Generals: Ten British Commanders Who Shaped the World by Mark Urban - review by Allan Mallinson

Allan Mallinson

Monty, the Bull, and the Grand Old Duke of York

Generals: Ten British Commanders Who Shaped the World


Faber & Faber 336pp £20 order from our bookshop

When I was military attaché in Rome, an Alpini general once asked me who were the ten greatest British generals. I replied that there would not be much argument about the top five but that opinion would vary regarding the others. Before I could name one, however, he put his hand on my shoulder and said: ‘The point is, we don’t have a single great general. How do you think that makes an Italian officer feel?’

Mark Urban’s book does not strictly answer the Alpini question, although undoubtedly the three greatest names are among these ten generals. Rather, Urban is interested in the historical effect that generals have – political, geo-strategic or military. His ten names are not therefore necessarily the finest practitioners of the art

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