The Donkeys

"Lions led by donkeys" is a phrase popularly used to describe the British infantry of the First World War and to condemn the generals who commanded them. The contention is that the brave soldiers (lions) were sent to their deaths by incompetent and indifferent leaders (donkeys). The phrase was the source of the title of one of the most scathing examinations of British First World War generals, The Donkeys by politician and writer of military histories Alan Clark. While the book was representative of much First World War history produced in the 1960s and was not outside the mainstream—Basil Liddell Hart is said to have vetted Clark's drafts—the work and its viewpoint of incompetent military leaders have both been subject to more recent criticism.

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