Alan Brooke - Churchill's Right-Hand Critic

A Reappraisal of Lord Alanbrooke

Andrew Sangster

A new biography of Lord Alanbrooke, following his life from childhood through to his role as Chief Imperial General Staff, shaping Allied strategy in World War II.
Date Published :
April 2021
Publisher :
Illustration :
30 photographs
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781612009681
Pages : 368
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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This new biography focusses on the war years, exploring why he was the right man for the job, and why he has been overlooked since the Allied victory.

Lord Alanbrooke was Churchill’s right-hand man during World War II, and as Chief of the Imperial General Staff he had an integral part in shaping the strategy of Britain and the Allies. Despite this crucial role, he is very little known compared to military commanders such as Montgomery, Alexander, Slim, Mountbatten, Patton, or Eisenhower. This new biography of Lord Alanbrooke uses archival material and his diaries to trace his life, including his experiences in World War I and the development of his military career in the interwar years, with a focus on his post as the Chief of the Imperial General Staff during World War II.

Voted the greatest Briton of the 20th century, Churchill has long been credited with almost single-handedly leading his country to victory in World War II. However without Brooke, a skilled tactician, at his side the outcome might well have been disastrous. Brooke more often than not served as a brake on some of Churchill’s more impetuous ideas. However, while Brooke's diaries reveal his fury with some of Churchill's decisions, they also reveal his respect and admiration for the wartime prime minister. In return Churchill must surely have considered Brooke one of his most difficult subordinates but later wrote that he was "fearless, formidable, articulate, and in the end convincing."

As CIGS, Brooke was integral to coordination between the Allied forces, and so had to wrestle with the cultural strategy clash between the British and Americans. Comments in his diaries offer up his opinions of both his British and American military colleagues – his negative assessments of Mountbatten’s ability, and acerbic comments on the difficult character of de Gaulle and the weaknesses of Eisenhower. Conversely he was clearly over-indulgent in the face of Montgomery's foibles. Brooke was often seen as a stern and humorless figure, but a study of his private life reveals an little-seen lighter side, a lifelong passion for birdwatching, and abiding love for his family. The two tragedies that befell his immediate family were a critical influence on his life. Sangster completes this new biography with a survey of the way various historians have assessed Brooke, explaining how he has lapsed into seeming obscurity in the years since his crucial part in the Allied victory in World War II.

About The Author

Dr Andrew Sangster holds his doctorate in Modern European History as well as degrees in Law, Theology, History and English. He has written several biographies including Lord Alan Brooke, Beria, Franco, Göring, Goebbels, Himmler, a history of France 1936–46 and an account of the main European Secret Services before 1939.


1: Early Background
2: Interbellum Years
3: War
4: 1940
5: 1941
6: 1942
7: 1943
8: 1944
9: Final Months
10: Postwar
11: Contemporaries
12: Historians
13: Brookie


“Sangster shows us a very skilled, knowledgable, and thoughtful soldier, very focused on his mission, willling to criticise his superiors, notably Churchill, with whom he often disagreed and who usually came around to Brooke’s perspective. An excellent book for anyone interested in military leadership.”

- The NYMAS Review

Andrew Sangster’s biography of Lord Alanbrooke fills a gap in the history of the British war effort and clears the delicate issue of Alanbrooke’s diaries. The author, apart from writing a good and enjoyable biography that is well written and easy to read, also raises significant issues hardly touched before.

- Dr. Pier Paolo Battistelli, Ph.D. in military history and freelance author.

"As Sangster notes the central evidence in a study of Brooke is the diary he faithfully kept throughout the Second World War."

- A Blog on Winston Churchill

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