by Steve Cliffe
London: Fonthill Media / Philadelphia: Casemate, 2014. Pp. 144.
Illus., biblio., index. $24.95 paper. ISBN: 178155272X
Shaping Britain’s War Effort, 1914-1916
Cliffe, whose earlier work has been in British local history, examines the social, political, and military backgrounds of Winston S. Churchill, Lord Kitchener, and Lloyd George, and discusses how their interactions helped shape the way in which the British role in the Great War unfolded. This is an interesting approach. A Cliffe demonstrates, Kitchener certainly was not a fan of either of the other two men, while both Lloyd George and Churchill, who were fairly good friends and long-term political allies, appear to have had mixed feelings about Kitchener, which changed from respect to dislike. Despite this at times testy relationship, the three managed to work together well, in large measure because they were apparently among the few British political and military leaders to understand that the war which began in 1914 would be long and demanding.
As he discusses how the interactions of these three men influenced that war effort, Cliffe also throws in a lot of personal detail, from Kitchener’s great lost love to Lloyd George’s rampant womanizing, which help us understand their personalities, while offering us insights into why each of them thought and acted as they did in the furtherance of the war effort.
Although the book is marred by a lack of notes, and some very annoying errors in military terminology (e.g., the difference between a light cruiser and a battle cruiser), Cliffe writes well and makes some useful points, which will be of interest to anyone studying the grand strategy of the Great War.
Note: Churchill, Kitchener, and Lloyd George is also available in e-book format.