Lord Kitchener and Lord Haig are two monumental figures of the First World War. Their reputations, both in their lifetimes and after their deaths, have been attacked and defended, scrutinized and contested. They have been depicted in film, print and public memorials in Britain and the wider world, and new biographies of both men appear to this day. The material representations of Haig and Kitchener were shaped, used and manipulated for official and popular ends by a variety of groups at different times during the twentieth century. The purpose of this study is not to discover the real individual, nor to attack or defend their reputations, rather it is an exploration of how both men have been depicted since their deaths and to consider what this tells us about the nature and meaning of First World War commemoration. While Haig's representation was more contested before the Second World War than was Kitchener's, with several constituencies trying to fashion and use Haig's memory - the Government, the British Legion, ex-servicemen themselves, and bereaved families - it was probably less contested, but overwhelmingly more negative, than Kitchener's after the Second World War. The book sheds light on the notion of 'heroic' masculinity - questioning, in particular, the degree to which the image of the common soldier replaced that of the high commander in the popular imagination - and explores how the military heritage in the twentieth century came into collision with the culture of modernity. It also contributes to ongoing debates in British historiography and to the larger debates over the social construction of memory, the problematic relation between what is considered 'heritage' and 'history', and the need for historians to be sensitive and attentive to the interconnections between heritage and history and their contexts.
Stephen Heathorn is Professor of British History and Director of Graduate Studies of the Department of History at McMaster University, Canada. He is the author of For Home, Country and Race (University of Toronto Press, 2000) and more than two dozen academic articles on the history of nationalism, commemoration and heritage in Britain.
’This is an excellent and enjoyable book that makes readers think afresh about what they already know and persuade them of its interpretation. The direction and the methodology is innovative and makes a real contribution to the fields of modern British history and the study of the remembrance of the First World War. Heathorn is particularly to be congratulated on his ability to match the history of the memorialisation of Kitchener and Haig into a broader history of Britain in the twentieth century - an impressive achievement.’ Dan Todman, Queen Mary University of London, UK 'Through a fascinating and wide-ranging examination of material culture, [Heathorn] traces how the remembrance of Haig and Kitchener was appropriated and manipulated by various cultural and political agencies over the course of the twentieth century, and considers what impact this had on the collective memory of the war.' American Historical Review ’... a thoroughly researched and highly readable testament to the value of studying public individuals and how their popular profile can be used to tease out larger social, political, and cultural trends.’ Twentieth-Century British History ’Stephen Heathorn has written an interesting and well-informed analysis of the changing representations of two men whose names have been very closely associated with the First World War. [...]There is much to recommend in this book for general reader and specialist alike.’ War in History ’...the generals have been well served by their historian. Heathorn shows us that Kitchener and Haig have been, since their deaths, both more and less than great commanders in the collective remembrance; both came to symbolize far more in death than they did in life.’ Social History 'Heathorn's focused analysis offers a great deal for those exploring the changing cultural remembrance of the First World War in depth ... those familiar with the field will find it enriches and reinforces their understandings