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The Lords of War (ePub)

Supreme Leadership from Lincoln to Churchill

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 World History > UK & Ireland > England

By Correlli Barnett
Imprint: Praetorian Press
File Size: 13.4 MB (.epub)
Pages: 336
ISBN: 9781783378517
Published: 22nd October 2012


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In this compelling study of leadership, Correlli Barnett examines the strengths and weaknesses of twenty leaders in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He examines how the difficulties they faced and the political and strategic backgrounds of their days 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 considers men from very different backgrounds and from three continents in a range of modern conflicts from the Napoleonic Wars to the Second World War. They range from statesmen like Napoleon, Abraham Lincoln, David Lloyd George, Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, to generals like Ulysses S. Grant, Douglas Haig, Erwin Rommel, Georgi Zhukov, Dwight Eisenhower and William Slim, to admirals lie Isoruku Yamamoto and Bertram Ramsey.

These leaders present fascinating contrasts of personal character, styles of leadership and sheer aptitude for command as well as contrasts in the daunting professional problems that challenged each of them.

In Lords of War Correlli Barnett yet again demolishes hallowed reputations and rehabilitates the unjustly scapegoated. His latest book confirms his reputation as a master in the field of strategic history.

As reviewed in the EASTERN DAILY PRESS.

This is a truly fascinating work that will appeal to military professionals, enthusiasts, historians and the general reader. A study of war leaders and military commanders from Napoleon to Winston Churchill. – Most Highly Recommended.

Read the full review here


Featured in

Anglo-Zulu Historical Society

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 ‘The Lords of 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

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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