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Military Maverick (Hardback)

Selected Letters and War Diary of 'Chink' Dorman-Smith

Military > By Century Military > Reference World History

By Lavinia Greacen
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 256
Illustrations: 8 mono illustrations
ISBN: 9781036102272
Published: 30th June 2024


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A follow-up to the best-selling biography ‘Chink’, this selection from private letters and intimate war diary has the impact of a fresh ‘no holds barred’ autobiography. Dorman-Smith the man – flesh and blood – comes alive here on the page.

Provocative, irreverent, caustic and witty, his disdain for Churchill – and for the Establishment in general – increases as his military career unravels. Egotistical? Yes. Arrogant? Certainly. His own worst enemy? Perhaps. But Dorman-Smith’s grasp of tactics and strategy was unsurpassed, as his exchanges with Basil Liddell-Hart demonstrate.

Full of contradictions, he was externally reserved and inwardly super-sensitive. Growing up in style in Ireland and educated at public school in England, his religion was Catholic and he scorned any Anglo-Irish tag. His private life while rising up the Northumberland Fusiliers proved colourful, while a brief dalliance with the IRA in the 1950s never endangered his vow of silence over the Enigma/Ultra secret.

This book gives a marvellous picture of personal war experience in two world wars, from RMC Sandhurst and life in the trenches, via the Staff College to high command in Egypt and India between the wars, until service in North Africa under Wavell began, and working side by side with Auchinleck at the First Battle of El Alamein. That would lead to confrontation with Churchill and Brooke, and subsequent breakout from Anzio under fire. Readers will know what it was like to survive the trenches, to serve in HQ as crises arose, and to have command involving losses - the reality of war is dramatic and moving.

The First Battle of El Alamein, fought under Auchinleck in the emergency that dangerous summer of 1942, was to be followed within three months by Montgomery’s celebrated battle and its consequent fame. The important argument of Military Maverick, however, is that First Alamein was the real turning point in the Desert War, and that makes Dorman-Smith’s account even more valuable.

The letters and diary entries are linked by commentary and explanation by the editor Lavinia Greacen, and by the military historian John Lee.

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About Lavinia Greacen

Lavinia Greacen is an author of Chink: A Biography (Macmillan London) which was a Sunday Times 'Book of the Year' and received rave reviews from The Financial Times, 'An unexpected and utter joy to read', and Mail on Sunday, 'Enthralling', plus world-wide reviews from Australia to the US. Her biography J G Farrell, The Making of a Writer, about the double Booker Prize winner, was widely praised, and she has edited J.G. Farrell In His Own Words.

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