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The First World War - The Complete Series [DVD]
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The First World War is the definitive documentary series about the global conflict which shaped the 20th century. Based on the book by Hew Strachan and narrated by Jonathan Lewis, the series covers all aspects of the war. The popular view of the First World War is dominated by cliché. Young British soldiers, many of them budding poets, were led to early and ghastly deaths in muddy wastes by incompetent generals for reasons that were seemingly futile. And although clichés are not necessarily lies, they are at best a selective view of the truth. This is a stunning account of the hostilities which offers new interpretations of and insights into one of the defining events of the twentieth century. And, for the first time, it offers a truly global vision of a conflict which is often misconceived as a prolonged skirmish on the Western Front. Accessible, compelling and utterly convincing, this is modern history revealed at its finest.
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Top Customer Reviews
The series will be useful to anyone interested in British and/or military history. A very good aid for the pupil at school learning about the Great War just as for the graduate.
They give a great introduction to the First World War and with only ten episodes you can't expect more. Another reader here compares it to BBCs Great War of the 1960s, and of course that series was more detailed because it was a seventeen and half hours epic!
The big advantage of the present series is that it has a modern touch showing the places as of today and very good maps, which are normally lacking in DVDs on the First and Second World Wars.
Strachans also brings home that the First World War was a true world war by describing and analysing the events outside of the Europe and the Western Front. I agree although with the other reviewers that he should have put a little more emphasis on the main events on the main theatres of war than he did.
But the only thing I really wonder about is when the two other volumes are coming in his three part book series on OUP. The account is very good although the maps are awful. They only show you the places, and not the fronts or the armies. That is hopefully gonna change in the upcoming volumes.
The series is to be praised for bringing to light formerly obscure aspects of the war such as the Ottoman struggle against the Russians which is usually ignored because it was not really strategically significant as was the conflict between the Ottomans and the British in the south. The Armenian tragedy is discussed at some length showing that Turkish atrocities against Armenian civilians was a consequence of military operations in the war and not merely a mindless ethnic persecution. The untenable situation of the Jews in Eastern Europe who were caught between the three different empires which led to expulsion, impoverishment and pogroms is discussed at length showing that these roots in the First World War were merely the prelude to even worse to come.
The most significant novelty of this series is that they go to great lengths to show that the view that the war was not merely a "senseless slaughter" and that the Generals were NOT all a bunch of stupid, arrogant men indifferent to the welfare and fate of their men. The film points out that dozens of Generals on both sides were killed in the war sharing the fate of the men at the front line, so it is wrong to picture them all as aloof people who spent their time at a chateau behind the lines.Read more ›
In contrast in this DVD little known actions are covered in a disproportional amount of detail. No other video covers aspects such as the campaign in the ex-German colonies such as German East Africa [now Tanzania] & German South West Africa [now known as Namibia]. The German attempts to incite the Islamic world into anti British & Russian actions are also covered quite comprehensively.
Even though the aforementioned aspects are treated at the expense of more important parts of the war, it does add a new dimension to a war which otherwise comprised an unremitting series of artillery bombardments, machine guns scything down lines of soldiers "going over the top" & battles which are similar to one another & which in the facetious words of Rowan Atkinson a la Black Adder merely resulted in General Haig's drink's table moving one yard nearer to Berlin.
The style is a balance between three presentation styles. The backbone are videos many of them new to this reviewer. These are interwoven with extracts of diaries from eye witnesses. This provides a sense of immediacy.Read more ›