- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK; Reissue edition (13 Feb. 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1471134261
- ISBN-13: 978-1471134265
- Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.7 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 56,964 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The First World War: A New History Paperback – 13 Feb 2014
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More About the Author
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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Top Customer Reviews
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'.Read more ›
This is not how people saw things at the time. Letters revealed that many soldiers though that they fought for a good cause - that went for all sides. Seventy-Eight British generals were killed in action - and 71 German and 55 French generals likewise died in action - not exactly the picture you get from watching Stephen Fry in Blackadder, is it? The ANZAC soldiers at Gallipoli were not rugged Digger types but urban dwellers and they felt they were fighting for the old country - again, not the impression you get watching Mel Gibson in the film, Gallipoli. Wilfred Owen does not get a look in in this book - presumably out of no disrespect for his literary talents but because his view on the war was not representative. We can of course debate its point and whether it was worth it - just so long as we don't assume we are speaking for the war's participants when we do, and be aware of our own conflicted judgements when we speak of the war.Read more ›
It turns out there is a TV series accompanying this book, which I didn't know until I reached the end. I had the impression while reading it that someone had put a gun to Hew Strachan's head and said something like, "Forget the legions of academic essays and lectures you've done up till now give us the First World War in 300 pages or less." That person, it seems, was Alan Clements, who is mentioned in the acknowledgements.
Every sentence has a point. The writing is amazingly lucid and easy to follow. There are revelations on every page and the overall effect is stunning. The book completely overturns popular conceptions of the first world war that have filtered down through films, novels, poetry and the general media. It is informative, logical, comprehensive and concise. You can feel the author's passion for his subject on every page but his presentation is very low-key.
I really can't praise this book enough. One of the remarkable things is how the author combines his insights into tactical military problems with analysis of wider economic and political pressures, so that you understand in a completely new way why events unfolded as they did.
There is only so much you can do in 350 pages (including notes, maps, illustrations and acknowledgements!) but his canvas is huge. It is typical of his approach that his description of the battles of Verdun and the Somme are a brief section in a more wide-ranging chapter.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Brilliant. I wanted to understand the First World War from a political perspective without the emotional noise of patriotism or through the lens of the great war poets. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Wahalla
Solid history and for me a good reminder but very little new or insightful.Published 2 months ago by Patrick McParland
An excellent WW1 overview. The author suggests that the much vaunted evacuation story was to some extent told to salvage the reputation of the Allies. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Roddy Bailey
A very interesting and informative narrative that explains the background politics more than a blow by blow account of military actions. It also exploded a few myths. Read morePublished 9 months ago by sctrainer