Book Reviews

Mud, Blood and Poppycock

Posted By January 3, 2006 No Comments

As we roll into the 90th anniversaries of the giant battles of the First World War, there is a re-think underway concerning many of the common assumptions about the conduct of the war (particularly in the British/Dominion armies) and some of the stereotypes are falling thick and fast. Paddy Griffith’s Battle Tactics of the Western Front (Yale University Press, New Haven, 1994) led the charge – pointing out the constant innovation and experimentation by Britain’s supposedly hide-bound generals in finding a solution to the paradigm of the trenches. Incidentally, the proportion of British general officers killed or wounded in battle was higher in World War One than in any other conflict since the Napoleonic Wars. One of the books in the second wave of attacks on traditional views is Gordon Corrigan’s Mud, Blood and Poppycock (Cassel, London, 2003). One minor point among the many major arguments Corrigan presented is that, actually, there were a number of engagements when cavalry were decisive on the Western Front, even in 1918!