Foch in Command

Foch in Command : The Forging of a First World War General

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Ferdinand Foch ended the First World War as Marshal of France and supreme commander of the Allied armies on the Western Front. Foch in Command is a pioneering study of his contribution to the Allied victory. Elizabeth Greenhalgh uses contemporary notebooks, letters and documents from previously under-studied archives to chart how the artillery officer, who had never commanded troops in battle when the war began, learned to fight the enemy, to cope with difficult colleagues and allies, and to manoeuvre through the political minefield of civil-military relations. She offers valuable insights into neglected questions: the contribution of unified command to the Allied victory; the role of a commander's general staff; and the mechanisms of command at corps and army level. She demonstrates how an energetic Foch developed war-winning strategies for a modern industrial war and how political realities contributed to his losing the peace.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 15 b/w illus. 20 maps 1 table
  • 1139202383
  • 9781139202381

Review quote

'Relying on detailed archival work, Elizabeth Greenhalgh provides new insights into the depth of Foch's character and the quality of his thinking and leadership. She deserves much praise for having written the best work about Foch in any language and for having resurrected his reputation as the finest general of the war.' Robert A. Doughty, author of Pyrrhic Victory: French Strategy and Operations in the Great War 'The coalition dimensions of military operations on the Western Front are all too often underplayed. Foch in Command is thus a very welcome study of the commander who emerged as Allied 'generalissimo' in 1918. Elizabeth Greenhalgh is a combative and readable historian, and her book will reshape the debate on the military history of the First World War.' Gary Sheffield, University of Birmingham 'With this book Elizabeth Greenhalgh has constructed a fascinating portrait of an improbable commander-in-chief who led a coalition of democracies to victory. A hot-headed chief who consistently exasperated the commanding officers of the Allied national armies, Foch pursued his own objectives founded on deep national preconceptions, convinced that determination was the key to controlling reality.' General Andre Bach, former head of the Service Historique de la Defense 'Few, I believe, would disagree with this assessment of Ferdinand Foch, and fewer still would hesitate to welcome this high-resolution snapshot of a military commander in wartime crisis.' H-France (
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Table of contents

Introduction; Part I. From Theory to Practice: 1. From the Ecole de Guerre to August 1914 in Lorraine; 2. 'He held to the last quarter hour': with Ninth Army on the Marne; 3. Commander-in-Chief's deputy in the north, October-November 1914; 4. The end of the war of movement and reflections on 1914; 5. Second Artois, January-June 1915; 6. Third Artois, June-October 1915; 7. The scientific method: planning the Somme, 1916; 8. Fighting on the Somme, July-November 1916; 9. In disgrace: reflections on two years of command; 10. Intermezzo 1917; Part II. Supreme Command: 11. At the Supreme War Council, November 1917-March 1918; 12. Michael and Georgette, March-April 1918; 13. BLUECHER and GNEISENAU, May-June 1918; 14. Marneschutz-Reims and Second Marne, July 1918; 15. 'Les Boches sont dans la puree': the Huns are really in the soup; 16. 'Tout le monde ... la bataille'; 17. Waffenstillstand, October-November 1918; 18. Losing the peace; Conclusion: 'supreme command is less than people think'.
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