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The First World War: A New History [Paperback]

Hew Strachan
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
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Book Description

13 Feb 2014
A brilliant and penetrating new history of the First World War by one of the world's foremost experts on the conflict. Reissued with a new introduction from the author. Hew Strachan is one of the world's foremost experts on the Great War of 1914-18. His on-going three-volume history of the conflict, the first of which was published in 2001, is likely to become the standard academic reference work: Max Hastings called it 'one of the most impressive books of modern history in a generation', while Richard Holmes hailed it as a 'towering achievement'. Now, Hew Strachan brings his immense knowledge to a one-volume work aimed squarely at the general reader. The inspiration behind the major Channel 4 series of the same name, to which Hew was chief consultant, THE FIRST WORLD WAR is a significant addition to the literature on this subject, taking as it does a uniquely global view of what is often misconceived as a prolonged skirmish on the Western Front. Exploring such theatres as the Balkans, Africa and the Ottoman Empire, Strachan assesses Britain's participation in the light of what became a struggle for the defence of liberalism, and show how the war shaped the 'short' twentieth century that followed it. Accessible, compelling and utterly convincing, this is modern history writing at its finest.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd (13 Feb 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1471134261
  • ISBN-13: 978-1471134265
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,786 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Inside Flap

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.

Building on his ongoing research for his mammoth three-volume history of the war, Hew Strachan now presents a stunning new account of the hostilities which offers many new interpretations of and insights into one of the defining events of the twentieth century. This one-volume history is not just a riveting digest for the general reader of his other writing, it also provides the narrative structure and direction of the accompanying ten-part Channel 4 series. 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.

Strachan argues convincingly that the war had become a 'world war' long before the involvement of the United States and the Russian Revolution of 1917. Far from being a 'European civil war', the conflict involved the colonial territories of European powers, and touched areas as far-flung as the Balkans, Africa and the Ottoman Empire. And it was the existence of these territories that helped explain why the war did not seem futile at the time: for Britain and France, it quickly became a struggle for the defence of liberalism.

Accessible, compelling and utterly convincing, and featuring a wealth of photographs many of which have never previously been published, this is modern history writing at its finest. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Professor Hew Strachan is the Chichele Professor of the History of War at Oxford University, and the author of several highly acclaimed books on military history.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing Comparable 19 Feb 2014
By Dr Barry Clayton TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This excellent one volume by Hew Strachan is a reissue of the book first published in 2003. The author is a renowned professor of war at Oxford University. His book 'To Arms', the first volume of a trilogy yet to be completed, was greeted with aclaim by scholars worldwide. Strachan has also written a number of thought-provoking books on current strategy and the problems that have arisen since 1990.

This work is aimed at the general reader. Unlike a number of others however it is not replete with truisms and cliches. The author is far too good at his craft to do this. It would, for example, be very hard to better the introduction to this book in which he discusses, for example, the importance of the brilliant book by Clausewitz on the philosophy of war and its lessons for today.

One paragraph about the Great War is worth repeating here: 'Moreover, many of the answers we come up with can be as subjective and tendentious as many of the views expressed by the war's eyewitnesses'.If only some writers on the war would heed this, particularly its critics.

Strachan rightly criticises the late Basil Liddell Hart's thesis that blockade and naval power was the cause of Germany's demise, a thesis that the influential historian singularly failed, not for the first time in his many writings, to support with any evidence. The author is also rightly dismissive of the research behind many of the statistics that are regularly trotted out to support biased opinion, for example, the claim that 6 million civilians died as a consequence of the war, and the German claim that 1 million civilians died as a result of the blockade. As Strachan says in a brilliant aside: 'Hindsight's hold on objective truth is a fragile thing'.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant new writing on the Great War 16 Nov 2003
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
So much more than just a 'companion' book to the excellent television series, this is actually a formidable new history of the First World War by one of the world's leading historians on the subject. Hew Strachan shows how the war touched other countries and people while challenging the notion that the loss of life was futile. A constantly stimulating and gripping book, this is a brilliant addition to the many books on the war - as is the other companion title, A War in Words, which brings together some amazing personal stories of the war. Highly recommended!
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous 23 Oct 2003
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
The best book on the First World War I've ever read. It shatters countless cliches and illusions that have become standard views of the War. Strachan is very convincing in telling us that the War was indeed a 'World' war, not just a european one eg. 2 million Africans fought on the Allied side alone in some shape or form. Simply put, this is essential reading for anyone remotely interested in the topic. In fact, for anyone interested in history at all.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Landmark 15 Feb 2004
Format:Hardcover
The literature on the First World War is vast. A lot of books continue to be published every year. Some are potboilers, most are OK, a few are very good. Occasionally, one appears which is special. This is one of those rarities.
Hew Strachan is engaged on a full-scale three volume history of the conflict, the first of which has recently appeared. This companion to a magnificent TV series provides an overview of all three. I would hazard to say that in time the historiography of the First World War will come to be divided into pre- and post-Strachan eras. He has changed everything.
As a writer myself, his achievement fills me with awe. This book distills twenty years of research. Working painstakingly from the ground up, through pulling together neglected or unknown sources, changing emphasis and correcting old assumptions, Strachan has built up a radically new picture. The weaving together of detail and the big picture is masterly. We begin to understand that this was a global conflict, fought over big issues, which had a huge impact on the world we know today.
It is futile to try to summarise it. Revelations come too thick and fast. It will change your view not just of the First World War, but of the history of the C20th. In writing it, Strachan has not just done great honour to his profession, but great service to the general public. It is a massive achievement. Just buy it and read it.
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely a 'New History' 25 Mar 2007
Format:Paperback
This is indeed a `new history'.

For such a short book it's scope is wide and yet not lacking in detail or analysis.

Discharging the `Blame Everyone Equally' popular theory and exposing it as little more than a myth, Strachan puts the blame for the conflict firmly at the feet of the Austro-Hungarians.

The tactical aspects of the conflict are explored with some criticism such as the Schlieffen plan being anything but. However Strachan reminds the reader that those responsible for the (now seemingly mindless) strategies were men of their time, and should be viewed as such, and that many of the belligerents war aims were far from futile.

There is also a considerable portion of this book devoted to the largely ignored African aspect of the war.

Almost as revolutionary a work as A.J.P. Taylor's Origins Of The Second World War (but obviously less contentious).

Minor criticisms of the book are that there is very little on the emergence of air war, and nothing is said of the `Avenger' debacle of the French high command.

Nonetheless a book that every Great War enthusiast should own.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A VERY WELL WRITTEN MILITARY AND POLITICAL HISTORY OF THE FIRST WAR,...
A thorough, non- partisan factual history of the events which led to war and a bird's -eye view of the strategic, tactical and political decisions that shaped the outcome. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Leopold
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
clear history of causes of WW1
Published 11 days ago by Bryant Maitland
3.0 out of 5 stars A historical documentary of WWl.
If you are looking for facts and figures of WWl then this is for you. Very well documented, but at times hard to digest, not what you would describe as bed side reading, more... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Aileen
4.0 out of 5 stars "The First World War"
I found this book easy to read and informative, filling in some gaps that I wasn't aware of. The new foreword was particularly helpful. Read more
Published 1 month ago by PORTER John
5.0 out of 5 stars great read ,cuts to chase
good logical order,just visited battlefeilds and took this with me.

explain ww1 and why started ,but also why ww2 was going to happen!

Hew ww2 next please
Published 2 months ago by martin penman
5.0 out of 5 stars If you only have one book
If you only have one book on the First World War this is the one. It is a relatively modern book which addresses the issues and does not regurgitate the same old myths.
Published 2 months ago by M K PARSONS
5.0 out of 5 stars Authoritative and concise
Truly excellent. This is a short book, given the scale of the subject matter, but clearly a product of vast learning and research. It breathes authority. Read more
Published 3 months ago by M tipping
5.0 out of 5 stars classic
Its like the hard back only now available in paperback. Not before time and a must have for anyone interested in the subject
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Saw series on Tv and wanted more in-depth study. Brought fresh thinking to WW1 history and showed there was ore to it than
trench warfare. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Brian MItchell
5.0 out of 5 stars A must
This book is a must for anybody interested on the 1st World War, It gives you a great perspective on the wrongs & rights before, during and after the war.
Published 3 months ago by growler
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