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All-encompassing beginners guide
on 22 June 1999
Many works have been published on WW1. What makes this one different is that all fronts are given detailed treatment, not just the Western front, but also the Eastern, Italian, Palestine, Mesopotanian, Salonica, Gallipoli, East Africa, the naval front, and to a certain extent the air war. The Pacific front is mentioned but not really covered. Gilbert attempts to personalise the war by filling the history with personal anecdotes, and this succeeds to an extent. You will not find a survey of what motivated millions of young men to sign up, but you will find the comments of one or two of them on the subject. The book is written without bias, although most of the material describes the Entente side. The political issues are well analysed, although military issues are barely considered. Breakthroughs just happen, with no further explanation. You will not guess from the book that tanks were present at Paschendaele, or indeed were prone to sinking in the mud. You will never read about German use of tanks, although you will see the statistic that the Germans built a tenth of the tanks that the Entente built. Blame for the war is laid firmly at the door of Austria, although the part played by their Chief of Staff in all this is barely mentioned. In conclusion, a good primer in that it is all-encompassing. Not much here however for the specialist, although uniquely the book shows the war also from the point of view of both European and Palestinian Jewry.