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The Great War: 1914-1918 Paperback – 6 Feb 2014

4.8 out of 5 stars 50 customer reviews

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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 3.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 169,597 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

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

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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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