Posts tagged: Dr Brian Hall

Salford Historian Dr Brian Hall Wins Top National Prize

Dr Brian Hall, Lecturer in Contemporary Military and International History, has been awarded the ‘Whitfield Prize for 2018’ for the best first book on British or Irish History by the Royal Historical Society. The award was made in London during this summer, Friday, 6 July, when Brian was presented with the prize by the Society’s President, Prof Margot Finn.

His book, Communications and British Operations on the Western Front, 1914-1918, published last year by Cambridge University Press, came out on top in a strong field of seven monographs which were shortlisted for the prize. The Whitfield Prize is awarded for books which are original works of scholarship, they must be the author’s first work, published in English, and by an author who received their doctoral degree from a British or Irish university. Brian’s book was chosen from a shortlist of works by authors who received their PhDs from, among other institutions, the universities of Newcastle, Cambridge, Oxford, Birmingham and Queen’s Belfast.

Dr Brian Hall Receives his Prize from Prof Margot Finn

 

According to the judges: “Communications and British Operations on the Western Front, 1914-1918 is a landmark of First World War scholarship. Drawing on an impressive range of primary sources, the book is a compelling piece of historical exposition. It draws attention to an aspect of warfare that is vitally important and yet curiously neglected in the existing literature – the extent to which the participants know what is going on, and the methods they use to try to find out. A wide range of historians will be obliged to take note of this book’s lessons.”

Alaric Searle, Research Lead for Politics and Contemporary History, and Professor of Modern European History in the School of Arts and Media, commented: “This award is a fantastic accolade for Brian. This prize has been awarded continuously since 1977 and no former PhD student from Salford, or member of staff, has ever won it before. Furthermore, it is has been rare for authors of books on twentieth-century history to win; and, as if this was not enough, this is the first time that a straight work of military history has ever won.

And he added: “Thus, this prize has seen several ‘firsts’ for Salford, not least of all as Brian’s colleague Dan Lomas was also short-listed for the prize. As Brian completed all his degrees in Salford (as did Dan), this is very much a ‘made-in-Salford’ story.”

The Whitfield Prize for History, together with the Gladstone Prize for the best book on a topic not primarily related to British History, are two of the most prestigious early career awards in Britain and Ireland, carrying particular weight due to the central role of the Royal Historical Society in representing the views of academic historians in the UK. The award of the Whitfield Prize to Brian also sees him win in the 150th Anniversary Year of the Society.

 


Salford Military Historians Deliver Papers at Practitioner Conference at Pembroke College, Oxford

On Monday, 6 March 2017, three Salford academics delivered papers at a one-day conference held at Pembroke College, Oxford. The conference on ‘Military Doctrine: Past, Present and Future’ saw historians and armed forces practitioners meet to discuss the way in which military doctrine has been formulated and disseminated in the past, with a discussion on how past and current experience can inform future practice. The conference was hosted by the Oxford Changing Character of War (CCW) Programme. Three Salford military historians – Dr Brian Hall, Professor Alaric Searle and Dr James Corum – delivered papers, together with other academics and several practitioners.

Dr Brian Hall, Prof Alaric Searle and Dr James Corum at Pembroke College

Dr Brian Hall, Prof Alaric Searle and Dr James Corum at Pembroke College

 

‘The idea for the conference emerged after a discussion I had with Dr Robert Johnson, Director of the CCW Programme, while I was a Visiting Fellow at Pembroke last semester’, explained Alaric Searle, Professor of Modern European History in the School of Arts and Media. ‘The basic idea was that if we considered how military organisations had developed their doctrines from a historical perspective there might be lessons which contemporary military organisations could draw to inform future practice. If we invited those who had written recent doctrine, then that would create a discussion between practitioners and historians.’

 

Military doctrine is, in essence, what armies put in their manuals; the process itself can be very contentious, often leading to major internal controversies inside armed forces. The aim of the conference was to provide an international, historical perspective, and combine these papers with presentations by those who had been involved in the process in the past. Professor Searle began the conference with an overview of historical experience and the lessons which suggested themselves. Dr Brian Hall, Lecturer in Contemporary Military History, offered a case study of British communications doctrine in the First World War. Dr James Corum, Lecturer in Terrorism and Security Studies, one of the co-authors of the US Army FM 3-24: Counterinsurgency manual of 2006, written under the direction of General David Petraeus, reported on the experience of doctrine-writing for what has turned out to be the most down-loaded field manual in history.

 

The conference provided an opportunity for Salford to showcase its expertise in both military history and high-level practitioner experience. Professor Searle noted: ‘It is always very pleasurable as a historian to be able to engage in debate with military professionals and test one’s ideas and interpretations with those who have been involved in real-world policy making, even if it is at times slightly intimidating to be debating with high-ranking officers. However, my experience has been that quality research can very often throw interesting new perspectives on practical problems.’ He added: ‘While the general public often regard history as something which is not particularly practical, it often is extremely useful for policy-makers. Events such these demonstrate the relevance and importance of historians and political scientists for the University of Salford’s ICZ agenda.’