The Bramall Papers

The Bramall Papers

Field Marshall Lord Bramall, edited by Robin Brodhurst
ARRSE Rating
4 Mushroom Heads
As Sir Anthony Seldon points out in his foreword to the book, the papers of Lord Bramall are exceptional in both the time span that they cover and the scope of the writing. In this book, edited by Robin Brodhurst, both of these areas are explored.

The book is divided into a number of sections, unhelpfully called books. In total there are 6, covering the following themes:
Total War and Man’s Excessive Inhumanity to Man​
Cold War and Nuclear Deterrence​
The Changing Face of Conflict: De-escalation from an Apocalypse, Limited and Revolutionary War, Insurgency, Terrorism and Peacekeeping​
Evolving Future Strategy: Constraints on Violence, Dynamic Diplomacy and Intervention Operations​
The Higher Organisation of Defence​

Each part is introduced and a chronology given, if appropriate. Following this there are a number of papers written by Lord Bramall. These are speeches that he gave in a number of capacities, either as an Army Commander from various stages in his military career, or speeches given in the House of Lords. The book, therefore covers the period from 7 June 1944 (D+1) when a young Second Lieutenant Bramall set foot on JUNO Beach to his retirement from the House of Lords in 2013.

This is a book that could be read cover to cover or dipped into for a specific purpose. It is an easy read, in terms of the language used. It is also an interesting read. I don’t think that there is anything controversial, although in later life Bramall was an advocate of thinking hard about whether maintaining a nuclear deterrent was credible in the 21st Century.

It is full of personal insights. As an example, 1961, Bramall was on the Directing Staff at the Staff College, Camberley. He led a battlefield tour to Normandy, and was able to change the format to include more focused discussions. His briefing paper is given in full and without comment. I note that it included “Ample time for discussion, and Time to get to Ascot” on the return to Camberley!

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. It’s certainly a “keeper”.

The Bramall Papers, Field Marshall Lord Bramall, edited by Robin Brodhurst, Pen & Sword Military, Barnsley 2017, reprinted 2018.
ISBN 9781526725646 371 pages including bibliography, notes and index.

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