WAVELL: Scholar and Soldier by John Connell
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WAVELL: Scholar and Soldier

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Written by an English author who served under Wavell, this first volume of a biographical study of ""one of the greatest soldiers and noblest characters of his age"" ends in June, 1941, when General Auchinleck replaced him as Commander-in-Chief of the Middle East. The book, which includes many excerpts from Wavell's terse and humorous personal and official papers, has also a strong autobiographical flavor. Born in 1883, son of an officer in the Black Watch, Archibald Percival Wavell (who detested the Archibald) joined his father's regiment, served in the Boer War and in India, and as a Staff Officer was noted for efficiency, cool intelligence and great physical stamina. In World War I he served in France and in Palestine; in World War II, as Commander-in-Chief of the British forces in the Middle East, he won victories in East Africa, defeated the Italians in the Western Desert, and fell foul of the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. The two never got on together, brilliant, emotional, with a zest for war and a disregard for strategy, was given to intuitive and sometimes mistaken decisions; Wavell, the professional soldier, was reticent, disciplined, thought war dull and wasteful, and kept his plans for defensive strategy to himself. The tension between the two reached breaking point when Churchill ordered Wavell to aid Greece, a move that left him desperately short of equipment, and later blamed him, replaced him with a man who ""would be amenable to his views."" Obligatory for all soldiers, professional and armchair, this will also appeal to non-military adherents of biography and personal history.

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World