Max Egremont

The Man and the Myth

The Good Soldier: A Biography of Douglas Haig

By

Atlantic Books 608pp £30 order from our bookshop

It is hard to like Douglas Haig. There have been many biographies of this dour, philistine Scot, the British commander-in-chief on the Western Front, but all run aground on the dullness of his personality. His diaries and letters rarely rise above the banal; his doggedness and sycophancy make him easy prey for debunkers. To some, Haig seems the epitome of the old British class system – the heir to a Scotch whisky fortune who was promoted through good connections to become the mass murderer of innocents during insane offensives while he lived miles away in a grand chateau. Photographs taken of him during the First World War show an apparently smug, phlegmatic figure, his polished boots and ironed uniform an insult to those enduring the trenches.

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