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
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