The British Field Marshals 1736 - 1997 (Paperback)
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Whether any advantage or benefit will be drawn from the suspension – or effective abolition – of the rank of Field Marshal is debatable. What is certain, however, is that Dr Tony Heathcote’s idea of compiling a definitive biographical
dictionary of holders of this illustrious rank since its introduction by George II in 1736, is opportune and inspired.
Those readers who anticipate a dry recitation of bare facts and statistics are in for a disappointment. A reference work this may be but the author, by dint of his depth of knowledge, has created a shrewd and highly readable commentary as well.
As General Sir Charles Guthrie (the first soldier to be denied promotion to Field Marshal on appointment to Chief of Defence Staff) observes in his Foreword, this book embraces the history of the British Army over the last 250-300 years. It covers not only the careers of key individuals but provides an understanding of their contribution to the successes and failures of our military past. The diversity of personalities, who have only the honour of wearing the coveted crossed batons in common, is fascinating. Alongside the household names of the great strategists and distinguished leaders lie little known and forgotten figures, who gained their exalted rank by either luck, accident of birth or diplomatic gesture.
The British Field Marshals merits a place on the bookshelf of any military historian but is likely to be found on his or her bedside table. Whether or not the rank is ever resurrected, as it has been in the past and as many will hope it will be again, this delightful and useful book will remain the authoritative guide to all those who have held the highest military rank in the British Army
This book provides a detailed biographical essay on every one of them, with as many details of their careers and personal lives as possible in one volumeFamily Tree Magazine
The entries are arranged alphabetically, with a number in brackets denoting the place in seniority in the overall list. Each gives a straightforward account of family background, education, units, promotions, appointments, honours, decorations and significant battles. It is an excellent primer which will lead the browser to follow up the information contained therein by deeper study in more detailed, specialised and specific works. For the military historian it is an invaluable companion and memory jogger.Guy Warner
All those interested in the British Army’s history will want this invaluable work on their shelves. A short introduction sketches the background and there are useful appendices and a bibliography. Biographies of our 138 field marshals form most of the book; the famous, the not – so – famous and the unexpected – the Kaiser and Franz Josef of Austria, our enemies in 1914, and Haile Selassie of Ethiopia. The title also details Sir John Ligonier, whose four mistresses had a combined age that was less than his. Vigour was essential for a field marshal!Soldier Magazine, Nov 2012
This is a useful reference work and an interesting readHistory of War
Having been the principal curator of the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, the author writes with considerable background knowledge and authority. This is not a book to read at a single sitting, - as well as being a first class work of reference, it is worth having by one’s bedside for the purpose of dipping in and extracting an entertaining nugget of information.News Letter, Belfast, 17 Nov 2012
For the military historian it is an invaluable companion and memory jogger.
As well as the household name – Wellington, Haig, Montgomery – it includes a host of forgotten ones, not just soldiers but royals, British and foreign appointed for raisons d’etat.The Times, 12th January 2013