A major new account of Britain’s military strategy between 1914–1945, including the two world wars and everything between
The First and Second World Wars were separated by a mere two decades, making the period 1914–1945 an unprecedentedly intense and violent era of history. But how did Britain develop its complex military strategy during these wars, and how were decisions made by those at the top?
Robin Prior examines the influence politicians had on military operations, in the first history to assess both world wars together. Drawing uniquely on both military and political archives and previously unexamined sources Prior explores the fraught relationships between civilian and military leaders: from Lloyd George’s remarkably interventionist stance on military tactics during the First World War to Churchill’s near-constant arguments with American leaders during the Second. Conquer We Must tells the complex story of this military decision-making, revealing how politicians attempted to control strategy—but had little influence on how the army, navy, and air force actually fought.
Robin Prior is a professorial fellow at the University of Adelaide. He is the author or coauthor of six books on the two world wars, including The Somme, Passchendaele, Gallipoli and When Britain Saved the West.
“Robin Prior’s assessment of the workings, strengths, and weaknesses of civil-military relationships and their impact on military outcomes in both wars is trenchant and challenging.”—William Philpott, Times Literary Supplement
“How Britain’s Armed Forces coped in two world wars is the subject of Conquer We Must: A Military History of Britain, 1914–1945, by Robin Prior, which exposes the constant tension, whether in conflict or in peace, between politicians and service chiefs.”—Simon Heffer, Daily Telegraph, “Best History Books 2022”
Shortlisted for the 2023 Military History Matters Book of the Year
“[A] tremendous, sweeping study of power in wartime.”—Allan Allport, Literary Review
“[A] magisterial analysis of the Britain between 1914 and 1945.”—Robert Lyman, Aspects of History
“In sum, this is an enlightening, uplifting and altogether magnificent book.”—Allan Mallinson, Country Life
“Intensively researched using both military and political archives, it is revealing and thought-provoking.”—Choice
“A superb and highly readable account. . . . That Britain ultimately made an effective and successful partnership between politicians and soldiers, seen most explicitly in the personalities of Churchill and Brooke, lies at the heart of this engaging book. . . . I couldn’t put it down, and neither will you.”—Robert Lyman, Aspects of History
“[Conquer We Must] is both interesting and important . . . an informed contribution based on sound scholarship and interpretation of the facts at hand.”—Christopher Harrison, Journal of Military History
“Any book by Robin Prior is an event, and this is no exception. Conquer We Must is a well-researched and trenchantly argued tour de force. Historians of Britain’s military effort in the two world wars will be busy debating his ideas for years to come.”—Gary Sheffield, author of Forgotten Victory
“This is a gripping account of how relations between the military and the politicians shaped the outcome of Britain’s two world wars, revealing just how much the experience of 1914–18 informed decision-making in 1939–45. Robin Prior provides incisive arguments for what went wrong for the British and what, crucially, went right and why.”—Heather Jones, author of For King and Country
“This book is the result of decades of research and writing on Britain at war in the twentieth century. Authoritative and insightful, a classic piece of military history by one of the finest exponents of the genre.”—David G. Morgan-Owen, author of The Fear of Invasion
“A very impressive and vivid piece of work which pulls together a lifetime of scholarship by one of our finest military historians.”—Jonathan Boff, author of Haig’s Enemy
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