War Diaries 1939-1945

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Overview

For most of the Second World War, General Sir Alan Brooke (1883–1963), later Field Marshal Lord Alanbrooke, was Britain's Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS) and Winston Churchill's principal military adviser, and antagonist, in the inner councils of war. He is commonly considered the greatest CIGS in the history of the British Army. His diaries—published here for the first time in complete and unexpurgated form—are one of the most important and the most controversial military diaries of the modern era. ...

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Overview

For most of the Second World War, General Sir Alan Brooke (1883–1963), later Field Marshal Lord Alanbrooke, was Britain's Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS) and Winston Churchill's principal military adviser, and antagonist, in the inner councils of war. He is commonly considered the greatest CIGS in the history of the British Army. His diaries—published here for the first time in complete and unexpurgated form—are one of the most important and the most controversial military diaries of the modern era. The last great chronicle of the Second World War, they provide a riveting blow-by-blow account of how the war was waged and eventually won—including the controversies over the Second Front and the desperate search for a strategy, the Allied bomber offensive, the Italian campaign, the D-day landings, the race for Berlin, the divisions of Yalta, and the postwar settlement.

Beginning in September 1939, the diaries were written up each night in the strictest secrecy and against all regulations. Alanbrooke's mask of command was legendary but these diaries tell us what he really saw and felt: moments of triumph and exhilaration, but also frustration, depression, betrayal, and doubt. They expose the gulf between the military and the politicians of the War Cabinet, and how often military strategy was misguided and nearly derailed by political prejudices. They also reveal the incredible strain on Alanbrooke of the Allied conferences in Washington, Moscow, Casablanca, Quebec, and Tehran, as he tried after intense and exhausting argument (not least with Churchill) to match Allied strategy with the reality of British military power and the fragility of the British Empire. These diaries demonstrate the true depth of Alanbrooke's rage and despair at Churchill's failure to grasp overall strategy. This was particularly acute in the winter of 1943–44 when Churchill, fueled by medicine and alcohol, no longer seemed master of himself.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520239029
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/2003
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 815
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Alex Danchev is Professor of
International Relations at Keele University. His books include A Very Special Relationship: Field Marshal Sir John Dill and the Anglo-American Alliance (1987) and Alchemist of War: The Life of Basil Liddell Hart (1998). Daniel Todman is a history research graduate at Pembroke College, Cambridge.

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Read an Excerpt

Alanbrooke on Churchill:
"He knows no details, has only got half the picture in his mind, talks absurdities... And the wonderful thing is that 3/4 of the population of the world imagine that Winston Churchill is one of the great Strategists of History...Without him England was lost for certainty, with him England has been on the verge of disaster time and time again."
Churchill on Alanbrooke:
"I thump the table and push my face towards him, what does he do? Thumps the table harder and glares back at me."
Alanbrooke on Eisenhower:
"I am afraid that Eisenhower as a general is hopeless! He submerges himself in politics and neglects his military duties, partly, I am afraid, because he knows little if anything about military matters."
Alanbrooke on Stalin:
"He has got an unpleasantly cold, crafty, dead face and whenever I look at him I can imagine his sending people off to their doom without even turning a hair."
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  • Posted January 8, 2015

    General Alan Brooke was Chief of Staff of the British army and C

    General Alan Brooke was Chief of Staff of the British army and Churchill's military adviser during WWII. He wrote brief notes about his daily activities. Much of that is of no interest today. There are also summaries in a few sentences of Brooke's views of discussions about vital matters such as whether to invade France in 1943. These are of the greatest interest to historians who know much about these matters from other sources, but to publish the diaries as a printed book, rather than as an easily searchable computer file is not useful for anyone. No one would want to read these diaries the way one reads a book. I am not a historian and I am ashamed to have been so silly as to buy the book.

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