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Not a Single Tennis Court – “The Guns of August 1914”, Barbara Tuchman

March 31st, 2012 · No Comments · Criticism, Culture, History, Sport, War, WW1

The (Russian) officer corps was top-heavy with a superabundance of aged generals whose heaviest intellectual exercise was card-playing and who, to save their court perquisites and prestige, were kept on the active list regardless of activity. Officers were appointed and promoted chiefly through patronage, social or monetary, and although there were among them many brave and able soldiers the system did not tend to bring the best to the top. Their ‘laziness and lack of interest’ in outdoor sports dismayed a British military attaché who, on visiting a frontier garrison near the Afghan border, was appalled to find ‘not a single tennis court’.

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