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The First World War, Volume One: To Arms Hardcover – 26 Apr 2001


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 1248 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 4th Impression edition (26 April 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198208774
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198208778
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 6.4 x 15.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 794,942 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Hew Strachan's The First World War Vol I: A Call to Arms counteracts the argument that of the two world wars in the 20th century, it is usually only the second that is thought of as "global"--spanning from the Pacific to Normandy as Hollywood continues to remind us, from the River Plate to Scapa Flow as naval buffs will recall. By contrast the First World War is often assumed to be a European war, literally bogged down in the Somme and the Dardanelles. But as Hew Strachan argues in this magisterial and wide-ranging book we would do better to use the German phrase, "weltkrieg" to describe the conflicts of 1914-18 as well. The Call to Arms is the latest in a long line of Strachan's distinguished and subtle works of military history at its best: his recent The Politics of the British Army is particularly good. A Call to Arms covers the war in every part of the globe--chapters on Turkey, Africa and Japan sit alongside sections devoted to the Western and Eastern fronts. And Strachan shows too that the war was global not just in its geography, but also in its outcome. The entente powers had better access to international finance than their foes; the war accelerated religious and tribal nationalism in the old colonial empires; industrial mobilisation fuelled the growth of heavy industry in 'undeveloped' parts of the world. This is a big book--1,000 pages plus, and it is only the first of three volumes. It needs time and attentive reading to absorb the range of its scholarship and the originality of its arguments. But anyone wanting to understand how and why the First World War, as one French writer put it in 1914, extended "to the whole universe" must read this book.--Miles Taylor

Review

"Definitive", proclaims the blurb accompanying the first volume of Hew Strachan's magnificent new history of the first world war, and definitive it is." -- The Economist, 12/05/01

"Historians of Africa will bless him for writing so comprehensive an account of a war as traumatic for their continent as it was for Europe" -- Michael Howard, Times Literary Supplement

"Incontestably the most important addition to the published work on the war for many years." -- Stand To! The Journal of the Western Front Association

"It is hard to imagine a more definitive survey. ... The First World War grandfather to whom this book is dedicated could not have a more fitting memorial." -- Robert McCrum, Observer

"This book stands in the classic tradition of academic political and military history: an essential work of reference with every page densely packed with facts, figures, and analysis" -- The Sunday Telegraph

"This deserves to rank as one of the most impressive books of modern history in a generation." -- Max Hastings, Evening Standard

"We can be confident that subsequent volumes in Professor Strachan's series will analyse in the same exquisite detail as the first this bruising reality, what Correlli Barnett has called going 'fifteen rounds with a heavyweight" -- Allan Mallinson, The Times, 20 June 2001

"a wonderfully readable and comprehensive new account of the war that was supposed to end all wars, a book that's all the more impressive for the precise and thoughtful way in which it navigates past some notorious historiographical hazards" -- Robert McCrum, Observer

"historians of Africa will bless him for writing so comprehensive an account of a war as traumatic for their continent as it was for Europe" -- Michael Howard, Times Literary Supplement

"this magisterial new history" -- Robert McCrum, Observer

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By J. E. Robinson on 29 Nov. 2004
Format: Paperback
As noted by the author in his introduction, the intent of this first book and the books to follow is to be a replacement or updating of Cruttwell's well known work A History of the Great War published in 1934. The basic idea is to update that work and to include more information and more analysis.
This is the first book as most readers are aware of a multi-volume set, a work in progress, by the author Hew Strachan. He is a well known Oxford professor and prior history author, especially on World War I. This book is not recommended for someone wanting a quick introduction to the war. There are other books that give a combination of picture and text review of the complete war in under 500-700 pages by for example Martin Gilbert and his book The First world War: A Complete History or The First World War by John Keegan. There are others. Also one can read for example just a map and picture books, or pick another short text only overview books, strategy and troop movement books, and there are books that contain different sorts of analysis such as just the financial impact or the politics, or the naval actions, or just one counties activities. The present book attempts to do it all at perhaps at a less detailed level but with a lot of discussion and analysis. I have been researching of the subject if WWI books and put together a brief albeit incomplete and imperfect list of books that give a sampling of what is on the market and in libraries - 25 books Listmania list.
After reading a number of books on WWI, I still like the book The Western Front by Malcolm Brown from the Imperial War Museum of Books series.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By E. Slavitt on 24 Feb. 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book justifies its imposing length both substantively and with great style. The author covers all aspects of this great and puzzling war -- military, political, and economic -- in a comprehensive and readable way. Avoiding an Anglocentric or even Eurocentric point of view, Mr. Strachan well supports his thesis that this war was a global war with global implications. Mr. Strachan demands attention from the reader, but well rewards that attention with a clear exposition that leaves one in awe not only of his scholarship, but his ability to synthesize so many sources. It is clearly worth the investment not only to purchase, but to read closely and enjoy greatly.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Carmen Lastra on 15 Nov. 2001
Format: Hardcover
Impeccably researched and fluently written. Impressive mastery. Deserves to become the standard text on the history of World War I. A splendid work of scholarship, objective in method, sound in judgement. Clear, authoritative and compelling!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By JR999 on 24 April 2001
Format: Hardcover
There are many books covering the topic of the First World War. I have tried using the lasted research techniques to encapsulate not only the political scenes of the time, but also the socio-economic factors. For me this extra background information gave me a real insight into factors that I had not even considered existed. I eagerly await the next two volumes
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bladesman on 22 April 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As everyone will know, when it was published in 2001 this was intended to be the first of a projected three-volume history of WW1. It received glowing reviews, including being described as "definitive". As there is still no sign of the second volume, though, I think that that evaluation might need to be revised. What, presumably, should be the gist of the book - the military history of the war - is only taken up to the end of 1914, at least on the Western and Eastern Fronts. Since its publication there have been books by, among others, David Stevenson, that the general reader will turn to as offering a more comprehensive history of WW1. Strachan's work, though brilliant, remains a work-in-progress.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 18 Jun. 2002
Format: Hardcover
The breadth and depth of Hew Strachan's account of the First World War are amazing. He manages to weave the big picture and the tiny but important details while at the same time maintaining a very readable book. This will become the definitive history of the first years of the First World War; while I am only halfway through this weighty volume, I am already eagerly anticpating volume II.
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By Thomas Naish on 10 Aug. 2014
Format: Paperback
As I write this, August 10 2014, one hundred years ago, British troops were preparing, perhaps starting to embark for France to save 'plucky, little Belgium.' Anyone with even half an interest in history and the modern world generally, knows and maybe understands what happened in the next weeks, months and years. Or, in many cases, think they know and understand.
The First World War is, possibly, the most misunderstood of conflcts. Many of the myths about it, have become so quoted in a plethora of books, that they know seem to have become fact.
I remember Anthony Burgess writing that borrowing Joyce's Ulysses from the library is useless; Ulysses is not a book to be read on the time constraint of a library loan. Strachan's To Arms, comes in the same bracket. This is a book to be savoured, read, re-read, put down, picked up weeks, months or years later, and read, or cherry picked from. But, and this is not a criticism, it is not the book to read if you know nothing or very little about the First World War. To Arms has plenty of facts, names and dates in it, but, not simply laid out in date-line order. No, this is historical writing of the highest order. The facts, names and dates are used to flesh out and give coherence to the argument and perspective of each chapter/essay. Hence, for the beginner, who'll probably want to know what the cause of the war was in date-line terms, or when Mons, First Ypre (you mean there was more than one?) occurred, and why isn't The Somme mentioned, this book is not so helpful. But, for the likes of me, who do know those things, this book is simply superb. He uses dates, names and facts to dig beneath them and show why there are there.
Read this book, or Strachan's New History of the war, written to accompany the superb TV series, and much about this terrible, terrifying, puzzling and confusing conflict will come into focus. To reiterate, this is historical writing of the very highest order.
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