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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterful Analysis.
For those who are familiar with 1914-1918: The History of the First World WarStevenson's book on the last year of the First World War is another example of this historian's scholarship and research. The subject-matter had been well-trawled by almost every writer on this period. But what sets this book apart is the treatment that he gives to other aspects of the war such...
Published on 22 Aug 2011 by Lee

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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great book----for two thirds!
With Our Backs to the Wall is a profound and scholarly study of the final throes of WW1. Researched in depth with a myriad of statistics, it's of a different genre to a good number of recent books on the last year of the Great War. The first 60% of the book is absorbing and very well-written. It provides great detail about the ebb and flow of the last great German...
Published 18 months ago by Doctor Pangloss


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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterful Analysis., 22 Aug 2011
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Lee (EYE, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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For those who are familiar with 1914-1918: The History of the First World WarStevenson's book on the last year of the First World War is another example of this historian's scholarship and research. The subject-matter had been well-trawled by almost every writer on this period. But what sets this book apart is the treatment that he gives to other aspects of the war such as the economy,the home fronts and the human factor which underpin the war. This is not another re-hash of the well-worn battles; this is a sensitive and scholarly analysis of the subject and wins a deserving place in the historiography of the First World War. 1918 was certainly a turning-point in the history of the world, and Stevenson explains why.
Excellent.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An All-Encompassing Perspective., 26 Dec 2011
After reading many books on the Great War it is not often that a volume such as this appears which is so thought-provoking and informative. 1918 is still, in many ways, the poor relation in terms of First World War literature but David Stevenson has written a stunning account relating not only the military history of the final year of the conflict, but describing how this was inevitably linked to the total war which matched economy against economy. I could almost hear the creaking as countries strained to overcome their opponents. Not only this, but the political manoeuvring behind the scenes aimed, not only at undermining enemy regimes, but also in promoting national interests with a view to the post-war world, is spelled out clearly. The internal stresses between the Central Powers has been mentioned by other authors before but those relating to the Allies are here given an emphasis which is particularly enlightening. Tremendous.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Logistics, 17 Jun 2011
This book has changed my perspective of the First Worl War.
It brought home to me the enormous scale of logistical problems. The movements of divisions by sea, by rail, the importance of rivers and canals and the part played by tanks and aircraft, much greater thaan I had imagined.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb account, 13 April 2012
This book is beyond doubt the most detailed Great War work that I have ever read.
It covers every conceivable aspect of the war in 1918 from the point of view of each of the belligerents. A very academic work that shows the immense amount of research and hard work that must have gone into producing what I believe will be essential reading for serious students of the war.
This is not the easiest of books to read, however it will certainly be one that I will dip into again and again.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new history of the last year of the Great War, 7 July 2011
This book has joined my small library of books on the Great War.

There are some military accounts - particularly the more recent revisionist histories that emphasise the difficulties that the generals faced in commanding and winning battles, and their flexibility in adopting new solutions.

This book is different.

The first third gives an overview of the fighting during 1918.

The rest of the book analyses the technical, economic and political background that stood behind the military effort.

Highly recommended for this detailed analysis.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Warts and all...No stone left unturned etc...stunning., 20 Jan 2014
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This review is from: With Our Backs to the Wall: Victory and Defeat in 1918 (Paperback)
As the title of my review suggests, after reading this book I came away with the belief that there was nothing left to know about how, why and where the Great War ended. I've read altogether well over 50 books on the subject and my facination never falters. While I would recommend a whole host of other authors, from Gary Sheffield, Prior & Wilson, John Terraine, for me the man of the moment on this subject has to be David Stevenson. His grasp of the vastness of the subject has been shown previously in his broader 1914-1918 book, but this really nails down to the detail and full analysis that seems to lack in most other books on the closing stages of the war.
Stevenson covers the actual military aspect rather quickly than most would like but really this is because Germany was only defeated militarilly when all of the other facets that enable nations to survive such a calamity are met and overcome, and sometimes then it is still not clear such as it was in 1918.
For me this is why 1918 is far more interesting than 1945, because of this historical ambiguity and the relative swiftness of the ending after 4 years of stalemate.
Stevenson explains piece by piece how the war affected the social, political, economic, logistical, tactical & technological developments of each warring nation, and right across to the Balkans and also Turkey whose involvement you are able to see in the complete picture of events as they unfold. Some of the details on shipping etc are quite dry to read but its not long before you are brought back to the mayhem of the front line to put it all in context.
This is a must for students and those interested in the subject that want to know detail, its so much more than military history, it should be seen as a bookend on the 1914-1918 conflict to sit there with Tuchman's 'Guns of August' at the other end. Although totally different in their format, they are the best on the years that they cover for different reasons.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, 26 Sep 2011
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Sheds new light to the causes of the defeat of Germany in 17-18. It actually does a pretty good job in getting rid of the mith of the undefeated German army and the stab in the back theory that Hitler used over and over on his way to WWII.Very detailed and well researched...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Insightful and unique view, 25 Feb 2014
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I'm an historian by education and interest, so I've read a lot on the Great War and its origins. The victory of the Allies is usually portrayed in military terms, primarily as a combination of German weakness, American potential and the French/British learning new military skills - Gary Sheffield in particular rewrites the accepted version of British generals as blinkered incompetents. However, this book really introduced me to a new view of how victory was (a) as much about logistics as anything and (b) how close all combatants were to complete exhaustion. I was once told by my first History lecturer that the key difference between the First and Second World Wars was that in the First, the outcome was uncertain until late 1918 whereas in the Second, it was pretty clear from mid 1942 and Stevenson's portrayal of the economics and logistics reinforces this point. In fact, he devotes relatively little space to the military aspects.

I also learnt some interesting and surprising facts along the way eg Austria-Hungary wasn't really involved militarily in any significant way after mid-1917, except on the relatively quiet Italian front - such that their military expenditure fell significantly from 1916 to 1918. They were brought down by their food distribution network rather than military defeat per se.

This is a scholarly book for people who have an interest in the subject - perhaps a little dry if this is a starting point but well worth the effort.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding work about the last year of WWI, 5 April 2013
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At the end of 1917 France and Great Britain were facing a strategical nightmare: their several offensives on the Western Front on 1916-1917 had been just a continuous series of crushing defeats; Russia was out of the war because of the October's Revolution; Italy's Army had just been routed with the loss of her North-eastern provinces; US Army arrival , on the Western Front, was scheduled to be on Spring-Summer 1918, and however it was an untried army for this kind of war.
The author tells you the history of this last year of war that could have bring the victory to the Central Empires and instead, it brought to them a total defeat..
This book take care to talk to you about all the aspects of this war , including the war at sea and its effects on the home fronts.
A wonderful book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful and coherent analysis, 4 Feb 2013
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This review is from: With Our Backs to the Wall: Victory and Defeat in 1918 (Paperback)
This is a really well put together account account. Having just fiished it I re-read the first and last chapters again, as these can stand alone. The way the that alternatives to the actual ending could have occured, and the ineveitability of the Second World War as a consequence of the ending of the first makes this more than just a standard account.

I would encourage anybody to read it not only if they are interested in the period, but also if they are interested in how to write history.
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With Our Backs to the Wall: Victory and Defeat in 1918
With Our Backs to the Wall: Victory and Defeat in 1918 by David Stevenson (Paperback - 31 May 2012)
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