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1914-1918: The History of the First World War
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 16 September 2012
This is obviously a comprehensive history on WW1 and the way it presents the history (as a meta analysis as another reviewer put it) does really help in understanding the complete history and context of the war. So all the information and detail you could want is included in the book. But, and this is a big but, its a very dry and really not a very enjoyable read.

I'm the kind of person that likes to finish a book but this one nearly got me. I read several others before finally coming back to this one and finishing it off. I had to adopt some "speed reading" approaches of basically skimming details and text because it was just too dry otherwise. In the end I feel that I certainly leant a lot and my knowledge and understanding of WW1 has improved greatly but I really didn't enjoy reading this book.

I think its down to both the style of writing and depth of the subject in what is relatively a short book (601 pages excluding refs and end notes). Its just too dense to make an easy read and the authors style and content don't allow for any personal stories or flowing narrative to come through.

If you really want to learn about WW1 then this is a good book (on increased knowledge grounds I'd give it 5 stars) but for easy of reading it really is only a 1 or 2 star affair. Overall somewhere in the middle, hence my rating.
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on 8 September 2014
Very authoritative and complete, but a *very* hard read. Long complex and convoluted events explained in a long complex and convoluted manner. In the early chapters I had to re-read sentences 5 times. In the end I struggled through and finished it and felt I had definitely learned a lot about WW1 and in that respect give it a 3* rating. I actually found the subject-organised chapters good, to aid analysis of the events (like - how come people [initially] supported the war?). Purely-chronological doesn't always tell you what's behind the events. But given a fresh start, I think I'd try and find a different book
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
One of the most detailed books about the war which should be required reading for all politicians. It goes a long way to explain, what on first appearances seems unexplainable
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 23 January 2014
Very good read covering the First World War from start to end. If you would like to know the history of the Great War then this book will give you that.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 17 August 2013
Extremely good single volume read on World War One. Not an "easy" read...but certainly well worth while and very rewarding.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 14 February 2013
great content but very small print! I purchased this for a military history course and it has been very useful.
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on 24 October 2013
An astonishingly thorough account of WW1 and circumstances before and afterwards.
I am in awe of the authors thoroughness and attention to detail.
I have learned so much from this book which was impossible to put down. How little I knew of this tragic catastrophy.
If you want the most thorough account of this subject then this is the book to read.
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on 26 May 2014
I have always been a History buff. I thought I knew about this terrible war. I am reading this and seeing a reflection of today. The people who led our nations(ALL). Could have the same names as our MPs. They showed that they didn't respect their own countrymen.The Generals were idiots and our soldiers as usual Brave and undervalued. What a Human waste this was.
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20 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Readers should notice that 1914-1918: the History of the First World War (Penguin Press, 2004) is also published by Basic Books (New York) as Cataclysm: the First World War as Political Tragedy.

This book is very good, and gives an analytical and balanced view of the First World War. It must be the best book about the First World War at present. Mr Stevenson has made an interesting divison of the period in his book by focusing on cross-cutting issues in the middle of the war.

It is striking how close Germany was to winning the war if they themselves have not brought the UK and especially the USA in by violating Belgiums territory and with the unrestricted submarine war/Zimmermann telegram respectively. Just when Germany had defeated Russia due to the revolution, she brought the USA into the war. The only which was even more mad was that Hitler repeated the mistake in the Second World War by declaring war on the USA after Pearl Harbor. I think that without the USA in the equation Germany would with all likelihood have prevailed in both world wars.

I can recommend to supplement this reading with Annika Monbauers Helmuth von Moltke and the Origins of the First World War, which shows how the General staff operated in Germany without the same political control as in France for instance, where the chief of the General Staff Joffre had to let go of the idea of a strike through neutral Belgium due to political considerations. I can also very much recommend Nial Fergusons original analysis in The Pity of War, although I do not agree with him that France or Britain would have attacked Belgium without a German attack!
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on 16 July 2013
A really in depth history, covers all the complex political issues of the time. I never realised how little I knew about the war and I'm only a few chapters in
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