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32 Reviews
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82 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential read ...
I thought this a magnificent book. Its 600 pages are written in crystal clear English, covering the political, economic and military aspects of the War. The major campaigns of this global conflict are all well described, as is life on the home fronts of the Allies and the Central Powers. The origins are well described, while the chapters on the aftermath are...
Published on 28 Feb 2006 by David Webb

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive but not an easy read
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...
Published 19 months ago by M. Belcher


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excelent, 19 April 2008
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P. J. Dawes (Bracknell, Berkshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This is an excellent read - both in its coverage and the writing itself. It is very readable and also covers aspects of the war that ordinarily are only covered in 'great tomes', such as morale on the battlefields, the press war and the effects on the home fronts.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 8 July 2013
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This review is from: 1914-1918: The History of the First World War (Kindle Edition)
I thought after reading about the Napoleanic wars, the American Civil War The Second World War and the Korean & Vietnam wars I had missed the First World War so went back to rectify that. I chose this book as my starting block and I am so glad I did the detail covering all aspects of the build up, the actual war, year by year, and the fall out following the war was superb. Covering all aspects from polictical to financial, war aims, manufacturing and covering all fronts through Europe into Asia, Africa and the middle East. OIts a bihg book and carries a lot of information I am so glad I started here
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All you need to know about the Great War, 27 Nov 2007
Excellent. Covers the lead in to the war, what happened during it and it's aftermath, including it's impact on subsequent history and the lead in to the second world war in particular.
Written at the strategic level rather than at the operations level it covers the grand themes and is basically in the following parts
1) The Approach to War
2) The War of Movemement
3) The Stalemate Period
4) The Breakding of the Deadlock
5) Peace and it's Consequences
Well worth the read. It told me lots I didn't already know and seemed very balanced.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the best in its class, 17 Nov 2013
As a keen amateur historian I found this volume to be a superb account of the events of WW1 which is easily accessible to the non-academic. Facts are presented sensibly and relevantly and make an excellent read. With the centenary of WW1 almost upon us, I strongly recommend Stevenson for anyone who really whats to know what it is we'll be commemorating. Just buy it for this reason alone!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative, interesting but intense, 12 Nov 2013
By 
Geoff Crocker (Bristol UK) - See all my reviews
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David Stevenson's history of the First World War is exhaustive. Every sentence of the 600 densely printed pages is packed with information, often cross referring to other data within the same sentence. As a display of knowledge, and measured by factual coverage, the book is a huge success. Analysis is more sparing. Stevenson tends to drop comment after a comma in a factual statement. His analytic therefore lacks thorough working. For example, he states, in contradiction to Keynes (The Economic Consequences of the Peace), that the strictures of the Versailles treaty were not the cause of the Second World War, but were its necessary precondition. Keynes was actually at Versailles. Stevenson needs to work these kinds of argument much more deeply against their competing alternatives. The same goes for his claim that the start of the First World War was a deliberate decision of aggression by Germany. Philosophically, Stevenson clearly believes in cognitive behavioural decision theory. Very many other academics would put far more weight on causal factors, even though they may not endorse any neo-Marxist `theory of history'.

The book is somewhat exhausting as a result of being exhaustive. You have to persevere. It's as though the trudge of the war itself is reflected in getting through the book. Stevenson may be a great recorder, a chronicler, but not such an effective communicator. We may well eschew the `sound bite', but readers need to be able to digest an author's writing. Stevenson's spaghetti writing style, whilst commendable for its nutrition, does make his book less digestible. He peppers numerical data throughout the text, page 302 being a particularly notable example, whereas a summary data table, and other summary headline or timeline event tables would have eased his text and its digestibility greatly, and have made the book as communicative as it is informative.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive but not an easy read, 16 Sep 2012
By 
M. Belcher (Lund, Sweden) - See all my reviews
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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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars like a 1914 artillery shoot this book sometimes misses it's mark, 28 Sep 2012
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This review is from: 1914-1918: The History of the First World War (Kindle Edition)
The author approaches his theme by using a succession of different themes rather than a linear narrative. This leads to a lot of duplication in the text which gets a bit dull as you plough through the book. You tend to get the same facts repeated in each section without ever expanding on the information given. The curious result of this is a book that manages to be both reasonably shallow, but longwinded with it.
An impressive bibliography has been assembled but the author never quotes from any of his sources or provides any first hand information from the numerous contemporary documents he refers to in his descriptions.
Over all a 'miss' in my opinion.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 1914-1918: The History of the First World War, 23 Jan 2014
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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
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 17 Aug 2013
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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
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book, 3 Mar 2013
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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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