The frustrating stalemate on the western front with its unprecedented casualties provoked a furious debate in London between the civil and military authorities over the best way to defeat Germany. The passions aroused continued to the present day. The mercurial and dynamic David Lloyd George stood at the centre of this controversy throughout the war. His intervention in military questions and determination to redirect strategy put him at odds with the leading soldiers and admirals of his day.

Professor Woodward, a student of the Great War for some four decades, explores the at times Byzantine atmosphere at Whitehall by exhaustive archival research in official and private papers. The focus is on Lloyd George and his adversaries such as Lord Kitchener, General Sir William Robertson, and Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig. The result is a fresh, compelling and detailed account of the interaction between civil and military authorities in total war.

chapter 1|12 pages

Birth of an “Easterner”

chapter 2|21 pages


chapter 5|19 pages

Wizard in the War Office

chapter 7|28 pages

The Nivelle Offensive

chapter 8|32 pages

Passchendaele: The Rack of Choice

chapter 9|32 pages


chapter 12|29 pages

The German Offensive and the Maurice Debate

chapter 13|35 pages

The Uncertain Road to Victory