April 2015 Non-Fiction Book of the Month.
The Centenary of Gallipoli, the First World War campaign that was doomed to failure, bringing about the tragic loss of so many men. First published in 1956, Alan Moorehead’s history of Gallipoli still remains as the definitive study. Now republished with a new introduction from Sir Max Hastings, who recalls how Moorehead’s books became an inspiration for his journalistic career and his own writing. With in-depth analysis of the campaign, the objectives both sides set themselves, and with character sketches of the main players, it brings the complex operation to life, showing how and why it went so terribly wrong and a century on, remains a by word for the loss of human life.
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A century has now gone by, yet the Gallipoli campaign of 1915-16 is still infamous as arguably the most ill conceived, badly led and pointless campaign of the entire First World War. The brainchild of Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, following Turkey's entry into the war on the German side, its ultimate objective was to capture the Gallipoli peninsula in western Turkey, thus allowing the Allies to take control of the eastern Mediterranean and increase pressure on the Central Powers to drain manpower from the vital Western Front. From the very beginning of the first landings, however, the campaign went awry, and countless casualties. The Allied commanders were ignorant of the terrain, and seriously underestimated the Turkish army which had been bolstered by their German allies. Thus the Allies found their campaign staled from the off and their troops hopelessly entrenched on the hillsides for long agonising months, through the burning summer and bitter winter, in appalling, dysentery-ridden conditions. By January 1916, the death toll stood at 21,000 British troops, 11,000 Australian and New Zealand, and 87,000 Turkish and the decision was made to withdraw, which in itself, ironically, was deemed to be a success. First published in 1956, when it won the inaugural Duff Cooper Prize, Alan Moorehead's book is still regarded as the definitive work on this tragic episode of the Great War. One could argue he was the first writer to capture the true turmoil that occurred in this campaign with his colourful, analytical and compelling style of prose.
Unhampered by the restrictions of modern political correctness, this 60-year-old book is a refreshing read, only occasionally giving itself away with contemporary references to the Soviet Union. Describing events surrounding the Dardanelles campaign during the First World War, the book brought Gallipoli to a new generation and even inspired Peter Weir’s film of the campaign. The story it tells so well is as relevant today as it ever was; military campaigns gather their own momentum, and even democracies come under the powerful influence of non-elected decision-makers, from Kitchener to Rumsfeld, but, above all, it is good intelligence that wins wars.
'To visit the battlefield is to make a pilgrimage to one of the most emotive landmarks of one of the most terrible conflicts of history, of which Alan Moorehead remains perhaps the most vivid chronicler.'
Sir Max Hastings
Publication date: 02/04/2015
Publisher: Aurum Press Ltd
|Publication date:||2nd April 2015|
|Author:||Alan Moorehead, Sir Max Hastings|
|Publisher:||Aurum Press Ltd|
|Genres:||Biography / Autobiography, Books of the Month, History,|
Alan Moorehead OBE, was born in Australia in 1910, but resided in England and Italy for most of his life from 1937-83. He was a war correspondentMore About Alan Moorehead, Sir Max Hastings