Talk:B. H. Liddell Hart

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Older comments[edit]

I think we need to add a bias disclaimer to this page. It seems biased, and cited attacks on Hart and his attempt to brand blitzk. as his own without citation. Funny, as when I google search John Keegan, I find a website with a few opening paragraphs trashing Hart, in a writing style similar to this article.

He arrived at his conclusions after studying the great strategists of history (especially Sun Tzu, Napoleon, and Belisarius) and their victories.

Did Sun Tzu *have* any victories? --Andersonblog 00:46, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

Legendarily yes; but of course if you accept more modern theories that Sun Tzu is a fiction under which a school of strategists compiled their theories... yes and no (being a fiction, he could not have done anything; on the other hand, some of those strategists must have had some victories, so does that count?). More grammatically, the crucial bit here is the use of "and"; it's not being used in the logic sense but rather more as an "or": Hart studied the strategists or their victoriesn (and possibly both). --maru (talk) contribs 03:57, 25 August 2006 (UTC)

didnt he say the famous line the 2 hardest things in the world are get a new idea into a military mind and an old idea outBouse23 14:50, 26 January 2007 (UTC)

"Paradoxically, Liddell Hart saw theories similar to or even developed from his own adopted by Germany and used against the United Kingdom and its allies during World War II with the practice of Blitzkrieg."

In the english translation of the book "Achtung, Panzer!" [Gen. Guderian] is a part, where Guderian said he was inspirated from theories of Hart. But in the german original you can't find this part. The translator was by the way Liddell Hart!

This was found out by the Irish military historian Dr. Dermot Bradley.

Thus legends are made. Pantau, germany


I do not think John Mearsheimer opinion is really needed simply due to the fact that it is nothing more then an opinion. If other wikipedia articles were fulled with all the opinions people had of the such persons it would be chaos and get in the way of the facts.

What does this sentence about Mearsheimer above refer to? There is no thread to connect it to. I find it strange that this article does not give any credit to Mearsheimer for being the first to expose Liddel-Hart as a fraud. Mearsheimer's book, which appeared in 1988, is referenced but not quoted; instead, other's works are quoted although written ten years later, and add nothing new to Mearsheimer's research. It was Mearsheimer's book that first put together the puzzle of Liddel Hart's deceit with the German generals, and places it firmly in the context of LH's faltering career following his disastrously influential predictions about the nature of WWII in Europe, and his subsequent attempt to bury these facts and rebuild his shattered reputation by manipulating the historical record. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 91.9.202.53 (talk) 14:56, 22 June 2009 (UTC)

There is controversy surrounding Basil Liddell Hart and this is not addressed in this article making appear as a non-NPOV article. He is accused of plagerism, Paris, or the Future of War by Hart, is almost word for word, idea for idea, Fuller's The Reformation of War. see Gat A History of Military Thought p665 see also K. Macksey, Guderian: Panzer General, 40-1; The Tank Pioneers, 118,216 as well as Mearsheimer, LH, 160-7,184-201 subotai 10-26-2006

Just how much Liddell Hart influenced armored warfare is debatable to say the least. 72.24.129.24 21:41, 5 May 2007 (UTC)

I concur that the section "myths and controversy" (even the title) is non-NPOV. Unnamed "Historians" are repeatedly referred to but only one, Shimon Naveh, is actually cited. It uses very strong language ("distorted", "falsified", "deceit", "fabricated", etc) and the discussion about "planting" of passages in Guderian's memoirs is susceptible to quite different interpretations; for example, Hart may have felt that Guderian had not given him proper credit and was requesting that the record be corrected. The fact that Guderian agreed to the revision suggests that he didn't object to giving credit to Hart. It's also hardly suprising that a version for a British audience might give greater credit to british thinkers than a version for a german audience. James Haughton (talk) 03:16, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

Liddell Hart and Eden[edit]

The anecdote about Hart, Eden, the inkstand and the wastepaper basket makes a lovely story, but it should really be deleted. According to Lord Owen’s article on “The effect of Prime Minister Anthony Eden's illness on his decision-making during the Suez crisis” (QJM: An International Journal of Medicine, Volume 98 (2005), No. 6, pp. 387-402 – available at http://qjmed.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/98/6/387#BIB30), the “story is pure fiction, as Liddell Hart’s wife and son confirm, since the men never actually met during the Suez Crisis.” (Tyler's Boy (talk) 11:14, 8 December 2009 (UTC))

Agree and I'm pulling it. Obvious anecdote.Strausszek (talk) 03:39, 5 August 2011 (UTC)

Suggested move of article to "B. H. Liddell Hart"[edit]

This is, I believe, the name Liddell Hart is most commonly known by, and the one he used on all his books. Redirects can be left in place from the current title, and any double redirects corrected. Beyond My Ken (talk) 04:43, 3 March 2010 (UTC)

I agree, and thanks for improving the article. It still seems quite biased against the the subject, I would correct it myself only I dont have any of the bios, I remember from some of my grandads army friends that Captain Hart seemned to have a much better rep than this article makes out. FeydHuxtable (talk) 14:59, 4 March 2010 (UTC)
His reputation has waned with time, I think. --Gwern (contribs) 16:04 4 March 2010 (GMT)
I'm reading Strategy, and I have to say that I'm a bit put off by Liddell Hart's analysis of the American Civil War, where he portrays Grant as a stodgy hidebound proponent of old-school "direct approaches", while Sherman is lauded as a shining example of the efficacy of the indirect approach, completely ignoring that Grant and Sherman together came up with the overall strategy, and that Sherman's taking of Atlanta and his March to the Sea would have been totally impossible if Grant didn't have Meade fully engaging Lee, preventing him from sending any re-inforcements south.

I don't know if Liddel Hart was blinded by conventional British thinking about Grant, or if it's from a lack of scholarship, or what, but his faulty analysis in that particular circumstance, about which I know a small amount, makes me start to suspect his analysis of other situations that I know much less about. That's unfortunate, because I thought he was making sense, as far as i could tell. Beyond My Ken (talk) 02:33, 9 March 2010 (UTC)

OK, since no one has jumped in to object, I'm going to start to make the move to "B. H. Liddell Hart", since it can always be moved back if necessary. Beyond My Ken (talk) 18:14, 7 March 2010 (UTC)

The change has been made, I've fixed all the double re-directs. Beyond My Ken (talk) 02:21, 8 March 2010 (UTC)

Bond's book 1977[edit]

Professor Bond was encouraged to study military history by Liddell Hart himself, so had to avoid writing a hagiography.

  • On Grant & Sherman - Liddell Hart had suffered in the trenches, saw Grant as a trench general, and so appreciated Sherman's indirect approach
  • On the Germans - teases out the influences and avoids Liddell Hart's conclusions. His infantry tactics were as influential as his armoured warfare theories.
  • On British WW2 strategy - by 1939 Liddell Hart considered that the defence had all the advantages, and opposed the Strategic bombing policy
  • On the Israeli army - said by Bond to be a pro-Zionist, Liddell Hart admired Wingate's views in the late 1930s, was asked for advice in 1948 before that war, and some chiefs of staff in the 1948-1956-1967-1973 wars acknowledged his influence.
  • On atomic warfare - in the 1950s supported NATO armies in Europe so as to create a tripwire; disliked Mutual assured destruction as the main policy.

A lot more could be added to the article from this book. Liddell Hart did not win any bravery awards in WW1, according to BB.86.42.196.3 (talk) 07:26, 30 May 2011 (UTC)

If this stuff is all sourceable, you should go ahead and add it to the article, with specific citations from the book. Just be careful to keep WP:WEIGHT in mind. We don't want a hagiography, but we don't want muck-raking either. Beyond My Ken (talk) 16:02, 30 May 2011 (UTC)

Deleted quote[edit]

Havent read all Captain Hart's work, but the quote added seemned to me entirely representative of his attitude towards the Germans. Is there a counter quote we're missing that shows Hart was really ambivelent to them? He even speaks admiringly about their WWI performane in his introduction of his book on the Roman general Scipio. Quite common for British officers and enlisted men to feel like that. Especially in WWI, but even in WW2 (my Grandfather was the same). The stories one hears about footy matches at Christmas are not made up. British soldiers knew that Germans were our ancient allies, and didnt blame the German army for the insanity of their national leaders. FeydHuxtable (talk) 20:19, 8 September 2012 (UTC)

The point is not that whether the quote is representative of his attitude toward Germany, but rather, why are we highlighting his attitude towards Germany at the expense of everything else he wrote and spoke about? That's the WP:WEIGHT issue, and also why we don't usually have quote sections - because there's too much danger of plucking out a single comment and having it stand (because it's the only quote) for the subject's entire life and work. I suggest the quote should go to wikiquote, where that is not an issue. Beyond My Ken (talk) 22:42, 8 September 2012 (UTC)

Blitzkrieg[edit]

From the intro of the referenced work:

Applying a systemic approach in the attempt to explore the roots of the theoretical dynamics guiding the German officer corps in the course of the 1930s reveals that the Blitzkrieg concept lacked the true fundamentals of operational thought. The accelerated growth of the armed forces, effectuated by a school of opportunistic technocrats under Hitler’s aegis, dictated the suppression of the surviving islands of operational perception that existed in the Wehrmacht. In other words, a fastidious study of the Ostheere and the Panzer Armee Afrika and the operational conduct of Guderian and Rommel, the spiritual fathers of the Blitzkrieg, proves that the bastard concept of the Blitzkrieg was the result of hyper-aggressive political ideology and a manipulation of tactical patterns of combat.
Suggesting nothing other than a tactical response to Hitler’s incoherent strategic aspirations, the Blitzkrieg concept lacked the conceptual framework of a written operational theory; not surprisingly even a superficial enquiry reveals that no elementary consensus existed within the Wehrmacht high command as to the operational substance of Blitzkrieg.

There are a number of problems here, one of which being referring to the Wehrmacht as the bed of controversy whereas it was the Heer, and secondly the notion that the Eastern Front and Panzer Armee Afrika were the locations of development and practice of Blitzkrieg, when in reality they were practiced there but were first practiced in Poland and then France. Rommel was no operational theorist, but a practitioner of mobile warfare. All that to say the argument seems tenuous and not adequate as a single source to justify the harsh charges brought against Liddell Hart. Gunbirddriver (talk) 02:13, 5 March 2013 (UTC)


I see my edits have been reverted three times, and neither editor has troubled themselves to respond here on the article talk page, nor on my own editor talk page. It would appear that at least one of them, Beyond My Ken, wishes to start an edit war, but I am not inclined to do so.

Regarding the material recently added, it is highly inflammatory and is derogatory to the subject of this wikipedia article. The author of the source is Shimon Naveh, an Israeli general and military theorist.

On his writing:

"It is not easy to understand; my writing is not intended for ordinary mortals," he says in an interview in his home in Hadera. He is not being entirely arrogant.

on his philosophy:

In my political outlook I am a lot more left than all of them. When I went to war in 1982 I went because I enjoy killing, but already in 1980-81 I said that a Palestinian state has to be established."


on the IDF General Staff:

Questions that irk him get a furious response, and mention of the names of most of the top IDF brass generates something resembling an attack of Tourette's syndrome and a torrent of rage, verbal abuse and death sentences for some of them. "They should be executed," he asserts. The interviewer's look of astonishment does not faze him. "As you see, I shit on most of them, and I don't give a damn," he says. Earlier, when his dog greeted him as he entered the house he said exultantly, "See him? He is smarter than most of the people on the General Staff."

and

"They are on the brink of illiteracy. The army's tragedy is that it is managed by battalion commanders who were good and generals who did not receive the tools to cope with their challenges. Halutz is not stupid, even Dudu Ben Bashat [the chief of the Navy in the Second Lebanon War] is not stupid, even though he is an idiot, and his successor [Major General Uri Marom] is a total bastard."

(from Dr. Naveh, or, how I learned to stop worrying and walk through walls by Yotam Feldman Haaretz Oct.25, 2007 http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/magazine/dr-naveh-or-how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-walk-through-walls-1.231912 )

on Chief of Staff Halutz:

What do you think about the Chief of the General Staff, Halutz? What’s your personal opinion? Does all the blame fall on him?
SN: He’s an idiot. In this sense he’s an idiot, as I said in the interview. He’s really a fool; he’s a clown. He signed something that he really has never bothered to learn, and I was trying to tell him to wait a minute. (from Interview with Shimon Naveh, by Matt Matthews, November 1st, 2007 http://smallwarsjournal.com/documents/mattmatthews.pdf)

Shimon Naveh may be a brilliant military conceptualist, and a fine fighter, but this is clearly not the cool, well-considered, disaffected presenter that Wikipedia is looking for in its encyclopedic voice. Mr. Shimon Naveh may be well versed in military history, but he is clearly prone to ad hominem attacks and as such his comments accusing others of lying and distorting the facts should not go into wikipedia without some effort to verify what he asserts.

I recommend that the author Shimon Naveh be removed as a source until his assertions can be verified. Please respond. Gunbirddriver (talk) 05:55, 5 March 2013 (UTC)

The whole passage on Naveh is flawed - firstly, the attack on Liddell-Hart's version of his influence on the Germans began long before Naveh and not by Israelis (see for example Mearsheimer's work and he is not alone - I have personally conducted a study of the development of German military doctrine and concluded that most of the supposedly Liddle-Hartian and Fullerian ideas that were adopted already existed in previous German thinking and some of Liddell-Hart's and Fuller's ideas were actually copied from the Germans, not vice versa - but that is another issue to be dealt with another time) and secondly the whole tirade on the IDF commanders has nothing to do with Liddel-Hart or his supposed influence on the IDF (an issue which is in any case in contest in academic studies of the IDF's development, and during the second half of the 1990s, when Naveh began his work on the subject in the IDF, very few Israeli officers had ever read Liddell-Hart beyond a couple of his slogans). I know Naveh personally, his character (of which the tirade quoted gives an example) and his work in depth. His objective was to develop a new way of conducting operations in the IDF. One can argue for or against his ideas, but they had nothing to do with Liddell-Hart's theories and should therfore not be included in this topic. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 77.126.167.179 (talk) 18:21, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
They are here because an editor inserted them into the article, quoting whole sections from Naveh's book where Naveh assailed the character of Liddell Hart and Guderian. Efforts to remove the inflammatory sections were repeatedly reverted, so it became necessary to add detail rather than remove it. As Naveh was the person being quoted, it was necessary to illustrate the general tenor of his rhetoric to put the attack on Liddell Hart in an adequate light. Naveh is not a dispassionate person when it comes to advancing his ideas.
As to Blitzkrieg warfare, the Germans were developing their own ideas, certainly, but they were not unaware of what the British tank enthusiasts (Fuller, Hobart) were doing, nor were they unaware of the writing of theorists such as Liddell Hart. Guderian's 1938 work Achtung Panzer! makes that clear. A number of prominent German commanders have been quoted in the section, fully supporting the idea that the German tank men were aware of the British. The degree of influence and independence of thought is more difficult to measure, especially in light of the fact that Liddell Hart communicated with many of them after the war. All that being said, I support the sections on Naveh being removed. I do not believe his criticisms of Liddell Hart and Guderian add substantively to the article. Gunbirddriver (talk) 05:32, 16 September 2013 (UTC)


Article issues[edit]

This article has multiple issues. Here is what I have time to write about right now.

The section on Liddell-Hart's theories of warfare is poorly structured. Only one theory is described, and its development, tenets, and principles are neither referenced (through a Main Article link) nor described. How does research into high casualty rates become a radical reimagining of mechanised units? Most wikipedia biographical sketches on theorists have, under the heading of Theory, subheadings such as each theory by name, influenced by, influnced, practical importance of theory, and criticism of theory. eg Theories, Indirect Approach, Development, Principles, Application to Mechanised Warfare, Influence on WWII, Blitzkreig, Criticisms. As the article currently stands, his personal history and politics are muddled into the section on theory, and there is much ambiguity in sequence of events. The contexts keep shifting, and so I cannot extract any meaningful information on his theories of warfare, their development, their importance, or their roles in his life.

The section regarding Naveh is deeply problematic. First, it is muddled: the development and claim of application have nothing to do with a Naveh Controversy, whatever that is. Second, usually criticisms on a theory are presented under a subheading of something like "Criticism" with each opponent's arguments in separate paragraphs. Third, from what was presented in this article, there was no criticism of the theory of indirect approach; he was questioning Liddell-Hart's claim that Blitzkreig was a direct application of his thoeries. Perhaps most importantly, the motivation and character of the crtiic are not relevant to the criticism. There is almost no information presented on Naveh's criticism. There are a plethora of policy violations, to wit:

"(Despite ample access and evidence to the facts, (bias, NPOV violation) Shimon Naveh, an Israeli military theorist, (sought to undermine Liddell Hart in Israeli military circles (bias, assumption of motivation)) by claiming that after the war Liddell Hart "created" the idea that Blitzkrieg was a military doctrine. Said Naveh, "It was the opposite of a doctrine. Blitzkrieg consisted of an avalanche of actions that were sorted out less by design and more by success."[31] (Naveh advanced this argument as a means to attack the credibility of Liddell Hart, who had become highly influential among the Israeli military.[32] (bias, assumption of motivation AND unreliable source for refutation) (Naveh claimed that by "manipulation and contrivance, Liddell Hart distorted the actual circumstances of the Blitzkrieg formation and obscured its origins. Through his indoctrinated idealization of an ostentatious concept he reinforced the myth of Blitzkrieg. By imposing, retrospectively, his own perceptions of mobile warfare upon the shallow concept of Blitzkrieg, he created a theoretical imbroglio that has taken 40 years to unravel".[33] Naveh claimed that in his letters to German generals Erich von Manstein and Guderian, as well as relatives and associates of Rommel, Liddell Hart "imposed his own fabricated version of Blitzkrieg on the latter and compelled him to proclaim it as original formula".[34] (construction manipulations: quote started in middle of sentence to distort meaning and combination of unrelated subjects))

(Naveh has a long history of attacking the intelligence and character of people he is in intellectual conflict with, including the General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces. Of these men he claimed in an interview: "They are on the brink of illiteracy. The army's tragedy is that it is managed by battalion commanders who were good and generals who did not receive the tools to cope with their challenges. Halutz is not stupid, even Dudu Ben Bashat is not stupid, even though he is an idiot, and his successor, Major General Uri Marom (sic), is a total bastard."[35] (ad hominem as well as non sequitur. equivalent to claiming that my peer-reviewed journal article is invalid because a political editorial poorly translated and quoted a rant about my boss from my facebook page.))

(To buttress his attack upon Liddell Hart (bias semantics)), Naveh sought to highlight the fact that the edition of Guderian's memoirs published in Germany differed from the one published in the United Kingdom in that Guderian neglected to mention the influence of the English theorists such as Fuller and Liddell Hart in the German-language versions. (One example of the influence of these men on Guderian was the report on the Battle of Cambrai published by Fuller in 1920, who at the time was a staff officer at the Royal Tank Corps. His findings and theories on armoured warfare were alleged by Liddell Hart to have been read and later taken up by Guderian, who helped to formulate the basis of operations that was to become known as Blitzkrieg warfare. These tactics involved deep penetration of the armoured formations supported behind enemy lines by bomb-carrying aircraft. Dive bombers were the principle agents of delivery of high explosives in support of the forward units.[36] (incorrect placement of entire section. this is not relevant to Naveh. this is Liddell-Hart's claim.)

Though the German version of Guderian's memoirs mentions Liddell Hart, it did not ascribe to him his role in developing the theories behind armoured warfare. (An explanation for the difference between the two translations can be found in the correspondence between the two men. (confirmation bias)) In one letter to Guderian, Liddell Hart reminded the German general that he should provide him the credit he was due, offering "You might care to insert a remark that I emphasized the use of armoured forces for long-range operations against the opposing Army's communications, and also the proposed type of armoured division combining Panzer and Panzer-infantry units – and that these points particularly impressed you."[37] In his early writings on mechanized warfare Liddell Hart proposed that infantry be carried along with the fast moving armoured formations. He described them as "tank marines" like the soldiers the Royal Navy carried with their ships. He proposed they be carried along in their own tracked vehicles and dismount to help take better defended positions that otherwise would hold up the armoured units. This contrasted with Fuller's ideas of a tank army, which put heavy emphasis on massed armoured formations. Liddell Hart foresaw the need for a combined arms force with mobile infantry and artillery, which was similar but not identical to the make up of the panzer divisions that Guderian created in Germany.[38] (again, wrong place: this should go in influence, or application. this is the basis for the Liddell-Hart's claim. Naveh's claim has nothing to do with the makeup or creation of the units. He claims that Blitzkreig was not a tactical doctrinal application of maneuver warfare.)

Guderian corrected the oversight, and did as Liddell Hart requested.[39] When Liddell Hart was questioned in 1968 about the oversight and difference between the English and German editions of Guderian's memoirs, he graciously replied merely: "There is nothing about the matter in my file of correspondence with Guderian himself except...that I thanked him...for what he said in that additional paragraph."[40] (biased wording. the evidence given here partially substantiates Naveh's claim that Liddell-Hart was writing to the generals to impose his views.)"


I have not made all of the edits because the article as a whole needs to be reworked with proper conceptual divisions. I have added a cleanup-rewrite tag. Elfwiki (talk) 12:22, 28 February 2014 (UTC)

It certainly could use a rewrite, with expansion on the extensive work he did both before and after the Second World War. Naveh is a poor critic, due both to the fact that his writing is designed primarily to advance his own theory, and due to the lack of a disppasionate voice in his writing. Removing the section on Nevah and his views on Blitzkrieg warfare and Liddell Hart seems appropriate to me. It would be best to actually join wikipedia prior to embarking on an extensive rewrite.Gunbirddriver (talk) 00:51, 3 March 2014 (UTC)

Post-War Interviews with the German Generals[edit]

I think this area has been neglected. It is a very important event in Liddell Hart's own drive to rebuild his reputation, and is key to his claims that he was influential on the likes of Guderian. I have tried to mention it a few times but my additions were removed.

If the author wishes to push Liddell Hart as an important and influential theorist, then I suggest that the interviews be given a more prominent role in the article. They act as a keystone for the revisionist argument but are simultaneously indicative of L H's standing in the eyes of the British at the time. Liddell Hart's book, "The German Generals Talk" (New York, 1948) came out of these interviews and is very telling, especially when combined with later correspondence between Liddell Hart and the Generals concerned.

At the moment, I'm afraid, the article reads very much as a hagiography and does not give enough exposure to the arguments of revisionist historians. The language used in the section on Naveh, for example, is unnecessarily dismissive. My comment that recent studies and publications have thrown doubt upon L H's claims was redacted, to be replaced by a much diluted comment. If we are to ignore the wealth of recent publications that question L H's claims then this is not a history but a simple hagiography.

Sadurian (talk) 11:53, 22 January 2014 (UTC)

In what manner are the post war interviews being neglected? Everyone loves to be a revisionist, but to accept the Mearsheimer view one has to accept a great deal of conjecture. The idea advanced appears to be that LH's motivation behind his post war interviews was that he could use them to create a narrative whereby his prewar theories were justified, a useful exercise in self-promotion. This is a rather cynical view, and it requires us to ignore a great deal of evidence. There is no question that LH wrote extensively in the 1920s on how the stalemate and slaughter of the First World War could have been avoided, that he theorized in these writings on the use of armoured forces, that he was a close associate of J. F. C. Fuller, that the two attempted to influemce the British General Staff with limited success, that they were well familiar with General Percy Hobart and the British Tank Brigade, and that the writings of Fuller and Liddell Hart were read by the officers of the German Panzerwaffe. After the war many German officers mentioned both Liddell Hart and Fuller as being theorists whose work they were familiar with. The fact that the British theorists influenced the younger German officers in the Panzerwaffe is hard to refute. Guderian mentions both by name in Achtung Panzer!. The German military asked Liddell Hart to come speak to them in the late 1930s, 1938 or so I believe. He was advised not to, and did not go (I am looking for the reference). But that would not happen if they did not value his ideas. Plus all the German officers that mention him, Thoma, Bayerlien, Mellenthin, Rommel, Guderian. Of these only Thoma was interviewed by LH while in POW confinement in 1945. Are we to believe that all these men had been compelled to lie about the knowledge of Liddell Hart? Conspiracy theories require a certain amount of suspension of disbelief. The notion that LH got all these officers to lie in order to promote himself is hard to accept, as it requires us to ignore his being mentioned by them prior to and during the conflict. When Guderian writes of his first meeting with Hitler as Inspector General of Armoured Troops, he is referencing notes that he had from the event, and a paper by Liddell Hart is mentioned as an item he wished to read out at the meeting. If it were made up how did the paper get into the notes he made for the meeting in 1943?
Clearly LH had an influence on the Panzerwaffe. The question then is one of degree. To claim that Guderian was Liddell Hart's pupil or that Liddell Hart is the author of the Blitzkrieg concept is certainly overstating things, but to claim that Liddell Hart did not have an influence is false by another degree. There is no doubt that LH was a self-promotor, but he was far more than that and the fact that a certain amount of reaching went on should not diminish the value of the tremendous amount of work that he did. I have read some of Mearsheimer's work, and I must say I did not find it compelling. The piece by Jay Luvaas (pdf = www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA515920) is worth a read.
As to an article that is mere hagiography: we want to be accurate. We want to be informative. We do not want the article to be a tribute. We do not want the article to be a hit piece. Conjecture is not helpful and we must be careful to avoid ascribing motives to things we do not know about. For example, LH writing The Other Side of the Hill had nothing to do with his wanting to improve his reputation. He wrote it because he had access to a number of German generals, he was fascinated by the history of the events, and he was curious to see what the Germans were thinking at various points in the conflict. No doubt though that in the back of his mind he did wish to increase his reputation. That was always the case, but at the same time he was devoted to seeking the truth. All these things were true at the same time.
In my opinion the article is far too brief, is superficial in its discussion of Liddell Hart's work, and spends far too much time on sensationalism, like the MI-5 probe into Liddell Hart's prospective on the problems of invading the continent, or a sentence added to the English version of Guderian's autobiography. Ultimately I am interested in improving the article. Gunbirddriver (talk) 21:17, 22 January 2014 (UTC)

The interviews currently have a single line, yet they are far more important to Liddell Hart's reputation and the discussion around it than a single line would warrant. By all-but ignoring the interviews the article is essentially ignoring a topic that has been much discussed by historians. Whether or not you agree or disagree with Mearsheimer is irrelevant - what is important is that he put forward a theory with supporting evidence and it has become a major point of discussion for historians. Without Mearsheimer we have no Gat[1], and so you have missed a large and important chunk of modern LH historiography.

I agree that Wikipedia is not the place for a protracted discussion of every theory put forward, but the controversy around the interviews ties with many other doubts about LH's self-claimed influence and to sweep the entire thing under the carpet is bad academic practice at best. If Wikipedia is to break its popular current image as an untrustworthy source written by amateurs, its articles need to present both sides of any discussion rather than just presenting one as 'the Truth'. I'd suggest that Mearsheimer's argument is presented, possibly with Azar Gat's subsequent addressing of the argument. Relying on Bond is rather like asking Liddell Hart to write his own page. Sadurian (talk) 13:14, 29 January 2014 (UTC)

The German Generals Talk was an historical review of the events of the Second World War in Europe, Africa and Russia, with pains taken to explain how such a disaster could befall Germany when the German General Staff was not inhabited by foolish men. It describes how Hitler came to dominate the military, and how political moves made by the West prior to the invasion of Poland strengthened his hand and limited the opportunities the German officer corps had to avoid the conflagration. It explains some of those things that seemed so very curious at the time, such as the German decision to halt before Dunkirk and the resultant escape of the BEF, Hitler's lack of use of paratroops in Russia after they had had such success in 1940, and the internal arguments over the campaign against Russia, how it played out and the disastrous consequences of their failing to bring the campaign to a close. It also discusses the culture of the German General Staff, how stressing of operative methods and the purposeful de-emphasis of grand strategy in the training of the officer corps led to a technically proficient staff that lacked genius and were unable to counter Hitler in their arguments over the big picture. A fair amount of time is spent on the fighting in the east, with the emphasis on accessing how the Western Allies might fair in a confrontation with the Soviets over control of Europe. Offensive methods. Defensive methods. The German impression of the character of the Soviet soldier and the capability of the Soviet officers.
He does claim that he was told by the officers he interviewed that they had read his work, and how this fact created a collegiality which allowed for the exchange of views on military operations to be done dispassionately.(p. 113) He asserts that General Thoma remarked to him that the German tank men were well familiar with the writings of Fuller and himself.(p. 93) The briefness of these aside mentions make clear that the book is no tribute to Liddell Hart and his ideas of armoured warfare. In addition, neither of these assertions is hard to believe. In fact, it is much harder to argue the opposite. To do so we would be forced to accept the following: The German officer corps had never heard of Fuller or Liddell Hart. The German tank men were ignorant of the developments and theories of armoured warfare that were going on outside of their own nation. All the German officers were liars. All the German officers were very capable liars, for they all told the same lies, and they told them in a consistent way. Liddell Hart was more committed to self aggrandizement then he was to discovering the truth. Liddell Hart himself was a liar. To me, that is a great deal for one to accept on faith.
If more than one line on The German Generals Talk is needed, then it should be focused on Liddell Hart's explanations for how Hitler was able to seize control over the military, how Hitler's early successes led to utter disaster for the nation, or it should expand on Liddell Hart's insights on how the lack of vision of a grand strategy on the part of the German General Staff resulted in their being caught in a war of attrition with the world's emerging great powers that they could not possibly hope to win. These were the valuable take homes from the book, not whether or not Liddell Hart was responsible for blitzkrieg warfare. Gunbirddriver (talk) 04:55, 30 January 2014 (UTC)


That Liddell Hart was a self-publicist who had a habit of altering facts to suit his own interpretation of history is supported in his own correspondence and papers. Sadurian (talk) 12:04, 31 January 2014 (UTC)

Liddell Hart was a military theorist and governmental advisor. Obtaining recognition is essential to establishing influence. In the first twenty years of his writing career he was more of a polemist, that is he made arguments to influence thinking. He used historical episodes to illustrate and support his argument, skipping past those elements that would tend to argue against his position. That simply is argument.Gunbirddriver (talk) 05:00, 3 February 2014 (UTC)

He bombarded Hore-Belisha with letters begging for an honour, and there is evidence that he had done the same to H-B's predecessor, Duff Cooper.[2]Sadurian (talk) 12:04, 31 January 2014 (UTC)

He was a key adviser to Hore-Belisha for over a year, and he bombarded a lot of people with his writings and letters. He did that all through his life. He sought to influence the British General Staff and the British government. He did this in the hopes of helping Britain find its way around mistakes made in tactics, strategy and policy, and avoid the disaster of the First World War. Attempting to gain influence is a common undertaking. Are we to suppose that someone such as John Mearsheimer does not attempt to gain influence? Why do you think he troubled himself to write about Liddell Hart, who has been dead for some forty years? What might have been Mr. Mearsheimer's motives, one wonders?Gunbirddriver (talk) 05:00, 3 February 2014 (UTC)

He also claimed to have influenced Fuller in the latter's formulation of armoured warfare theory, yet the correspondence between the two men clearly shows that the influence worked the other way around.[3]Sadurian (talk) 12:04, 31 January 2014 (UTC)

Where is this claim made? In what way does he claim to have influenced Fuller? The two exchanged a great deal of communication, but in everything that I have read Liddell Hart always acknowledged Fuller as the leader in British armoured theory and was quite deferential to him.Gunbirddriver (talk) 05:00, 3 February 2014 (UTC)

With that in mind, to use Liddell Hart's own work as evidence of his reliability is poor scholarship and unlikely to be convincing. Sadurian (talk) 12:04, 31 January 2014 (UTC)

The point of the my response on 30 January was to spell out for you what the German Generals Talk was actually about – that is, to explain to you what Liddell Hart spent three hundred pages discussing. The references there to himself were extremely brief, underscoring what was obvious to any reader of the work, which is that the work was not written for the purpose of self-promotion. In a biography of Erwin Rommel that he published in 1950, Brigadier General Desmond Young writes "Both he (Rommel) and Guderian had already studied the writings of General Fuller and and Captain Liddell Hart with more attention then they received from most British senior officers." (p. 48) That is, before Panzer Leader was published, before The Rommel Papers was published. Would Mearsheimer have us believe that General Young is part of the cabal? Another unwitting dupe? Unlikely. As to argument, criticizing Liddell Hart’s work without troubling oneself to take the time to actually read it strikes me as a far more egregious error, or lack of scholarship if you will.Gunbirddriver (talk) 05:00, 3 February 2014 (UTC)

Even Danchev, a supporter of Liddell Hart, suggests that Liddell Hart's motives in conducting the interviews at Grizedale Hall and then offering to edit, translate and publish the memoirs and works or the German generals, was self-serving.[4] Sadurian (talk) 12:04, 31 January 2014 (UTC)

Whether it is Danchev or someone else, speculating on the motives behind another man’s actions is of limited value. It is conjecture, or fiction writing, and though it may be fun to speculate, such speculation is far more often wrong than right. In point of fact German generals in the period of time immediately following the war were a group of people that were not favorably viewed, most anywhere. To interview and write a book on their perspective of the events of the previous war three years after the conflict strikes me as courageous. His work could have brought condemnation to himself far more easily then acclaim. For all we know, it did.Gunbirddriver (talk) 05:00, 3 February 2014 (UTC)

In any case, it is not at all necessary to assume that 'The German officer corps had never heard of Fuller or Liddell Hart' or that 'The German tank men were ignorant of the developments and theories of armoured warfare that were going on outside of their own nation.' All that is required is to not take Liddell Hart's own claims at face value.Sadurian (talk) 12:04, 31 January 2014 (UTC)

Good. So you concede that Fuller and Liddell Hart were read by the officers of the Reichswehr and were influential to the development of their thinking. I would agree with that. Now then, it is only a question of degree. As to that it really doesn’t matter what Liddell Hart said about the degree of influence he had on them, for who can really say? The German officers largely said that he was influential to their thinking, and if you choose not to believe them than fine for you. But even if the opposite were true, that the German officers were all lying about having had Fuller and Liddell Hart translated, that General Leo Geyr never wrote to Liddell Hart in August of 1935 or February and May of 1936 asking him to come to speak to them, and that these men had no influence on the development of German armoured forces whatsoever, Liddell Hart would still be the most prolific, most widely read and most influential military theorist of the twentieth century.Gunbirddriver (talk) 05:00, 3 February 2014 (UTC)

To ignore the wealth of historiographical discussion surrounding Liddell Hart is doing the subject a great disservice. Mentioning that there is a controversy is not the same as agreeing with its findings.Sadurian (talk) 12:04, 31 January 2014 (UTC)

Historiography is all well and good, but it strikes me that the Wikipedia article on Liddell Hart should be more about his life and writings rather than on people’s impressions of what his motives were for writing. It is a difficult thing to assign motives to other people, and that largely is what is being done when people start writing about the history of history. What Liddell Hart said, wrote and did are all valuable and worth considering being mentioned. I do not think it is the province of a Wikipedia article to go beyond that. Gunbirddriver (talk) 05:00, 3 February 2014 (UTC)

Notes

  1. ^ Gat, Azar (2000). British Armour Theory and the Rise of the Panzer Arm: Revising the Revisionists. New York: St Martins Press. ISBN 0-312-22952-6. 
  2. ^ Danchev, Alex (1999). Alchemist of War: The Life of Basil Liddell Hart. Basingstoke: Phoenix. p. 241. 
  3. ^ Gat, Azar (2000). British Armour Theory and the Rise of the Panzer Arm: Revising the Revisionists. London: Macmillan. p. 2. 
  4. ^ Danchev, Alex (1999). Alchemist at War: The Life of Basil Liddell Hart. Basingstoke: Phoenix. pp. 223–225.