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A number of leading British and Australian historians have cited that a comprehensive study of Field Marshal Lord Birdwood is long overdue. He was a very significant general at Gallipoli, commanding the Anzacs, and leading the successful final evacuations. Throughout his life he displayed great diplomatic acumen and his later years were both militarily and politically significant.
Richard Farrimond’s Birdie deals with one of the most long-lived of the senior British officers of the Great War, William Birdwood (1865-1951) … seemingly easy to pigeon-hole: classic Indian Army officer, protégé of Kitchener, somewhat indolent corps and army commander who seemed to avoid the catastrophes and controversies … commander-in-chief in India and field marshal, enjoying a long and apparently fulfilled retirement. Farrimond’s biography – the first study of Birdwood’s entire life – complicates that easy characterisation, in the most productive way. … a career which did not rely merely on luck, patronage or amiability, though Birdwood benefitted from all three: he could easily have been killed at Colenso in South Africa or on Gallipoli. As Farrimond shows, Birdwood worked hard … and possessed a solid core of competence and command which belied his agreeable style. … There was indeed more to Birdwood than we might have assumed … In taking us with him on this journey – riding alongside Birdie, as it were – Richard Farrimond proves a thorough and thought- provoking companion and guide. Thanks to his Birdie, we can never again look on Birdwood with such complacency.
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