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The Great War: 1914-1918 [Paperback]

Peter Hart
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
RRP: £10.99
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Book Description

6 Feb 2014

The Great War was the first truly global conflict, and it changed the course of world history

In this magnum opus, critically-acclaimed historian Peter Hart examines the conflict in every arena around the world, in a history that combines cutting edge scholarship with vivid and unfamiliar eyewitness accounts, from kings and generals, and ordinary soldiers. He focuses in particular on explaining how technology and tactics developed during the conflict - and determines which battles were crucial to its outcome. Combatants from every corner of Earth joined the fray, but their voices are rarely heard together. This is a major history of the conflict whose centenary is fast approaching.

Published in paperback for the anniversary of the conflict, this is a pioneering and comprehensive account of the First World War, comparable to Anthony Beevor or Max Hastings.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books (6 Feb 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846682479
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846682476
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 25,118 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Immensely readable ... Hart excels not only at making it intelligible but also at turning it into a gripping narrative, which includes extensive and moving quotations from soldiers and sailors who bore the consequences of their commanders' decisions and faced the realities of combat ... Hart's book will contribute to a sea change in our understanding of the war during the years of the centenary (Irish Times)

Gripping ... I would highly recommend this book, not only for the honest appraisal of all the main characters and countries involved, but because it gives a voice to those who paid the ultimate price, often for no purpose whatsoever (Morning Star)

A valuable, timely and highly readable overview of the Great War on all major fronts (Professor Peter Simkins)

Thought provoking, erudite, yet eminently readable and entertaining: Peter Hart is a historian and author at the peak of his powers (Richard Van Emden)

Riveting...bold enough to bring a new clarity to a subject that has been obscured by a creeping barrage of re-interpretations over the years (Catholic Herald)

Very impressive (Military History Magazine)

The sheer level of detail Hart presents is astonishing...fascinating (Press Association)

A refreshing and engaging read (Soldier Magazine)

Gripping...I would highly recommend this book, not only for the honest appraisal of all the main characters and countries involved, but because it gives a voice to those who paid the ultimate price, often for no purpose whatsoever (Morning Star)

Book Description

A masterful history of the First World War, covering all areas and explaining the technology and tactics that determined its course: now in paperback for the centenary

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
With the Centenary of the Great War fast approaching, together with the inevitable avalanche of books that will accompany it over the next six years, the challenge for the student of this conflict will be to sift out the books that add to the body of knowledge & steer clear of those that regurgitate old, sometimes out of date or discredited views. This is particularly relevant when it comes to looking at single volume histories of the war - with the aim of these books being the concise explanation of the key issues and events in such a way as to engage and inform the reader.

Peter Hart's "The Great War: 1914-1918", published by Profile Books in April 2013 is the latest entry to the field and comes at a particularly timely moment.

Hart is well known not only through the numerous books he has already written on the conflict but also in his role as Oral Historian of the Imperial War Museum - and it is this latter experience that enables him to add a level of personal connection with the combatants through their reminiscences and thereby bring a new perspective to global events.

While the actual sequence of events that lead to war are still the subject of debate, the case is clear in this book for the inevitability of war in August 1914 after decades of inconclusive conflicts and unresolved geopolitical ambitions. With none of the participants prepared to accept a reduction in their national "economic, political, military and imperial ambitions", the slide towards war was unavoidable.
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79 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining narrative of world conflict 2 April 2013
By Chris Baker VINE VOICE
I suppose we could call this the first single-volume post-revisionist history of the First World War. Its author Peter Hart will be known to many readers thanks to his many previous and well-received works on the subject, most notably recently on "Gallipoli" and "1918: A very British victory". Attendees at Western Front Association and Great War Forum conferences will also know him as an entertaining, knowledgeable speaker who is not afraid to voice his opinions. In the main, these opinions hark back to the way the men of 1914-1918 saw the war - necessary, hard fought, bloody, wasteful and with respect for their leadership - rather than that of the revisionist school - of blunder, of lions led by donkeys and of futility - which later emerged and has become so entrenched. In "The Great War", Hart takes on the ambitious task of narrating the whole war from his viewpoint and succeeds in producing an engaging and pacy work that is enjoyable to read and may open many eyes to the realities of the conflict.

It is good to see (and given Hart's previous work, perhaps unsurprising) that the war beyond the Western Front receives fine coverage. The military operations in the key theatres of war are explained, for as the author says you cannot understand the Western Front without understanding the Eastern, and so on, although almost inevitably it is France and Flanders which receives most attention. Gallipoli, Salonika, Palestine, the 'white war' in Italy and the war at sea all come into scope and it is really only the fighting in Africa which is an engagement of any scale that is absent.

The writing is fluent and clear, and not academic in style although the research is clearly thorough and based on a wide range of sources.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Great War - An Outstanding Account 7 April 2013
Peter Hart's reputation for writing incisive histories of the events of 1914-1918 is very well founded. His histories of the Somme, Gallipoli & the 1918 campaigns (amongst others) are some of the very best of their kind. And now, in this, his latest and most ambitious work, he applies his by now familiar approach to telling the story of the whole conflict.

But, if anything, in this work I detect an even stronger and increasingly confident narrative theme to his description of events. As "the master of popular history" (an oddly pejorative term in the hands of some), the author brings together the voices of senior commanders and political leaders through to the ordinary private soldier to give an overview of events throughout the course of the war.

What no-one will be left in any doubt about is that `popular' (that word again) versions of how the Great War was conducted are often completely wrong-headed. The significance of side-shows in romantic locations is often exaggerated but accompanied by a disastrous underestimation of Allied opponents, particularly of the Ottoman Turks, that made them feasible in the minds of ill-informed opportunist politicians in the first place.

Ironically, as irrelevant to final victory over Imperial Germany defeating the likes of Bulgaria truly was, these campaigns are rarely described as futile - the very word that defines many perceptions of where the war was truly fought, won and lost: on the Western Front. And no-one reading this work be left in any doubt about that.

The evolution of strategy and tactics is outlined clearly and succinctly; indeed, rarely can a work approaching 500 pages have been as fast-paced as this excellent work. It remains, though, a human document and the cost of war is never lost on the reader.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great book, well worth reading
Published 3 days ago by arty
4.0 out of 5 stars money well spent
I very much like the clear, focused style of this. It seems well organised and objective. The written records and anecdotes of participants on both sides give it just the right... Read more
Published 24 days ago by jonathan williams
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by martin buckingham
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding description of why and how this war was fought.
I greatly appreciated the analysis of why the generals acted as they did - an appalling learning process. I also appreciated the accounts written by the men doing the fighting.
Published 1 month ago by Michael Sykes
5.0 out of 5 stars Explains the intricacies of trench warfare
Fascinating insight into the progress of the war, especially how tactics and technology evolved rapidly during its course. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Anchises
5.0 out of 5 stars An compelling read
A well written account that kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. Extremely well researched and punctuated with moving accounts from generals, officers and privates... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Duncan P Goodwin
4.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant, readable intro to WWI
A fascinating insight to a complex and highly immotive subject in the 20th century. Written in a style that is easy to comprehend and put into its true context. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A lot less donkeys
A fine accompanying read for our recent family visit to the ww1 graves in France to pay our respects to fallen relatives. Read more
Published 5 months ago by wookie242
5.0 out of 5 stars Superbly written but desperately in need of more maps
A truly superb account of the Great War. The development of new technologies and the way tactics changed to take advantage of, or overcome them, as the war progressed is... Read more
Published 6 months ago by MR ELLIOTT P SMITHSON
4.0 out of 5 stars Good military history of the First World War
This is a well-written narrative, offering a military history of the First World War. It covers the key developments, incorporates testimonials from participants which add to the... Read more
Published 6 months ago by F Henwood
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