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The Lonely Soldier

Auchinleck by Phillip Warner
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For as long as generalship in war is studied, there is certain to be controversy over the qualities, achievements and treatment of Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck. 'The Auk', as he was universally known, was born in India and raised in conditions near poverty. Yet his talent ensured his career flourished, in spite of his Indian Army background, and he was appointed Commander of the newly formed 8th Army in North Africa. Despite great political interference, he was the first British general to defeat the Germans when he stopped Rommel's Africa Corps at 1st Alamein only to be sacked by Churchill. After a spell in the wilderness he became Commander-in-Chief India during the dark period of Partition and, ironically, had to preside over the destruction of his beloved Indian Army. A private man of great humour and integrity, he steadfastly and honourably refused to be drawn into discussing or criticising the roles of others such as Churchill, Montgomery or Mountbatten, even when his own abilities were, often shabbily, appraised. He always argued that history would be his judge. Drawing on unpublished transcripts of interviews, newly available papers and document and recollections of those who served with the subject, biographer and historian Philip Warner has succeeded in painting a superb and objective study of this remarkable, yet somehow tragic, figure. It remains for the reader to decide whether Auchinleck was the hapless victim of character assassination or as inadequate as his detractors claimed.

Copyright Group; March 2015
218 pages; ISBN 9781859593950
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Title: Auchinleck
Author: Phillip Warner