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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent starting point for those interested in WW1.
This book is intended to accompany the television series of the same name and as such is not a "heavyweight" history of the war. It is by necessity brief and concise. However, what it does, it does very well indeed. There are a large number of one volume histories of the war available. These are the books to which most readers looking for an introduction to...
Published on 11 Jun 2000

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Not really a history
Having just returned from an excellent coach visit to the Ypres Salient and the Somme I was interested in getting a wider perspective of the war on the Western Front. Alas this book provides a very detailed account of pretty well everything that moved there - I was looking for a more comprehensive overview. I knew that the author had been a guide on these tours and this...
Published 20 months ago by B. A. Smith


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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent starting point for those interested in WW1., 11 Jun 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Western Front (Hardcover)
This book is intended to accompany the television series of the same name and as such is not a "heavyweight" history of the war. It is by necessity brief and concise. However, what it does, it does very well indeed. There are a large number of one volume histories of the war available. These are the books to which most readers looking for an introduction to the Great War will look at first. However, many of these one volume histories, while still relevant as part of the war's historiography, argue views which are heavily influenced by personal politics and are not consistent with much of the excellent research which is being produced today, which is doing something to redress the balance in favour of the much maligned generals. One volume histories which fall into this category include, in my opinion the works of A.J.P. Taylor and B.H. Liddell-Hart, both of which are texts which frequently find their way into the hands of Great War virgins. As someone who falls very much into the camp that would like to look at the war more in terms of military, rather than social, history this book fills the gap in the one volume market nicely. The introduction also provides an excellent section dealing with the historiography of the war, which should be of further use to the novice enthusiast. If you're looking for a one volume history of the war, you could certainly do far worse than to get your sticky little hands on this. If you're looking for a book that deals with the specifics of any particular campaign or aspect of the war, this is not really for you. Also note that it does not deal with fronts other than the Western Front in any detail. Given the title however, I think it can be forgiven this! If you want a one volume introduction to the war which is written in a highly readable, enthusiastic style and which takes into account the latest research, this is the one for you. Try to see the TV series too, if you can. It's top notch. Incidentally, re one of the other reviews, Professor Holmes is now Professor of Security Studies at Cranfield University and is also (he certainly was, I believe he still is) Director, Reserve Forces with the British Army.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A pleasing new book, 9 May 2000
This review is from: The Western Front (Hardcover)
There has been plenty of time since the end of World War 1 for appraisals and only recently have they become more balanced and fair than the ones written before when hate was still in the hearts of many. Holmes book is a brilliant overview of the war written in a manner we have come to expect from this outstanding historian. That it differs so much from the quite trite TV series that it supports, says a lot about the medium.
This is not a detailed description of the war. Rather an overview and a outstandingly fair one. Not only does he carefully discuss the stance taken by many of his colleagues but he also explains things from the German point of view. For many people, World War 1 is some vague happening in the distant past. Few realise that it moulded this century and that we are still experiencing its effects. That interest in the war is increasing is only a good thing and modern fair books like this one are needed now.
As a starting point, one could do no better than Holmes book. My one grizzle is the lack of references.
His chapter on the generals will annoy anyone who still believes the Lions led by donkeys approach, a view thankfully now discredited. It is a fair, accurate and most plausible explanation of the role of the generals that goes a long way to explain why horrors like The Somme were perpetrated.
Frankly I can't wait for him to turn his attention to Gallipoli, that other ignored and vital war zone.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A very wel written book., 7 May 2014
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This review is from: The Western Front (Paperback)
If someone should like to read a book about the first world war on the western front you should read this work by Richard Holmes.It is a clear and good understandable work.
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5.0 out of 5 stars BRILLIANT BOOK, 30 April 2014
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F. Doyle - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Western Front (Hardcover)
But then, so are all of Richard Holmes' books. He was a great military historian, who saw service, understood the squaddie, and walked or rode over many military engagements to help him understand the military decisions made in times of conflict.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, 6 Aug 2013
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This review is from: The Western Front (Paperback)
A great description, without too much detail. A final chapter about the overall war putting the western front into perspective was very interesting. A sadly missed author.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not really a history, 29 Nov 2012
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B. A. Smith "Brian Smith" (East Molesey, Surrey) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Western Front (Paperback)
Having just returned from an excellent coach visit to the Ypres Salient and the Somme I was interested in getting a wider perspective of the war on the Western Front. Alas this book provides a very detailed account of pretty well everything that moved there - I was looking for a more comprehensive overview. I knew that the author had been a guide on these tours and this book almost seemed like his notes. Its a pity and I made a mistake - his reputation describing battles on TV mislead me. Just wasn't the book I was looking for I'm afraid
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13 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richard Holmes IS A historian., 29 May 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Western Front (Hardcover)
Describing Richard Holmes as a 'history buff' is rather like calling David Attenborough a 'plant enthusiast'. Unless I'm very much mistaken, Professor Richard 'history buff' Holmes used to (and still does as far as I know) lecture on military strategy at Sandhurst Military Academy. I think he has a fair of what he's talking about.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very good, 5 Aug 2014
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This review is from: The Western Front (Paperback)
Very good read - worth reading
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 10 April 2013
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This review is from: The Western Front (Paperback)
The Best of the WW1 books by many a mile.
Six words added as required by computer
Six words added as required by computer
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13 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good introduction to the Western Front, 7 May 2004
By 
Ian Thumwood "ian17577" (Winchester) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Western Front (Paperback)
Whilst there are certainly more comprehensive books about the First World War and few writers have been able to convey the horror of the conflict quite like Lynn MacDonald, this is a very good introduction. Familiar to viewers through his numerous TV series, there is no doubt about Richard Holmes' expertise on his subject, although like fellow historian Gary Sheffield, there is a tendancy to exonerate the incompetance of the generals and narrate the story from the perspective of the army. This is not surprising given that he teaches at the Royal Military College of Science, although I, for one, would like to learn more on the soldier's thoughts of being conscripted. (I would love to know his thoughts on the war on Iraq, especially after the recent abuses carried out by British soldiers!!)
All in all, this is a highly readable account of the First World War, although limited in scope to the Western Front. Holmes has the ability to tell the history in a very lucid fashion, inter-weaving human stories with the broader picture. This book falls somewhere between the personal accounts of the experience of war that are so gripping and the more scholarly and militaristic efforts that are too dry for my taste. Setting aside my slight reservations about this writer's apparent right wing tendancies, I cannot but recommend this book to the general reader.
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