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The Oxford Illustrated History of the First World War (Oxford Illustrated Histories) Hardcover – 5 Nov 1998


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; 1st Edition edition (5 Nov. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198206143
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198206149
  • Product Dimensions: 24.4 x 2.5 x 17.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 955,561 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

If you buy only one book about the First World War you would be hard-pressed to do better than this one. From the dust jacket reproduction of C.R.W. Nevinson's harrowing painting, French Troops Resting, to the clear, well-presented series of maps at the end, it displays the very highest standards of production. In between the covers it is positively brimming with an extensive selection of photographs, posters and paintings from or about the period. Some are well-known though many are less so and have clearly been rooted out in a thorough and wide-ranging archive search. This alone brings something to the book that few others on the subject can match: the ability to evoke the spirit of the time through the imagery and sights--though thankfully not the sounds and smells--of the period, transporting the mind of reader back in time.

This, however, is only one aspect of the book. The other is a series of 23 authoritative, scholarly essays by renowned historians on various aspects of the war. The subjects are comprehensive in scope, taking in the expected areas such as the origins of the war, the strategies employed by the Central and Entente powers, the war at sea and in the air, and economic warfare. There are also fascinating chapters on Mutinies and Military Morale, Women, War, and Work, The Challenge to Liberalism: The Politics of the Home Fronts and finally a touching and poignant chapter, Memory and the Great War, which examines the haunting legacy of the cataclysm. As the war gradually recedes from living memory this book will surely become a significant part of that legacy for current and future generations--lest they forget. -- Alisdair Bowles

Review

Beyond the generally admirable essays in the Oxford Illustrated History, the book's photographs provide a vivid introduction for anyone who comes fresh to the subject of the First World War. (Max Hastings, Evening Standard (London))

This is a splendid book ... a volume which represents the 'state of the art' of current thinking on the First World War ... Hopefully, this book will serve as a useful corrective to some of the simplistic views all to readily bandied about in popular books and the media. (G. D. Sheffield, Military Illustrated)

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Kosutnjak Park, Belgrade, mid-May 1914: Gavrilo Princip fires his revolver at an oak tree, training for his part in the plot. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By MarkK TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 30 April 2001
Format: Paperback
This book offers a broad view of the First World War, which is both the book's strength and its weakness. The book is a collection of essays addressing various topics and periods in the war, each written by the leading experts in the field. While this generally ensures knowledgable overviews, the lack of continuity of interpretation (so were the Germans suffering from a lack of artillery in 1918 or weren't they?) can be annoying at times. Furthermore, the limitations on the length of the various chapters means that even the most important subject receives only a cursory treatment at best. Overall, it's a good introduction to the war, though one that should be supplemented by additional reading in the bibliographies provided.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mr M.R.Watkinson TOP 500 REVIEWER on 3 Feb. 2014
Format: Paperback
This is not, as one review says, the work of *an* expert, but of many; Hew Strachan is the editor, rather than than the author, and is not even a contributor per se. It may be a little unfair to award an excellent overview of WWI less than 5*, but as another reviewer points out, the fact that it is an overview is a weakness as well as a strength.

The production of the hardback version of this (which is the one I own) is of high quality, which makes the best of the illustrations unlike, for example, the cheap paper used in Random House's Forgotten Voices series. A nice touch is the inclusion of some 2 dozen colour plates. Inevitably, given the lack of colour photography at the time (it was not unknown, but was very much in its infancy at the time), most of these are paintings & posters (4 are modern photographs; 2 of commemorations, one of a genuine Mark V tank; the fourth would appear to be of the only flying original SE5, part of the Shuttleworth Collection). In addition to that, many of the illustrations, both colour & black & white, I have not seen elsewhere. From the point of view of information, it is an excellent overview, on the whole.

Its weaknesses, however, are that, at 350-odd pages it is rather too short, and the "Illustrated" in the title is a bit of a misnomer. Most overview histories of such a large & complex subject run to several hundred pages more than this. It does itself a disservice by trying to compress too much. As for the illustrations, whilst they are reasonably plentiful, I have seen other books with as many that don't call themselves "Illustrated". Therefore, whilst the quality & variety is good, the number perhaps doesn't warrant the claim. Finally, it is worth noting that there seems to be a new edition due out, unsurprisingly, in April 2014, which is a little longer at around 420 pages. I obviously cannot comment on that; for this edition 4* seems, to me, to be a fair review.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER on 23 April 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
This is an updated second edition of the Oxford Illustrated History, and contains 24 survey-style academic essays on various aspects of WW1. Strachan’s introduction is very good at problematising the ways in which the war is still conceived and spoken of (‘global’, ‘total’, ‘modern’), and in thinking through the implications of these categories.

The essays themselves are written by academic historians, leaders in their individual fields, and cover modern thinking on the causes of the war, economic warfare, the various theatres (the Balkans, Africa, war at sea), the role of women, propaganda, revolutions, and peace settlements. The book ends with a survey of how the war has been remembered, and fictionalised, throughout the twentieth century. Each essay is followed by a brief bibliography of further reading.

So this isn’t a book for anyone wanting a personal or dramatic view of the war, but is perfect for undergraduates, or general interested readers, working on any of the aspects of war who need a brief and timely overview of where research is currently.

(This review is from an ARC courtesy of the publisher)
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By michelle on 11 Oct. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very detailed book written by a series of scholars.
Not as easy to read as Catastrophe by Max Hastings but much more depth.
Some very interesting illustrations
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By Amazon Customer on 30 Mar. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a collection of essays, some more useful than others but overall, a good start to researching 1st World war
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By The Claw on 5 Dec. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a series of articles written by recognised academics in the field. It takes a thematic, rather than a chronological, approach to the war. Thorough and well written, it is particularly useful if you are wish to understand the broader issues and themes relating to the war. However, if you want to understand the key battles in detail then you would be better looking at the Osprey "Essential Histories" series.
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