General Hastings ‘Pug’ Ismay

Soldier, Statesman, Diplomat: A New Biography

May 2024 9781911723202 424pp, 28 b&w illus
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Available as an eBook
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General Lord Ismay’s name is little known today, but he participated in, and was witness to, decision-making at the highest level of government, before, during and after the Second World War. Immediately prior to the outbreak of hostilities, he was Secretary of the Committee of Imperial Defence responsible for advising government on strategy and preparations for war. As wartime Chief Staff Officer to Prime Minister Winston Churchill, he became a close confidant and rarely left Churchill’s side, whether in Britain or abroad at international conferences. He was instrumental in conciliating the sometimes-fractious relationship between the Prime Minister and the Service Chiefs of Staff.

In 1947, Ismay went to India as Chief of Staff to the Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten, and was closely involved in the drama of Partition. As the first Secretary General of NATO from 1952 to 1957, he was instrumental in building the foundations of the Alliance and preserving its unity and cohesion at the height of the Cold War. He also played a central role in reshaping the higher management of defence in Britain, including the creation of the Ministry of Defence. This fascinating book tells the story of his life and work.


John Kiszely served in the British Army for forty years, including as Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff and Director General of the UK Defence Academy. He has been a visiting professor at King’s College London and visiting research fellow at the Changing Character of War Centre, University of Oxford.

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