Strachan, Hew 1949–
Strachan, Hew 1949–
(Hew Francis Anthony Strachan)
PERSONAL: Born September 1, 1949, in Edinburgh, Scotland; son of Michael Francis (a ship owner) and Iris (a landscape architect) Strachan; married Catherine Margaret Blackburn, June 26, 1971; children: Emily. Education: Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, B.A., 1971, M.A., 1975. Hobbies and other interests: Rugby football, country pursuits.
ADDRESSES: Office—All Souls College, Oxford OX1 4AL, England. E-mail—[email protected].
CAREER: Historian, educator, and writer. National Army Museum, Sandhurst, England, museum assistant, 1968; Ben Line Steamers, Edinburgh, Scotland, management trainee, 1972; Corpus Christi College, Cambridge University, Cambridge, England, research fellow, beginning 1975; University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland, professor of modern history, 1992–2000; All Souls College, Oxford University, Oxford, England, chair of history of war department and Chichele Professor of the History of War. Appointed deputy lieutenant of Tweed-dale, Scotland, 2006.
MEMBER: Society for Army Historical Research, Royal Society of Edinburgh (fellow), Royal Historical Society (fellow).
British Military Uniforms, 1768–1796, Arms and Armour Press (London, England), 1975.
History of the Cambridge University Officers Training Corps, Midas Books (Kent, England), 1976.
European Armies and the Conduct of War, Allen & Unwin (Boston, MA), 1983.
Wellington's Legacy: The Reform of the British Army, 1830–54, Manchester University Press (Dover, NH), 1984.
From Waterloo to Balaclava: Tactics, Technology, and the British Army, 1815–1854, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1985.
(Editor) Oxford Illustrated History of the First World War, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1998.
(Editor) World War I: A History, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1999.
(Editor) The British Army, Manpower, and Society into the Twenty-first Century, Frank Cass (Portland, OR), 2000.
(Consulting editor) Richard Holmes, editor, The Oxford Companion to Military History, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 2001.
The First World War, Volume 1: To Arms, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2001.
(Selector) Military Lives, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2002.
The First World War: A New Illustrated History, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2003.
The Outbreak of the First World War, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2004.
The First World War, Viking (New York, NY), 2004. The First World War in Africa, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2004.
Financing the First World War, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2004.
Contributor to professional journals and periodicals, including Militär und Gesellschaft, and International History Review. Contributor to series and individual books, including "The Historical Association: New Appreciations in History" (London, England), 1993; "The Experience of Two World Wars: A Historiographical Comparison" Pimlico, 1997; and Fontana History of England.
SIDELIGHTS: In 1968 Hew Strachan worked for his passage around the world as a merchant seaman, in 1971 he organized an India overland expedition, and in 1973, worked as a member of a survey on Sudanese Red Sea coast antiquities. Following these adventures, he settled down to a scholarly career of writing and editing a number of books on British military history and the history of World War I.
Strachan is the editor of World War I: A History, a collection of essays by twenty eminent scholars that analyzes the war broadly in terms of the dramatic changes it brought about in both political and nonpolitical arenas. In addition to offering summaries of the military course of the war, the book examines the effects of the war globally in terms of international politics, the role of women in society, science, and modernism in art. Booklist contributor Gilbert Taylor called the book "a high-powered lecture series" that brings together the work of some of the world's most astute minds into a "comprehensive" and "captivating introduction to the Great War." Edwin B. Burgess noted in the Library Journal that the collected essays "illuminate … often misunderstood territory."
In The Politics of the British Army Strachan reverses the widely held view that for three hundred years the British Army was apolitical. Strachan shows that the development of the British Empire itself was the greatest force in politicizing the British Army. Intricately involved at all levels in sustaining the Empire, including governing positions in its many outposts, the army was held in high esteem by the British public. Many members of the British Officer Corps served as Members of Parliament and, when necessary, promoted successful lobby efforts to protect the corporate interests of the army. Historian contributor John Beeler called Strachan's book "a thoughtful and penetrating examination of an aspect of the army's history that has been not so much ignored as denied." Throughout the study, Beeler found "Strachan's points are well founded, his examples appositely chosen, and his prose clear and often pithy."
In another look at the British Army, Strachan edited a collection of seventeen papers that examine challenges relating to recruitment, retention, and resettlement. The British Army: Manpower and Society in the Twenty-first Century is divided into three parts: a history, an analysis of the army in relation to society and social change, and a discussion of fighting efficiency. Examined are such issues as poor morale resulting from too few soldiers being asked to do too much and the result of this on retention. Frequent postings uproot families, Strachan observed, often leaving wives with quandaries over their own careers. Issues of race and sexual discrimination are also addressed in the book. Robert S. Redmond praised Strachan's "excellent book" in a Contemporary Review article and suggested it "could be compulsory reading by every member of both houses—Lords and Commons."
The first of a series of three volumes, Strachan's The First World War, Volume 1: To Arms, was greeted with enthusiasm by reviewers. Called a "monumental achievement" by Raymond Carr in the Spectator, the book distinguishes itself by Strachan's comparative approach. An Economist contributor noted the ambitious scale of the text, and Strachan's originality in treating the global, rather than European, aspects of the war. As Michael Howard pointed out in the Times Literary Supplement, Strachan includes in his 1,139 pages of text "a 150-page chapter on the war in Africa that is virtually a book in itself," as well as hefty discussions of the war in the Pacific and another one hundred fifty pages devoted to German-Turkish relations. The title of the series itself represents a departure from the British convention of referring to the war as "The Great War," and further emphasizes the global nature of the war.
Strachan's most controversial claim, as noted by the Economist contributor, is his "convincing case for the outbreak of war in 1914 as a product of blunder and delusion, not of deliberate German aggression." Analyzing the cultural contexts that lead to the outbreak of war in 1914, Strachan examines the roles of such influences as nationalism and patriotism in sustaining, though not causing, the war. His emphasis on political, social, and economic aspects of the war puts the operations of the war in a useful context. Strachan's "breadth of reading is nothing short of staggering," wrote Eliot A. Cohen in Foreign Affairs, predicting that Strachan's work on World War I "will provide the foundation for future generations' understanding."
The First World War in Africa was first published as a chapter in To Arms. Writing in the Journal of African History, Jeremy Black commented: "It is most useful for historians of Africa to have the section on the continent … available in this well-produced and inexpensive form." Strachan also authored The First World War: A New Illustrated History, which is based on a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) documentary. "This is not just a study of campaigns," wrote Ric Pelvin in Sabretache. "The author investigates the ideologies driving the participants and notes that these ideologies remained driving forces."
In another volume about the war published in 2004 and titled simply The First World War, Strachan targets the general reader and provides a chronological narrative of the events leading up to the war, its outbreak, and the war itself, including descriptions of all its major battles. The author also includes various sidebars about little known aspects of the war, such as how deserters were treated by the French. Writing in History: Review of New Books, Glyn Harper noted that previous historians have mostly failed when attempting to write "a single-volume history about a conflict with the scale and complexity of World War I." However, Harper went on to note that the author, in this case, "has succeeded." Ted Westervelt, writing in the School Library Journal, called the book "a comprehensive and gripping account." In a review in Armor, Richard S. Faulkner noted: "One of the great strengths of the work is Strachan's ability to view the war from a global perspective. Unlike previous works that tend to concentrate on the events of the Western Front, Strachan gives equal status to actions in the Pacific, Africa, the Middle East, Italy, the Balkans, and the Eastern Front."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Albion, spring, 1999, review of The Politics of the British Army, p. 139.
American Historical Review, June, 1986, Gordon C. Bond, review of Wellington's Legacy: The Reform of the British Army, p. 664; February, 1988, Richard Blanco, review of From Waterloo to Balaclava: Tactics, Technology, and the British Army, 1815–1854, p. 150.
Armor, September-October, 2005, Richard S. Faulkner, review of The First World War: A New Illustrated History, p. 51.
Booklist, November 1, 1998, Gilbert Taylor, review of World War I: A History, p. 467; March 15, 2004, Jay Freeman, review of The First World War, p. 1262.
British Book News, November, 1984, review of Wellington's Legacy, p. 669; March, 1986, review of From Waterloo to Balaclava, p. 159.
Choice, March, 1984, review of European Armies and the Conduct of War, p. 1041; January, 1985, review of Wellington's Legacy, p. 734.
Contemporary Review, October, 2000, Robert S. Redmond, review of The British Army, p. 243.
Economist, May 12, 2001, review of The First World War, p. 3.
English Historical Review, July, 1986, review of European Armies and the Conduct of War, p. 761; April, 1987, P.G. Griffiths, review of Wellington's Legacy, p. 514; July, 1988, Paddy Griffith, review of From Waterloo to Balaclava, p. 750; June, 1999, Davis French, review of The Politics of the British Army, p. 796.
Foreign Affairs, September-October, 2001, Eliot A. Cohen, review of The First World War, p. 155.
Historian, winter, 2000, John Beeler, review of The Politics of the British Army, p. 460.
History: Review of New Books, summer, 2004, Glyn Harper, review of The First World War, p. 149.
History: The Journal of the Historical Association, June, 1987, Bruce Collins, review of From Waterloo to Balaclava, p. 362; January, 2000, John Gooch, review of The Politics of the British Army, p. 113.
History Today, June, 1985, John Gooch, review of Wellington's Legacy, p. 59; November, 1998, review of The Oxford Illustrated History of the First World War, p. 55; May, 2004, William Philpott, review of The First World War, p. 76.
Journal of African History, November, 2005, Jeremy Black, review of The First World War in Africa, p. 547.
Journal of Military History, April, 1999, Spencer C. Tucker, review of World War I, p. 458.
Journal of Modern History, December, 1984, review of European Armies and the Conduct of War, p. 709; spring, 1986, review of Wellington's Legacy, p. 721.
Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 1998, review of World War I, p. 1658; February 15, 2004, review of The First World War, p. 171.
Kliatt, September, 2005, Daniel Levinson, review of The First World War, p. 40.
Library Journal, October 1, 1998, Edwin B. Burgess, review of World War I, p. 114; April 1, 2004, John R Vallely, review of The First World War, p. 108.
Modern History Review, September, 1994, Matt Cole, review of The First World War, p. 21.
National Review, August 20, 2001, Michael Potemra, review of The First World War.
Observer (London, England), November 8, 1998, review of The Oxford History of the First World War, p. 16.
Parameters, summer, 2005, Dauglas V. Johnson, II, review of The First World War, p. 165.
Political Quarterly, January-March, 1998, Donald Cameron, review of The Politics of the British Army, p. 97.
Publishers Weekly, March 8, 2004, review of The First World War, p. 67.
Sabretache, September, 2004, review of The First World War, p. 60; June, 2005, Ric Pelvin, review of The First World War: A New Illustrated History, p. 56; December, 2005, Ric Pelvin, review of The First World War, p. 53.
School Library Journal, September, 2004, Ted Westervelt, review of The First World War, p. 237; April, 2005, review of The First World War, p. S63.
Social History, May, 1999, Heather Streets, review of The Politics of the British Army, p. 219.
Spectator, May 26, 2001, Raymond Carr, review of The First World War, p. 44.
Times Educational Supplement, April 6, 1984, review of European Armies and the Conduct of War, p. 49.
Times Higher Education Supplement, February 25, 1994, Lawrence Freedman, review of War in History, p. 28; June 19, 1998, Patrick Mileham, review of The Politics of the British Army, p. 21.
Times Literary Supplement, August 31, 1984, review of Wellington's Legacy, p. 974; April 25, 1986, review of From Waterloo to Balaclava, p. 440; July 24, 1998, John Keegan, review of The Politics of the British Army, p. 26; July 20, 2001, Michael Howard, review of The First World War, p. 28.
Victorian Studies, winter, 1986, review of Wellington's Legacy, p. 318.
HistoryNet.com, http://www.historynet.com/ (October 27, 2006), Michael Oppenheim, review of The First World War.