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Leadership in War (ePub)

From Lincoln to Churchill - Revised Edition

Military > By Century > 19th Century Military > By Century > 20th Century Military > Pre-WWI > American History Military > Reference P&S History > British History P&S History > By Century > 19th Century P&S History > By Century > 20th Century P&S History > Reference P&S History > Social Science & Culture > Politics WWI WWII > Churchill WWII > Hitler & the Third Reich World History > Europe World History > The Americas > USA World History > UK & Ireland > England

By Correlli Barnett
Imprint: Praetorian Press
File Size: 4.7 MB (.epub)
Pages: 322
Illustrations: 50 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781473842274
Published: 30th June 2014


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In this controversial study, Correlli Barnett examines the strengths and weaknesses of twenty wartime leaders in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He considers the extraordinary difficulties they faced, and analyses how they performed and what they achieved. Were they successful, or were they beaten down by the burden of their roles?

His book focuses on men from very different backgrounds and from three continents in a range of modern conflicts from the American Civil War to the Second World War. They range from statesmen like Lincoln, Lloyd George, Hitler and Churchill to generals like Grant, Haig, Rommel, Zhukov and Eisenhower, and admirals like Yamamoto and Ramsay.

These leaders demonstrated fascinating contrasts of personal character, styles of leadership and aptitude for command as they grappled with the daunting professional problems that confronted them.

In this challenging study, first published as The Lords of War, Correlli Barnett yet again demolishes hallowed reputations and rehabilitates the unjustly scapegoated. His latest book confirms his reputation as a master of strategic history.

Napoleon Bonaparte * Abraham Lincoln * Ulysses S. Grant * Robert E. Lee * Helmuth, Graf von Moltke * Napoleon III * Joseph Joffre * Helmuth von Moltke the Younger * Douglas Haig * David Lloyd George * Philippe Pétain * Erich Ludendorff * Erwin Rommel * Isoruku Yamamoto * Arthur Harris * William Slim
Bertram Ramsay * Dwight D. Eisenhower * Georgi Zhukov * Adolf Hitler * Winston Churchill

By way of recommendation, I had to work to keep hold of this book in order to review it. Friends and acquaintances who saw it frequently picked it up to read it (and in one or two cases walked off with it) and, when I retrieved it, the invariable question was “Can I borrow it when you’ve finished with it?”. This is a good book that makes a number of sound points and is worth learning from. Anyone interested in leadership at the strategic or operational level will benefit from it and it’s a worthy addition to any bookshelf.

Read the full review here

Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

Barnett's book about wartime leaders whom we all know, makes for fascinating reading. They're not all as you might think.

Books Monthly

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Anglo-Zulu Historical Society

There are very few military historians who could provide such an entertaining and enlightening treatise on military leadership in this sort of succinct and readable form. These case studies show that even where the question of a particular military leaders reputation appears to be settled there is always room for reassessment with a fresh eye and an open mind. This book will provoke a range of reactions - but wherever the readers proclivities lie it will not fail to impress.

Read the full review here

Walking the Battlefields, Phil Curme

A valuable read for those interested in leadership and, of course, in the particular leaders and their wars.

The NYMAS Review

Aged eighty-six, Correlli Barnett has over the past half-century written a striking sequence of widely read and often controversial books that have not spared the reputations of revered heroes from Napoleon to Montgomery. His work has frequently elevated the importance of the human factor - the impact of personality on momentous events, It is therefore fitting that he has devoted what may be his last book to command and leadership during the great age of industrialized war. Barnett is a lively and provocative historian who writes in a wonderfully readable and trenchant style, sprinkled with arresting metaphors and apt judgements, as he does here. There is much to admire here. Barnett has attempted to place the sources of successful leadership at the top in a broader social and intellectual frame. Sir Alex Ferguson has argued that in dealing with individuals, sometimes am old-fashioned methods are the best. I am sure Correlli Barnett would agree.

Times Literary Supplement

Historians are noted for their strong opinions and the subjectivity of their work. Correlli Barnett's offering meets both of these criteria. Having said that, each of the 20 leaders is presented in a balanced and insightful way. While necessity demands that individual write-ups are short, the chapters do provide enough thought-providing information to spur additional interest. Strongly recommended to both the aspiring military historian and the casual reader.

Soldier magazine

This page turner just keeps on giving. The joy of it is you can read each chapter separately and come back as it suits you. It made an ideal read for my commute on the train into London. But the important thing to keep in sight is where the appreciation of the subjects comes from. You can’t write books like this overnight, they take years of experience and a strong element of bloody mindedness. This is a magnificent book and having read a number of reviews by supposedly worthier people than me I can take heart from getting my impressions bang on correct. I couldn’t have read this book when I was fourteen and I suspect Correlli Barnett might not have been able to write it, But here we are, and I have to tell you this is the book of 2012 I would have picked had I done one of those “best of” things before Crimbo. This book will help you place a lot of people and armies in context. It will burst bubbles and I hope it will squash some tired, nasty old myths. You simply have to read it.

War History Online

The book marks the culmination of a lifetime's study of military leadership in action. True to form, Barnett has produced another outstanding study – one which uproots lazy assumptions, offers sharp new insights, and forces the reader to think anew about what it is that makes for a great commander. Strongly recommended to all military history enthusiasts.

Military History Monthly

It is always a pleasure to see a new volume by Correlli Barnet, an historian not given to the fattening of sacred cows. It is this book which provokes fervid debate still, even in the academic literature. He is also a, if not the, consummate historian of stategic planning and decision making, especially in a British context. I do not have the space or time to give a detailed breakdown of each chapter, but they should all be read as, whilst seperate essays, they do indeed interlock and accumulate to serve the general thesis. This is an eminently readable study of the interaction between military force and political aim, and how dangerously seductive quick military successes can be, especially to political leaders. This excellent book lays bare the attempts of those who seek to redirect credit attaching others – and that history will out.


In this study of leadership, Correlli Barnett studies the strengths and weaknesses of twenty leaders in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He examines the difficulties each faced and the political and strategic backgrounds of their days, as well as analyses how they performed and what they achieved.

Britain at War

Correlli Barnett’s The Lords of War: Supreme Leadership from Lincoln to Churchill (Praetorian Press) has just appeared, and it elbowed its way onto my “must read” list by force of personality. For more than 50 years Barnett has delighted and infuriated with his robust views. This book, complete with penetrating insights into leadership, is as controversial as ever. Barnett’s villains include Napoleon: in Russia his Grand Army marched “on its empty stomach in true Bonapartian style”; his heroes include Haig, who Barnett describes as “The Victor of 1918”. Whether you agree with him or not, this is indispensable stuff.

Gary Sheffield, Professor of War Studies, University of Birmingham, in The Times

After a lifetime as historian and writer Correlli Barnett has produced his most accomplished book to date. The Lords of War is no ordinary book on military leadership; it is an extraordinarily privileged examination of command in war at the highest level….The brilliance of this book is signposted in the author’s introductory essay on the nature of leadership. … This book is a most compelling read for the military historian and the general reader alike. It is Correlli Barnett at his vintage best.

General The Lord Dannatt

One of the joys of reading and reviewing military history books is receiving anything with the name Correlli Barnett on the cover. In my view ‘The Swordbearers’ remains the best discussion and dissection of the stress of leadership and this paperback edition of ‘Leadership in War’ does not disappoint. It offers essays on icons of battlefield and strategic leadership and typically of the author, it does not hesitate to be controversial and erode some of the long held shibboleths that are attached to these iconic leaders. The really great thing about Correlli Barnett is that he makes you think and re-think your attitudes to history and if a historian does not do that, what is the point of historians? He is one of the very best and I would urge that you buy a copy of this book. It will be very rewarding. Highly recommended.

Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide

Michael McCarthy
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About Correlli Barnett

Correlli Barnett is one of Britain’s best-known historians. A Fellow of both the Royal Society of Literature and the Royal Historical Society, he was Keeper of the Churchill Archives Centre at Churchill College, Cambridge and has written many acclaimed books. These include his first, The Desert Generals, which challenged the myth of Montgomery and El Alamein, biographies of Marlborough and Bonaparte, The Swordbearers: Supreme Command in the First World War, The Collapse of British Power, and Engage the Enemy More Closely: The Royal Navy in the Second World War.

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