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34 of 34 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

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7 of 12 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


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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 24 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: The First World War (Kindle Edition)
Excellent book
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 21 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: The First World War (Paperback)
Excellent
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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.
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4 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Maps a mess in Kindle version, 21 Nov. 2012
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This review is from: The First World War (Kindle Edition)
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..
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2 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dry. Where's the story?, 25 July 2013
By 
M. P. Revell "Matthew Revell" (Wolverhampton, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The First World War (Paperback)
The First World War is, like all history, a story of individuals and their actions.

This book abstracts all of that away and substitutes dry, dull, endless passages that make reading it tiring.

It also takes a hell of a long time to get to the war itself. Yes, the run-up is vital to understand the context but it's almost stripped of the humanity of that context.

I'll keep chipping away but it must take a special effort to turn history into something so dry and dull.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Missing pages!, 28 April 2013
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This review is from: The First World War (Paperback)
Half way through 30 pages of this book was missing. I liked the book otherwise but this was very diapoointing.
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5 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Pics, 7 Oct. 2003
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Amazon Customer (PLYMOUTH, DEVON United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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I must admit that I haven't read this book in full yet. It is full of many illustrations in colour that are new to me but don't expect a definitive blow by blow account of the war. The text is an extract from Keegan's non-illustrated book The First World War and as such can only briefly cover many topics. With so many illustrated books on WWI it really doesn't offer anything new.
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The First World War
The First World War by John Keegan
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