Alan Clark - liar exposed

#1
Now those of you who frequent the WW1 threads on here will know exactly where I stand on Alan Clark the "military historian". His lions led by donkeys rubbish has scarred the teaching and in many cases the interpretation of the Great War for generations. He isn't even a particularly illuminating or accurate historian. The supposed donkeys quote from Falkenheyn turned out to have been unattributed and probably even made up by Clark himself. Oxford's professor of military history Michael Howard wrote "As history it is worthless" and criticised Clark for "slovenly scholarship". He essentially decided what sort of a chap he thought Haig was and then shifted facts and inferences to prove his point.

His personal character was also riddled with an arrogance and he possessed a personal moral code that defies even the use of "amoral". He did however appear to have the saving grace of having served in the Household Cavalry. It now appears, from papers produced by his widow, that in fact he managed to avoid service by some clever shenanigans involving signing on to the Reserve whilst at Eton and doing some buckshi training.

I cannot begin to describe the satisfaction that the removal of even this level of qualification from Clark's persona gives me. Petty I know but nevertheless satisfying. The cnut.
 
#2
All this is ancient history, he did about six months in the TA and his book "Lions led by donkeys" has been rubbished by just about every military historian of note since it was first published in the 60s, he is right up there with Charles Whiting for writing complete crap
 
#3
I wish I had the foresight to have kept it but years ago I read an article that ascribed it to a German officer, whilst watching British prisoners being led to the rear.

The book 'Mud,blood, and poppycock' debunks a lot of commonly held, beliefs, such as all the staff were cav types.

I personally think that no other conflict had as manyinnovations as WW1
Gas.
Aircraft.
Submarine warfare.
Armour.
The beginnings of Radio, strategic bombing, the use of science.

Overall I think that the conservative armed services did well to adapt as quickly as they did.
 
#4
I cannot begin to describe the satisfaction that the removal of even this level of qualification from Clark's persona gives me. Petty I know but nevertheless satisfying. The cnut.
I'm damn sure you are Gordon Corrigan............................wheres my £10? ;)

 
#5
Cuddles I think you are being very generous to Clark. He was if anything an upper class spiv (if such a thing is possible). Personally I would like to had booted him where it really hurts and then cut them off with blunt and rusty scissors.
 
#6
Walt hunting has now reached the ARRSE history forum.

More shock horror General Gordon ran an education and training program for young boys, the cadet force walt peado.
 

OldSnowy

LE
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#7
Cuddles I think you are being very generous to Clark. He was if anything an upper class spiv (if such a thing is possible). Personally I would like to had booted him where it really hurts and then cut them off with blunt and rusty scissors.
and Baden-Powell wrote "Scouting for Boys" - you can't get odder than that! Get the B-Type Vintage Outrage bus cranked over at once.....
 
#10
Oxford's professor of military history Michael Howard wrote "As history it is worthless" and criticised Clark for "slovenly scholarship". QUOTE]

You do fail to mention that Howard also commended Clark on his "sometimes masterly" descriptions of battles, along with the great readability of the book... Selective quotation is not quite fair!

Al Clark was a hugely flawed character, of that there is little doubt. This isn't the NAAFI so I won't commend his multiple affairs, his hypochondria, or his dubious dealings in the Matrix Churchill affair. His historical writing is not of the top drawer, and will probably be long forgotten other than the eminently quotable sections that he probably made up...

As a person, however, the flaws are what make him interesting. He's about as far as it is possible to get from the cookie
-cutter politicians we have now. He is a mess of contradictions (car-loving environmentalist; countryside loving vegetarian; rabid right winger but friendly with Denis Skinner and Tony Benn.) and as such I can forgive his failings as an historian.

As a diarist he is of the first rank. They contain not only painfully honest insights into the mind of the man (acknowledging his own flaws alongside those of his peers), but also some of the most accurate recollections of British politics in the 80's and 90's. His descriptions of Thatcher's downfall is the definitive telling of the tale.
 
#11
How very dare you. "Wheels of Terror" (Leo Kessler) was one of the only real, true, proper historical tomes to come out of WW2.
Which was ghost written by Sven Hassel FFs you can't even get your crap writers right, get it.
 
#12
Wheels of Terror is actually a very good warry book. Not as good as the infinitely superior SS General by the same author, but a passable afternoons read nonetheless.

The film was parp, however.

Tam
 
#13
Al Clark was a hugely flawed character, of that there is little doubt. This isn't the NAAFI so I won't commend his multiple affairs, his hypochondria, or his dubious dealings in the Matrix Churchill affair. His historical writing is not of the top drawer, and will probably be long forgotten other than the eminently quotable sections that he probably made up...

As a person, however, the flaws are what make him interesting. He's about as far as it is possible to get from the cookie
-cutter politicians we have now. He is a mess of contradictions (car-loving environmentalist; countryside loving vegetarian; rabid right winger but friendly with Denis Skinner and Tony Benn.) and as such I can forgive his failings as an historian.

As a diarist he is of the first rank. They contain not only painfully honest insights into the mind of the man (acknowledging his own flaws alongside those of his peers), but also some of the most accurate recollections of British politics in the 80's and 90's. His descriptions of Thatcher's downfall is the definitive telling of the tale.
I have to agree with your assessment of Clark.

"Lions" was in essence written purely for financial gain. It therefore had to be contentious and there's evidence that Clark was well aware of the inaccuracies, especially his very selective quotations of Haig designed to undermine the man.

While Clark deserves vilification for "Lions", as much ordure should be heaped upon those too timid, or too lazy to challenge him and special condemnation should be reserved for those who allowed his notions to twist the reality in the minds of the generations for whom The Great War is still nothing more than a "futile loss of a generation."
 
#14
Yes that "what would the world have been like if only the fallen of 1916 had fulfilled their potential" school of historians and commentators make me heartily sick. I suspect that generation was no better, in the run of the mill, every day context than its predecessors or indeed its successors. We are indeed perhaps lucky that we do not live in a world created and overseen by a bunch of poets!

Before you hand crank the outrage bus into life, I would stress that this is meant ironically. Moreover I have every ounce of respect for those who fought and died or survived on the Western Front, in Italy, Salonika, Gallipolli, Mespot' or indeed Africa. Any other theatres not specifically mentioned, please take them as read!
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
#15
Wheels of Terror is actually a very good warry book. Not as good as the infinitely superior SS General by the same author, but a passable afternoons read nonetheless.
Funny you should say that. There is a steep hill up from the beach at New Quay in Cardigan, so while there for the last two weeks, Wor Lass and I made a point of calling in at an interesting pub at the top for a swift half. Then we discovered they had a room full of cheap second hand books, including SS General which I read in very short order.
 
#16
How very dare you. "Wheels of Terror" (Leo Kessler) was one of the only real, true, proper historical tomes to come out of WW2.
Which was ghost written by Sven Hassel FFs you can't even get your crap writers right, get it.
Where do you get that one from Tropper?

Charles Whiting aka Leo Kessler and others, born Bootham, York in 1926 here >> Charles Whiting - Yorkshire Post

Sven Hassel, born Fredensborg Denmark in 1917 here >> SVEN HASSEL (Click Biography section).

Not the same person IMO.
 
#17
I think people are going a bit overboard here . Whatever you think about Clark one thing is certain - he'll never be remembered as a serious historian

If we're talking about worst books on the first world war let me nominate this one

Amazon.com: The Myth of the Great War: A New Military History of World War I (9780060084332): John Mosier: Books

Mosier is a doctor in English and film criticism . He has no historical acedamic qualifications what so ever and this book shows . He considers the first battle of the Marne and Verdun as being German victories though never states why they're German victories . He also overplays American involvement so much it's offensive

Nice to know his other historical books get a critical kicking too
 
#19
I need to re-read Mosier's book before I argue with you about it, spanny. But one thing is for sure, without the shells, bullets and bombs the Americans sold us at the start of the war, we would have been reduced to throwing insults alone at the Germans. Mosier is quite accurate in that regard.

Tam
 
#20
"Then we discovered they had a room full of cheap second hand books, including SS General which I read in very short order."
from AlienFTM.

Did you like it then? I enjoyed it myself, as I think I said. It confirmed me in my thinking that I never want to be in Russia during the winter.
I know so-called serious historians rip the pish out of his books but just about all of them have their own agenda to peddle about past events, even when said agenda has sod-all to do with reality, so I take their criticisms with a very large wheelbarrow full of salt.

Tam
 

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