Books: A Gripping Insight to a Great Leader

Article excerpt

Byline: Billy Kennedy

Kitchener by John Pollock. Published by Robinson Publishing,London (paperback). pounds 12.99

THIS double-volume biography of one of Britain's most legendary army generals provides an illuminating insight into a soldier who played a key role in the Allied victory in the Great War of 1914-18.

Field Marshal Lord Horatio Herbert Kitchener was born near Listowel in Kerry in 1850, into an aristocratic family during a high point in the British Empire.

The Kitcheners had just bought a rambling estate on the Co Kerry border with Limerick, the family moving from England after Major Henry Kitchener retired from army service in India.

His son Herbert Kitchener, however, never considered himself Irish or even Anglo-Irish and left Ireland just before his 13th birthday.

This book is in two parts, with volume one tracing Kitchener's early career which involved him leading the Anglo-Egyptian force at Omburman and laying down the principles, and the second phase of the book opens with Kitchener of Khartoum arriving in the Indian Empire as Army commander-in-chief and his posting to Egypt as Pro-Consul.

When the Great War broke out Kitchener said it would last at least three years and he needed to raise a new army of three million men.

The author argues that despite his untimely death in June 1916, Kitchener was the architect of the Allied victory, and that his military planning was masterly.

For all his aversion to being called an Irishman, Kitchener made regular visits to kin and friends in Ulster.

He stayed at Mount Stewart near Newtownards, as a guest of the Marquis of Londonderry, a one-time Viceroy of Ireland and a member of Prime Minister Lord Salisbury's Cabinet. …