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Liddell Hart's Western Front

TLS Review: 21 October 2011
By Brian Holden Reid


"In the first volume of his Memoirs (1965), Sir Basil Liddell Hart mentioned that he had written an unpublished work, "Impressions of the Battle of the Somme", which he had completed in the autumn of 1916. He dismissed it as a youthful folly, containing exagerated praise of British command styles and staff work - evidence, at least, that his later condemnations of both were not based on any temperamental bias. Not far short of a century after it was written, Liddell Hart's "Impressions" now appear in a careful, annotated edition, edited by Brian Bond, and supplemented by the author's wartime letters to his parents, as well as by his diaries and notes. This is a short but fascinating book that will intrigue a wide range of readers."

"Liddell Hart's failure to get the "Impressions" published doubtless saved him much later embarrassment as it contradicted all the military opinions that he advocated with such authority. Its publication forty years after his death enables us to place his life and work in their proper context, free of any retrospective rationalization that he would have felt compelled to put on this juvenile effort. For there is still much to do in coming to terms with Basil Liddell Hart's entire legacy, and not just those works he published in the years 1925-1939."