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Nasco12

The Hidden Perspective: The Military Conversations of 1906-1914, David Owen

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Nasco12

This is a frustrating book. I believe - I say "believe" because I can't recall the author ever explicitly stating this - that the author's claim is that the miliary conversations which took place from 1906 onwards made Britain's participation on the Western Front inevitable. Unstated, but implicit is the idea that Britain's participation on the Western Front was a Bad Thing.

 

Unfortunately, the evidence that Owen amasses rather tends to undermine his thesis. It demonstrates pretty clearly that Britain had flexibility right up until the last moment. It was Germany's invasion of Belgium that proved decisive not anything that might or might not have been agreed between the British and French militaries.

 

The exception to this was the naval agreement in which Britain guaranteed to oppose any German attack on the French Channel ports. This freed up French naval forces for operations in the Mediterranean. This has always struck me as the strongest piece of evidence that Britain had bound itself to a continental conflict yet Owen hardly mentions it. Perhaps he thinks that it would not have committed Britain to a land conflict but I find this unlikely. Britain found it hard enough to resist calls on its army to act when it was present on the Western front it is difficult to see how the calls would have been any less had it not been present but it had still been a participant in the war.

 

Owen also makes a number of factual errors. For instance: Haig did not belittle the machine gun; Lloyd George was not the motivating force behind the introduction of the convoy system; there was no major counter-attack during the Ludendorff Offensive (and, if there was, Lloyd George had nothing to do with it); the widening of the Kiel canal was completed in 1914 (not 1912) and the BEF was certainly much more than 350,000 strong in 1917.

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TGM

Not read it but note that Owen states:

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Podcast

 

Does it have an index?

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Nasco12
1 hour ago, TGM said:

Does it have an index?

 

Yes.

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TGM

Thanks, couldn't tell online whether it did or not.

Edited by TGM
typo

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