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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly readable but flawed
The great merits of this book are that it is eminently readable, short (2 sessions at most) and very thought-provoking. Stone's key trigger event for the outbreak of war (the Italian annexation of Libya in 1912 leading the Balkan states to think that they too could throw off Ottoman rule, which in turn led to a stronger Serbia clashing with Austria-Hungary) had never...
Published on 23 April 2008 by Anorak44

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars World War One A Brief History
The best thing that can be said of Norman Stone's history of World War One is that it is very short. It covers the causes of the war and each year of the war in one chapter each. When you compare this to other one volume histories of the Great War with their tiny ant like print this is a definite advantage.

Unfortunately though rather than doing his best to...
Published on 18 Nov 2012 by Neil Lennon


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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly readable but flawed, 23 April 2008
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The great merits of this book are that it is eminently readable, short (2 sessions at most) and very thought-provoking. Stone's key trigger event for the outbreak of war (the Italian annexation of Libya in 1912 leading the Balkan states to think that they too could throw off Ottoman rule, which in turn led to a stronger Serbia clashing with Austria-Hungary) had never occurred to me before. And Stone's one 'what if' moment in WW1 is not on the Western or Eastern front but on the Italian front.

But this book has flaws. There remain irritating inaccuracies (eg he refers to the infamous Zimmerman telegram inviting the Mexicans to involve 'the Mikado of Japan' in their anti-US alliance - this is not a term generally used by any reputable academic to describe the Japanese emperor). But the biggest and most jaw-dropping failure of this book is the way it glosses over the murder of over half a million - and possibly as many as a million - Armenians in 1915. Stone has always been an apologist for Turkey, which is of course where he lives part of the time, but to describe the Armenian 'genocide' (I use this word advisedly) as a "few massacres of deportees" (my paraphrase of his position) without giving any degree of the scale of the atrocity is shocking in my view.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars World War One A Brief History, 18 Nov 2012
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This review is from: World War One: A Short History (Paperback)
The best thing that can be said of Norman Stone's history of World War One is that it is very short. It covers the causes of the war and each year of the war in one chapter each. When you compare this to other one volume histories of the Great War with their tiny ant like print this is a definite advantage.

Unfortunately though rather than doing his best to just summarise the events that took place Norman Stone still tries to put forward his views and his interpretations of these events. The result reads like a series of history essays arguing a particular individuals point of view.

This is not helped by Norman Stones writing style which I have seen criticised in other reviews. He tends to let sentences ramble on until they become somewhat muddled. I found myself often having to reread some sentences, trying to break them down into the component parts. Thankfully as this is a short book I was willing to persevere but I would be reluctant to buy anything longer written by the same author.

Despite its short length I would not reccomend this book to anyone new to the subject of World War One due to the points I've mentioned. However, if you are already familiar with the subject it does provide some interesting arguements and a useful refresher of the major events of the war. I'm still waiting for a really good one volume history of the Great War to be written.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly enjoyable short introduction to a massive subject, 17 Aug 2013
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Sebastian Palmer "sebuteo" (Cambridge, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: World War One: A Short History (Paperback)
This is the first history book I've read devoted solely to the First World War. And it's also my first book written by Stone. As such I know neither the subject nor author well enough to say too much about either.

What I can say is that the author's writng style is, I find, wonderfully readable, and that's such a fundamental necessity it is worth noting. Many very worthy history books are such hard work to simply read! Stone has on his side both brevity and even some degree of levity, another welcome quality when reading about a subject whose horror needs to be acknowledged, and where mordant wit can sometimes make this easier.

In formal terms, what the book comprises is a little over 150 pages of text, broken into seven chapters: one called Outbreak; one each for the five years of conflict, from 1914 to 1918; and finally Aftermath. Having only just finished Paul Overy's enormous The Bombing War: Europe 1939-1945 this was a welcome change of pace and scale!

I note that a number of reviewers are quite critical of Stone for various reasons. I did detect some undertones that lead me to believe I might not share his perspective on all matters, but I nonetheless found the book fascinating and stimulating. And as a point of entry to this large subject, whilst I recognise it's neither definitive nor the last word, I found it both informative and very enjoyable to read.

My version of this is a rather handsome Penguin/Allen Lane hardback, and has several interesting pictures spread throughout (as endpapers and before each chapter), and a decent section of useful maps. This won't be my last book on the subject, but as my first I found it very satisfying, and would definitely recommend it. I believe he has a similar slim volume on WWII. I'll definitely be reading that as well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brief, comprehensive history of WW1 - how to write history, 1 Mar 2013
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Jl Adcock "John Adcock" (Ashtead UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: World War One: A Short History (Paperback)
Norman Stone's history of WW1 is a deceptive little book. It's remarkably short (154 pages in hardback if you exclude maps, references and index), but it says an awful lot. Don't let the size of the book alone persuade you that it doesn't tell you much about the conflct.

Stone's narrative impressively takes in a wealth of factors that played out during 1914-18: he covers the build up to war, the military and strategic events that played out in Europe and beyond, the economic and financial concerns, the technological impact, and the final, cataclysmic events that set in chain the Russian revolution, the end of the war, and the bad peace that teed up a second conflct only twenty years later.

The material and analysis is actually huge in a book this small, and other historians would be advised to adopt some of this minimalism in their own writing. History written like this is interesting, informative and thought-provoking. Stone skilfully weaves the story of this terrible conflict into the wider historical canvas, drawing on events that shaped the war breaking out in the first place, and how what happened pretty much made 1939 all the more inevitable in the longer term. Another plus point, Stone doens't take a partisan view of things by looking at the events only from a Western - or essentially British - perspective.

More than a primer on the subject, or a slim addition to the canon. This should be on the syllabus for the study of history, not just because of the detail and intelligence of the content, but because it also teaches us how to interpret history, and how to write about it, skills sadly lacking in how history is taught in our schools today, and how it is often presented on television.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great introduction to the Great War, 16 Nov 2010
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Mr. Craig Henderson (North East, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: World War One: A Short History (Paperback)
This is a very good book by Professor Norman Stone about the Great War. The book gives you a good overview of the catastrophic events which took place between 1914-1918. Stone is a controversial historian, with a range of pithy opinions, but he writes beautiful prose which is well worth reading. Stone reveals key information about important turning points on the Western Front and Eastern Front throughout the war. The book would be very beneficial to A'Level History students studying the Great War, first year undergraduates or anyone who has a passing interest in this horrific and terrible conflict. This is a fresh overview of the Great War, with a range of funny and controversial opinions from Stone and a sweeping analysis of how and why the Germans went from a strong position at the beginning of the war to signing the armistice in November 1918. It also has good information about the collapse of the Russian army on the Eastern Front and the role the Turks played in the Great War. Norman Stone writes with passion, verve and wit on this tragic subject. Terrific stuff. 5 stars
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19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Distilled Water From A Stone, 21 Oct 2007
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Charles Vasey (London, England) - See all my reviews
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Norman Stone is a bit of an academic rascal given to tweaking noses and thumbing his own so it is pretty much guaranteed that much of what he says in this highly readable book will annoy somebody somewhere. I remember A J P Taylor putting my great-uncle in a dreadful bate in much the same way. This is a short history but it is not a standard history. The first precludes any explanation of deviation from the second. If you want to know what others think then you will have to read their books too.

Because Stone's knowledge is considerable he can distill and analyse in ways denied to lesser historians. Working at this level, far above the detail he works without a safety net. I imagine entertaining counter-blasts are currently being prepared in the sacred groves of Academe.

As a lay reader the whole book was great fun, its brevity permitted it to make interesting comparisons that are missed out in the richness of (say) Strachan. I would recommend it to all who enjoy entertaining history in the manner of a tutorial, but perhaps not to those who prefer detailed history in the form of a thesis.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Clever and Perceptive, 29 April 2014
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This review is from: World War One: A Short History (Paperback)
A short history of the war with many fresh insights and not as provocative as Taylor. A good read, not always easy but an intelligent book,
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5.0 out of 5 stars WW 1 books, 19 Feb 2014
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If you want to get the info on this war and you don't want to read many different books this is the one for you.
The only thing I find with history books and this applies to a lot of factual books on wars is there are not enough maps.
However a good read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very readable., 8 Feb 2014
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An interesting and accessible read. Illuminating and timely (centenary coming up). I would certainly recommend this to anyone wanting a clear overview.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good read, 26 Nov 2013
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This is a very good introduction to the Great War

Had been on the battlefield tours and found this very interesting
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World War One: A Short History
World War One: A Short History by Norman Stone (Paperback - 27 Mar 2008)
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