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"Alanbrooke," wrote General MacArthur, "is undoubtedly the greatest soldier that England has produced since Wellington." He fought with the artillery in the First World War, had a brilliant career as a peacetime soldier, and conducted his Corps with exemplary calm and courage in the retreat to Dunkirk. In November 1941 Churchill selected him as Chief of the Imperial General Staff, and from that moment he became indispensable in Whitehall, the one man who could never be spared for the more spectacular feats of war on the battlefield which he longed to undertake.
Alanbrooke was the master strategist of the British military effort. His partnership with Churchill - the statesman's imagination and inspired energy perfectly complementing the soldier's clarity of mind and unflinching realism - was often turbulent, yet endlessly fruitful. Under his chairmanship the Chiefs of Staff became the most efficient machine for the conduct of war which Britain, perhaps the world, had ever seen. His influence in the shaping of global strategy was immeasurable.
Born the son of Brigadier The Honourable William Fraser (1890-1964) DSO MC, who had been the military attache in Paris when the Second World War begun, David Fraser was educated at Eton College and Christ Church College, Oxford. He left school to enlist at earliest opportunity after the Second World War begun, and joined his father's regiment, the Grenadier Guards in 1940, serving for much of the War with the Guards Armoured Division, later in North West Europe, ending the war in the rank of Major. He was appointed General Officer Commanding 4th Division in 1969, Assistant Chief of Defence Staff (Policy) in 1971 and Vice Chief of the Imperial General Staff in 1973. He went on to be British Military Representative to NATO in 1975, and Commandant of the Royal College of Defence Studies in 1977 before retiring in 1980.
What did you love best about Alanbrooke?
Alan Brook was at the very centre of decisions made in every theatre in WWII. He was a thoughtful and educated man with an excellent strategic mind. The book paints very well the circumstance, the evidence and finally the decision. It’s a fascinating insight into the man who gave the nod to world changing events and the advice he gave on why he did. Its well researched, its well written and an excellent company. I would advise it to any history buff's looking for a demanding picture of the relationship between senior military men and senior politicians and the fine line they both much tread.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
What triggered me to read this book was the comment in the advertisement quoting General MacArthur that “Alanbrooke was the greatest soldier that England has produced since Wellington.” This book was published in 1982. The book is 786 pages long and the audio book is 23 hours long.
Field Marshal Alan Francis Brooke, 1st Viscount Alanbrooke (1883-1963) fought with the artillery in WWI. This book gives an excellent report of artillery use in WWI. Alanbrooke served in the Army during the peace, and was in command of his Corp during the retreat at Dunkirk. In November, 1941, Churchill selected him as Chief of the Imperial General Staff.
General Fraser used the Alanbrooke diaries as well as other archival documents as research material for this biography. As a senior British Officers, General Fraser was able to present the “dimensions” of Alanbrooke’s wartime role, Alanbrooke’s simultaneous involvement with long-range allied strategy, with current operations, with superiors, colleagues, and subordinates. I enjoyed the accounts of Alanbrooke’s battles with Churchill and George Marshall. I found their disagreements and negotiations most enlightening. Alanbrooke was most frustrated having to deal with all the politics of the War.
The author covered Alanbrooke‘s early life, his graduation from the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich in 1902. Fraser tells of Alanbrooke role in WWI serving in the battles of the Somme and on to Dunkirk in WWII. Fraser tells of Alanbrooke’s support for mechanization of the military and the 1930s debates.
The author is also a very interesting person. He is Lieutenant General Sir David William Fraser (1920-2012); he is the son of Brigadier General, William Fraser (1890-1964). General William Fraser was the military attaché in Paris, France 1938 to 1939 when WWII started. General David Fraser joined his father’s regiment, The Grenadier Guards in 1940, and served in the armored division in WWII. David Fraser served as Vice Chief of the General Staff in 1972-1974. His military nickname was “Razor Fraser”. With his background, Fraser was the ideal person to write the biography of Alanbrooke.
If you are interested in WWI and WWII history this is an ideal book for you to read. James Adams was the narrator of the book.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful
If you could sum up Alanbrooke in three words, what would they be?
Moral, courageous, compassionate.
What did you like best about this story?
How Lord Alanbrooke managed to both be inspired by; and controlled Sir Winston Churchill.
Have you listened to any of James Adams’s other performances? How does this one compare?
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
Yes, but far too long.
Any additional comments?
A brilliant peice of writing of a towering figure.