After a vivid account of the fraught conversations between Whitehall and Britain’s embassies across Europe as disaster loomed in July 1914, Heffer explains why a government so desperate to avoid conflict found itself championing it. He describes the high politics and low skulduggery and he unpicks the arguments between politicians and generals about how to prosecute the war. He looks at the impact of four years of struggle on everyday life as people sought to cope with dwindling stocks of food and essential supplies, with conscription into the Army or wartime industries, with air-raids and with the ever-present threat of bereavement; and, in Ireland, with the political upheaval that followed the Easter Rising. And he shows how, in the spring of 1918, political obstinacy and incompetence saw all this sacrifice almost thrown away.
Simon Heffer was born in 1960. He read English at Cambridge and took a PhD in modern history at that university. His previous books include: Moral Desperado: A Life of Thomas Carlyle, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell, Power and Place: The Political Consequences of King Edward VII, Nor Shall My Sword: The Reinvention of England, Vaughan Williams, Strictly English, A Short History of Power, Simply English and High Minds: The Victorians and the Birth of Modern Britain. In a thirty-year career in Fleet Street, he has held senior editorial positions on The Daily Telegraph and The Spectator, and is now a columnist for The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph.