Richard Dannatt and Robert Lyman, "Victory to Defeat: The British Army 1918-40" (Bloomsbury, 2023)


The British Army won a convincing series of victories between 1916 and 1918. But by 1939 the British Army was an entirely different animal. The hard-won knowledge, experience and strategic vision that delivered victory after victory in the closing stages of the First World War had been lost. In the inter-war years there was plenty of talking, but very little focus on who Britain might have to fight, and how

Richard Dannatt and Robert Lyman's book Victory to Defeat: The British Army 1918-40 (Bloomsbury, 2023) clearly illustrates how the British Army wasn't prepared to fight a first-class European Army in 1939 for the simple reason that as a country Britain hadn't prepared itself to do so. The failure of the army's leadership led directly to its abysmal performance in Norway and France in 1940.

Victory to Defeat is a captivating history of the mismanagement of a war-winning army. It is also a stark warning that we neglect to understand who our enemy might be, and how to defeat him, at the peril of our country. The British Army is now to be cut to its smallest size since 1714. Are we, this book asks, repeating the same mistakes again?

General The Lord Dannatt GCB CBE MC DL is one of the UK's most respected military commentators. He was chief of the Defense Staff and Commander-in-chief, 2006-2009.

Robert Lyman is one of Britain's top military historians. He spent 20 years in the British Army and he is currently a Research Fellow at the Changing Face of War Centre, Pembroke College, University of Oxford.

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Charles Coutinho

Charles Coutinho, PH. D., Associate Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, received his doctorate from New York University. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written for Chatham House’s International Affairs, the Institute of Historical Research's Reviews in History and the University of Rouen's online periodical Cercles.

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