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1914-1918: The History of the First World War Paperback – 25 Oct 2012


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Product details

  • Paperback: 784 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (25 Oct. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 071819795X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0718197957
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.6 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 68,827 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

David Stevenson is the real deal ... His defining characteristic is his outstanding rigour as an historian ... tremendously clever (Niall Ferguson)

It's harder to imagine a better single-volume comprehensive history of the conflict than this superb study (Ian Kershaw)

Perhaps the best comprehensive one-volume history of the war yet written (New Yorker)

This history of the 1914-1918 conflict surpasses all others. It is tough, erudite and comprehensive (Independent)

About the Author

David Stevenson is a Professor of International History at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and author of the highly praised 1914-1918: The History of the First World War: 'Momentous... this history of the conflict surpasses all others', Independent; 'Superb', Ian Kershaw; 'David Stevenson is the real deal', Niall Ferguson; 'The best comprehensive one-volume history of the war yet written', New Yorker.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By I. S. Barker on 4 Jan. 2009
Format: Paperback
If you think that the European powers stumbled into the Great War by accident; that the generals were numbskulls who learned nothing from the slaughter on the Somme or at Verdun; or that the sudden collapse of Germany in 1918 owed little to British and French efforts, then read this book and think again.

This is a superb history of World War One, clearly written and comprehensive in its scope. Stevenson is clear that the origins of the war were not accidental. Politicians on both sides had choices and they chose war or the threat of war as preferable to the alternatives. In particular Austria-Hungary and Germany wanted a war in the Balkans and were willing to risk its escalation into a general European war.

This isn't a purely military history, although there are enough military details to understand why in the central years of the war defence usually prevailed over attack and neither side was able to achieve a decisive breakthrough on the Western Front. Stephenson shows how military tactics evolved on both sides and while the new weapons of tanks, gas and aircraft played a part, the decisive innovations were in the co-ordination of artillery with infantry.

Stevenson shows how the Allies were able to mobilise their greater economic resources and enforce the blockade of Germany and translate these into a military superiority that was able to absorb the Ludendorff offensives in early 1918 and then break the German resistance in Flanders. In this, the repeated willingness of Germany to risk all on further military initiatives brought about its own defeat. The decision to adopt unrestricted submarine warfare in 1917 brought the USA into the war. The 1918 offensives broke the German army while ultimately failing to break the Allies.

This is an impressive book that changed my views on the origins and conduct of the war.
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86 of 88 people found the following review helpful By David Webb on 28 Feb. 2006
Format: Paperback
I thought this a magnificent book. Its 600 pages are written in crystal clear English, covering the political, economic and military aspects of the War. The major campaigns of this global conflict are all well described, as is life on the home fronts of the Allies and the Central Powers. The origins are well described, while the chapters on the aftermath are particularly helpful. I recommend it strongly to those wishing to read a comprehensive history of the conflict for the first time, while those who have read other works on the War will find many new perspectives here. This book is superb value.
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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful By John Ferngrove TOP 500 REVIEWER on 10 Aug. 2008
Format: Paperback
This was the first serious book on WWI that I read. It should be made clear, as I think another reviewer bemoans, that this is not a chronological military history, but rather a 'meta'-historical account that examines the war from various perspectives running orthogonal to the timeline. So we come to understand the social, economic, industrial and political dimensions of the war.

I give it five stars because it exploded so many of the pre-conceptions I had held about the war. In the 60s & 70s when I was doing my O-level history at school the wisdom imparted was that WWI was a misery inflicted upon the masses by an uncaring ruling class. I now understand that none of the belligerent populations (with the complex exception of Russia) would have tolerated capitulation by their governments. I learned how Lloyd George as minister of munitions transformed Britain's munitions industry (that was making more duds than effectives) from a haphazard and rather ineffectual club of gentleman industrialists into a unified system of mass production that put Britain back into the fight. We learn about decisive technological and strategic failures and the decisive strategic and technological successes.

One of the most interesting chapters is the final one that deals with the history of Germany's war guilt. Once more the wisdom taught in my schooldays was that Germany was the unequivocal villain in the whole tragedy. But we find in this chapter that there was a long and complex story that lead up to Germany accepting this mantle that was actually encouraged by its more straightforward culpability for WWII. And that the story might yet take another twist as modern Germany starts to examine the origins afresh.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Richard Blevins on 2 Oct. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The star rating is for the book, the publishers however would not get a single star due to their stupid penny pinching decisions in regards to printing.
After reading Robert K Massies staggeringly readable "Dreadnought" almost non stop detailing the events leading up to the start of the first world war in 1914 due to the quality of writing and clear presentaion of events I was so taken with the subject that I decided that I must follow up with an equaly good history of the conflict itself.
After a lot of research I found almost universal (now known to be well deserved) praise for this book.
This is an excellent book absolutely filled with detailed and informative text that provides an in depth understanding of the world shaping events of 1914 - 1918 as well as an explanation of the subsequent peace aggrement and its effect on Germany.
However reading it has proved to be a difficult labour of love due to the rediculously small font size of print which I can only assume has been chosen to save on paper cost.
What a shame that a masterpiece of modern historical writing should have the reading enjoyment spoilt by a publishers cheap attempt to save pennies.
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