Customer Reviews


33 Reviews
5 star:
 (16)
4 star:
 (11)
3 star:
 (2)
2 star:
 (2)
1 star:
 (2)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book that I would reccommend to anyone.
Coming from a generation whose grandparents were involved in the Second and not the First World War, before I read John Keegan's book my only knowledge of the whole affair was limited. Although I had heard of names such as the Somme and Ypres and the great suffering that occurred there, I knew little else. Keegan's book has enabled me to increase my knowledge of this...
Published on 24 July 2000 by Andy Stephenson

versus
6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Inaccessible Reading
As much as I would agree with other reviewers that this is a well-researched book with a wealth of information on many aspects of the war, I found this incredibly difficult to get into. I felt that it was really dense, shifting between countries and treaties and statistics, without any real explanation. Approaching this book as a novice left me feeling disoriented...
Published on 2 Mar 2012 by Dan


Most Helpful First | Newest First

5.0 out of 5 stars The First World War, 7 Sep 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The First World War (Hardcover)
This book really clarifies the causes, mistakes & successes of the "Great War" also the valour of that contemptable little army & also of the valour of the enemy.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very well constructive, but not on the AJP Taylor park..., 9 July 2001
By 
Jennifer Okonkwo "SteveP" (London, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The First World War (Paperback)
I did enjoy this book, which was clearly constructed and included some telling observations. Where it was lacking was in characterisation, and at times had too much of an "end-to-end" feel. As if the author was racing too much. This was a reminder that the book was written as a piece of history, losing the kind of "contemporary" current affairs feel that AJP Taylor uses to bring the epoch to life. Still, a thoroughly good book that has a clear sense of direction, if not necessarily a ground-breaking set of observations or sensitivities.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well done., 2 July 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The First World War (Hardcover)
Most people would agree that great novels of war such as "All Quiet on the Western Front", or more recent ones such as "Das Boot" and "The Triumph and the Glory" are far more capable of communicating to the reader the true horror and sacrifice of conflict than histories, since fiction is by nature able to draw upon resources not available to a historian, who must rely upon dry facts. But John Keegan OBE is a military historian of such vast talent and eloquence that his books command the attention of many of us who usually avoid history volumes. "The First World War" is the latest of fine works by a master and I recommend it highly.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cancel it out, 2 Jan 2013
This review is from: The First World War (Hardcover)
Two people here have given 1 star ratings based upon their seller experience and problems with kindle.
Just giving a 5 star rating to cancel out those effects somewhat and give it a fairer total rating.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent overview, 5 Jan 2011
This review is from: The First World War (Paperback)
The best and most comprehensive overview of WW1 that I have found. It avoids the "stupid officers, brave Tommies" oversimplification of events, by exploring some of the real strategic and cultural reasons behind the military decisions taken.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must buy, 15 Dec 2010
By 
J. Duducu (Ruislip) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The First World War (Paperback)
I first discovered John Keegan by reading his underrated book on the American Civil War. It then occurred to me that I had never read a book that covered the whole of World War 1 and sought out a book that could do justice to such a huge topic.

Well here it is. John Keegan is a master at summarising complex situations and explaining them in a very accessible way. His chapter on how war broke out and all the points it could have been averted reads like a thriller. Unlike other books I have read on the great war focus on one event or one front which always lurch into intolerably dry lists of divisions and daily movements of troops. Keegan has to round up what happened, to whom and why and always does so without you thinking you have been short changed in depth. This is an amazing feat considering what he has to get through in a little over 400 pages.

The writing is effortless and opinion neutral. All sides have victories, all sides have failures and brutality is highlighted when it is warranted. The only revisionist part is where Keegan addresses the controversy surrounding the Western military leaders, pointing out how many anachronisms have been heaped on them. That's not to say that this is a love letter to Haig but more a realistic assessment of his flaws and strengths.

My personal opinion is that World War 1 is the most misunderstood event in history. In that most people have heard about it but then after than the popular view is all gas, trenches, inflexible generals and poetry. Keegan shows how wrong this view is, while never diminishing the horrors of the Western (and Eastern) front he shows there was a lot more going on than men sitting in trenches, being shelled and writing powerful verse.

In short this is an essential book on World War 1.

If you liked this there's more historical debate and fun at @HistoryGems on Facebook and Twitter
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Inaccessible Reading, 2 Mar 2012
This review is from: The First World War (Paperback)
As much as I would agree with other reviewers that this is a well-researched book with a wealth of information on many aspects of the war, I found this incredibly difficult to get into. I felt that it was really dense, shifting between countries and treaties and statistics, without any real explanation. Approaching this book as a novice left me feeling disoriented. Moreover, Keegan's writing style is very formal and lacks any real personality; it is therefore not particularly pleasurable to read, and at times I felt myself skipping forward.

Also, this is not really a people's history, in that it doesn't really dwell on the lives of the soldiers in any great detail, but rather the politicians that sign the papers that lead them into battle. I also found that, a hundred pages in, there was hardly any mention of the British in the war, and the perspective was mainly from Serbian and French accounts.

This is a scholarly but also very dense read. It moves at such a pace through so many issues and ideas that it will leave you feeling more confused than when you first set out.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 21 Aug 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The First World War (Paperback)
Excellent
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Superficial, 1 Jan 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The First World War (Hardcover)
This book was rather disappointing. It contains a broad narrative history of the First World War but with little critical examination of the dynamics of what happened. The First World War was seen by those who were in it as cataclysmic. The fighting was bloody and inconclusive. This led to a collapse of legitimacy in the regimes who were the main belligerents. Russia and Germany which were authoritarian empires experienced social revolutions. The Austro-Hungarian Empire was broken up. In England, there was a generation of writers such as Robert Graves and Seigfried Sassoon who wrote of the war describing it as senseless.
Anyone familiar with both the first and second world wars will realize the contrast between the two conflicts. The First World War was characterized by stagnant trench lines with very heavy loss of human life. The Second World War was different in that although the loss of life was far greater, the reason for it was not casualties in battle but the widespread killing of non-combatants and prisoners. For example in the Second World War the German Army suffered about 30,000 casualties in the conquest of France. By contrast the British Army lost 50,000 casualties on the first day of the Somme offensive with no appreciable gain of ground.
The character of the First World War has used to be thought to result from the slow recognition of the effectiveness of new weapons. These included the machine gun, the magazine rifle, the use of barbed wire and the development of quick firing artillery. Such weapons made attacks on fortified positions difficulty and costly of human life. According to this theory the reason why the Second World War was different was due to the use of the Tank and Aircraft. Tanks were able to break through fortified positions and to make wars, wars of movement. More recently, this view of things has been challenged. The reason for this is that a number of Second World War battles were fought without tanks and used similar weapons to that used in the First World War. Accordingly the reason for the bloody character of the First World War was the poor quality of generalship and the development of tactics. (See Donkeys by Alan Clark for example)
Keegan's examination of the various major battles is superficial. The reason for this is no doubt the vast reach of the subject. In a book of some 400 pages he looks at every campaign of the war. This means that he is limited in what he can say about any battle. His discussion of the battles around Verdun for instance are nine pages long. It is Keegan's view that the Generals were not incompetent. His view is that the main reason for difference in the First and Second World wars was the use of radio sets. The cumbersome sets of the first war made it impossible to coordinate the various arms of the services. With small mobile sets everything changed.
Unfortunately he fails to look at the reality of the individual battles and to see why break throughs did not eventuate. Was it prudent to plan a battle at Ypres when it should have been clear that the preliminary bombardments would turn the battlefield into a quagmire and prevent the movement of heavy equipment through them and preclude any real advance. Was it sensible on the first day of the Somme battles to assume that an artillery barrage had been successful and to march army units across in tight formation so that German machine gunners could have a field day. The book really fails to look in an analytical way at the war based on most modern studies.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Maps a mess in Kindle version, 21 Nov 2012
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A readable book that gives a reasonable overview of the huge arena of the First Word War.
Unfortunately the maps in the Kindle version are all misplaced in the text and wrongly labeled.
The book is quite expensive, for an e-book and shouldn't be faulty in this way.
If a paper book was faulty like this,you would take it back to the shop for a replacement/ refund, but with
Kindle you are just stuck with a duff book..
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The First World War
The First World War by John Keegan (Audio CD - May 2004)
£22.85
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews