Book Review: In Haig’s Shadow: The Letters of Major-General Hugo de Pree and Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig


by Gary Sheffield, editor

Barnsley, Eng.: Greenhill Books / Philadelphia: Casemate, 2019. Pp. xxviii, 228. Appends, notes, biblio., index. $34.95. ISBN: B087CLXQK6

An Intimate Look at British Life and Military Service

Prof. Sheffield (Wolverhampton), the author of Command and Morale: The British Army on the Western Front 1914-1918, Changing War: The British Army, the Hundred Days Campaign, and the Birth of the Royal Air Force, 1918, and other works on British military history, uses the letters exchanged between Hugo de Pree (1870-1943) and his mother’s younger brother Douglas Haig (1861-1928) and other family members and friends, as well as excerpts from official documents and reports, to give us a look not only at the close friendship between the two men.

Sheffield naturally uses these letters to tell us something about the war, during which Haig commanded the BEF in France from 1915 through the end of the Great War, while de Pree served under his command at the front. But in the process, Sheffield also draws on the letters to tell us much about the life of upper class Britons from late Victorian times through the Second World War. Naturally there is much about military life and service, as de Pree followed family tradition into the army, saw action in India, the Boer War, and World War I, rose to the command of infantry brigades on the Western Front.

The work follows de Pree into the postwar years, as he rose to major-general, then, in retirement, became active in defending Haig’s reputation – one which in recent years had been rising. During the Second World War de Pree played a prominent role in establishing the Home Guard.

In Haig’s Shadow is good read for anyone interested in WW I, or the British Army, albeit flawed somewhat by a total lack of images, and even more so by the absence of any maps.




Note: In Haig’s Shadow is also available in several e-editions.


StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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