Haig's Enemy: Crown Prince Rupprecht and Germany's War on the Western Front

ISBN : 9780199670468

Jonathan Boff
400 Pages
153 x 234 mm
Pub date
Mar 2018
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Joint winner of the 2018 Norman B. Tomlinson, Jr. Prize, awarded by the World War One Historical Association​

  • The in-depth story of the Western Front, as seen from the perspective of one of Germany's leading First World War generals
  • Illuminates the strengths and weaknesses of the imperial German army, its view on the First World War and British generals, and the relations between Prussia and the other German states
  • A new view of a dynamic 'battle-space', both physical and intellectual, where three armies struggled not only to out-fight but also to out-think their enemy
  • Also the tale of a personal tragedy — of a man who lost a son, a war, and a throne in the course of four short years

During the First World War, the British army's most consistent German opponent was Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria. Commanding more than a million men as a General, and then Field Marshal, in the Imperial German Army, he held off the attacks of the British Expeditionary Force under Sir John French and then Sir Douglas Haig for four long years. But Rupprecht was to lose not only the war, but his son and his throne. 
In Haig's Enemy, Jonathan Boff explores the tragic tale of Rupprecht's war — the story of a man caught under the wheels of modern industrial warfare. Providing a fresh viewpoint on the history of the Western Front, Boff draws on extensive research in the German archives to offer a history of the First World War from the other side of the barbed wire. He revises conventional explanations of why the Germans lost with an in-depth analysis of the nature of command, and of the institutional development of the British, French, and German armies as modern warfare was born. Using Rupprecht's own diaries and letters, many of them never before published, Haig's Enemy views the Great War through the eyes of one of Germany's leading generals, shedding new light on many of the controversies of the Western Front. 
The picture which emerges is far removed from the sterile stalemate of myth. Instead, Boff re-draws the Western Front as a highly dynamic battlespace, both physical and intellectual, where three armies struggled not only to out-fight, but also to out-think, their enemy. The consequences of falling behind in the race to adapt would be more terrible than ever imagined.


List of Maps

Part I: To War 1914
1: Rupprecht's Road to War
2: The Battle of the Frontiers
3: The End of the Campaign in Lorraine
4: The First Battle of the Somme
5: To Ypres

Part II: The Anvil 1915-16
6: A Difficult Winter
7: A Successful Spring
8: Further Victories
9: Verdun and the Road to the Somme
10: Early Days on the Somme
11: Rupprecht the General

Part III: Holding the Line 1916-17
12: Rupprecht takes Command
13: Autumn on the Somme
14: Scorched Earth
15: The Battle of Arras
16: The Battle for Flanders: Summer 1917
17: The Battle for Flanders: to Passchendaele
18: Cambrai

Part IV: Year of Defeats 1918
19: Planning the Spring Offensives
20: Operation MICHAEL
21: Operation GEORGETTE and Summer 1918
22: The Hundred Days
23: Rupprecht on the Run

Part V: Conclusions
24: Rupprecht the Field Marshal
25: Rupprecht and Politics
26: Last Words
Appendix: Note on Military Terminology

About the author: 

Jonathan Boff is a Senior Lecturer in History and War Studies at the University of Birmingham, where he teaches courses on conflict from Homer to Helmand. He specializes in the First World War and his previous book, Winning and Losing on the Western Front: The British Third Army and the Defeat of Germany in 1918 (CUP, 2012) was short-listed for the Templer Medal and for the British Army Book of the Year award. He was educated at Merton College, Oxford and the Department of War Studies, King's College London and spent twenty years working in finance before returning to academia. He serves on the councils of the National Army Museum and Army Records Society, has worked as a historical consultant with the British Army and the BBC, and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

Joint winner of the 2018 Norman B. Tomlinson, Jr. Prize for the best work of history in English on World War One, awarded by the World War One Historical Association
Shortlisted for the British Army Military Book of the Year, 2019 Year

Haig's Enemy helps us to understand how the German army developed and changed during the war, as well as how it came to lose. Boff charts an unedifying picture of lessons being learnt and forgotten, top-down interference from the higher command, as well as the growing intensity and lethality of the fighting ... [Haig's Enemy] illustrates the pressures and strains on one man at war, and how he did his best to mitigate them. - Nick Lloyd, The Times Literary Supplement
Using extensive German sources, Boffs scholarly military biography provides a fascinating insight not only into Rupprechts thinking, but also in the First World War from the German side. It is a fresh and unusual take on the war. - Taylor Downing, Military History Monthly
This scholarly but lucid and beautifully written account of the German High Command is essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand how the fighting on the Western Front developed during the First World War. - Professor Sir Michael Howard
Of all diaries and memoirs written by the senior German officers of the First World War, that of Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria has long been regarded as the most revealing. Yet Rupprecht himself has remained elusive, his contribution eclipsed by his more voluble and histrionic contemporaries. Jonathan Boff has not only brought him to life (and to an English audience), but done so in a book that ranges far more widely than a conventional biography. Readers will gain fresh perspectives on the British and French as much as they learn about Rupprecht's Bavarians. - Professor Sir Hew Strachan, University of St Andrews and editor of Oxfords Great Battles series
Haig's Enemy is a very welcome addition to the literature. As the title suggests, Crown Prince Rupprecht was one of the most significant German commanders to face the British Army across No Man's Land, but until now we have lacked a biography in English. What is more, Jonathan Boff has pulled off the rare trick of writing a book that is both scholarly and very readable - it is a triumph. - Gary Sheffield, Professor of War Studies, University of Wolverhampton

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