But clearly he was a humorless, not very lovable man – pessimistic, skeptical, highly intelligent, superficially cold and reserved, but with strong inner tensions which occasionally broke through the impersonal tone of his writing in savage whiplash comments. He wrote in a complicated style, overloaded and lacking in charm. He refused to make the slightest concession to his audience, wether in style or in treatment of the subject. Nothing mattered but the events and the issues; these he would get right by persistent devotion to accuracy and understanding, and he would report his findings plain. Let the reader who wants romance go elsewhere, he says, I am not writing for the applause of the moment, but for all time.
He was a young man, probably in his late twenties, when the war began. Immediately, he perceived that this would be the war on an unprecedented scale, and he decided to become its historian.
M. I. Finley