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The World Crisis 1911-1918 (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 3 May 2007


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Product details

  • Paperback: 880 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (3 May 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141442050
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141442051
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 71,052 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Winston S. Churchill (1874-1965) was prime minister of Great Britain from 1940 to 1945 and from 1951 to 1955. A prolific writer, whose works include The Second World War and A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Churchill was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953.

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First Sentence
It was the custom in the palmy days of Queen Victoria for statesmen to expatiate upon the glories of the British Empire, and to rejoice in that protecting Providence which had preserved us through so many dangers and brought us at length into a secure and prosperous age. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Neil Carmichael on 9 Nov. 2008
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There are two different expectations from history books: a stand-back dispassionate analysis from an academic, or a personal account from someone deeply involved. This is the latter. Yes, it is subjective and self justifying. On the other hand it is passionate and personal. The book is as interesting for the light it sheds on its author, as for the analysis of the events. But even on this second aspect it is outstanding. No other account I know of gives such an insight into the roles of the peripheral players in this epoch-changing conflict. Churchill shows the sweep of his understanding of the history and aspirations of the smaller yet crucial countries of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the importance of the Ottomans. Not simply a catalogue of campaigns and casualties; this is the only book on this subject that has given me a real perspective on the ebb and swell of the various phases of this awful struggle.
He, naturally, spends much effort to defend the wisdom of the idea behind the Dardanelles campaign, while denouncing its excecution. The failure of this campaign cost Churchill his job and his reputation; a blow from which a lesser man would never have recovered.
The book is scholarly without being dry. The language is stirring and moving yet avoids obvious clichés. An obligatory read for anyone interested in the war which gave us the Europe we know today.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By J. F. Pye on 22 Jun. 2010
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This is an abbreviated version of a multi-volume work. The book dealing with the east european theatres of war has been dropped. We are left with the core work, and the result is very readable. Highly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By james seeley on 28 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback
The abridged, one-volume, small-print, paperback condensation is in my opinion a net loss over the original 1920s memoirs. The maps and charts are less informative, for one thing.
As 1st Lord of the Admiralty, a (temporary) officer at a Western Front battalion HQ, then Minister of Munitions, Churchill's account is a must. He was there, he made key decisions and then took the blame for them, he was closely involved with Fisher, Lloyd George, Geddes and the rest. We get his opinions and personality coming through as well as well-chosen and well-presented facts and figures. Above all he is a good read: you don't always realise this till you try flatter, more detached, and less colourful accounts such as Marder's.
The Penguin Classic gives us about two-thirds of this, but I prefer the originals, even if they take up more shelf space.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By C. J. Tyler VINE VOICE on 9 May 2010
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If only all history books were written by Churchill. This is great writing with a strong focus on naval matters, which I had not expected. Also not previously clear to me that this is not the complete work. The Martin Gilbert introduction is not particularly useful. Worth it for the writing alone - compulsive and entertaining.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Mann VINE VOICE on 4 May 2013
Format: Paperback
I found this book immensely enlightening on getting an understanding of WW1.

Churchill was not only in the middle of government during the war, often he was in the middle of the war itself - being involved in the fighting early on, and regularly going back to the front line to find out what was happening and talking directly with the commanders involved.

The points he makes about Hague for example are very telling. I looked at a recent book about Hague and was astonished to find Churchill hardly mentioned in the index. I then looked at a few incidents I had read from Churchill in this book about Hague and found the Hague book was telling something quite at odds with Churchill's account.

Here are a few things I learned from the book.

The idea that any of the battles were "wars of attrition" in the sense of wearing down the other side is nonsense. Churchill clearly demonstrates both sides had more than enough new recruits each year to make up for the losses being suffered - in theory they could have gone on pretty much indefinitely, even at the rate of killing that was going on, typically each side could provide around a million new recruits each year anyway, so provided less than that were being killed each year, the war would carry on.

The way to win in modern warfare - Churchill argues compellingly - is to bring in sufficient numbers in a sufficiently short period of time - to overwhelm the enemy and bring swift defeat. Anything that takes time can quickly be responded to with additional troops, so numbers, surprise and swiftness are key. This it seems is something close to what the Nazis did with their blitzkrieg strategy in WW2.

Tanks could have been the key to an early British victory.
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Format: Paperback
Vol 1. This is the first vol of a 2 vol set with a new preface and a revision written in 1938, the first version in 4 vols dating from 1923. It is an account of those times by someone at the top of the political tree, first Lord of the Admiralty for about 5 years, before and during the war. That he is also a historian and a master of accessible style are also important. But what matters most is the originality of the mind itself: its energy, initiative and all round intellectual grasp. He sets out principles for the tasks he does, as natural as breathing to him.
There is, for example, a passage on battleship design, CH VI, especially, on what counts most. This is clear, economical and brilliant, yet I expect that very few military men, nowadays, will have read it. You know that no one before has ever thought it out like this: hence the confusion beforehand: the ships that did not quite fit the bill. What does matter in 1911? The range of the guns, that most of all, closely followed by the weight of shot; and the speed of the ship and its armour. So we learn that a 14inch gun throws a shell of about a ton 35,000 yards, ie about 20miles. But Winston wants all the factors maximised and gets a ship (The Queen Elizabeth Class) with 8 x15inch guns firing a broadside of 8 tons of high explosive which can sail at above 25knots and have 13 inches of armour. What an improvement on what had gone before! Why these factors are so important is explained clearly. But it is not merely an intellectual exercise. Winston fought for the money to build these great ships and got the job done, against all sorts of machinations and envy and downright rottenness. Von Tirpiz reported that these fired shells more than twice as heavy as the Germans ships. No detail was outside his competence.
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