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Customer Review

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent, though biased, analsis of the Central Powers, 23 Nov. 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The First World War: Germany and Austria-Hungary 1914-1918 (Modern Wars) (Paperback)
Being British we tend to neglect a serious analysis of the opposition in a conflict. Fortunately, however, the imbalance has been redressed with this most useful book. Herwig not only reappraises the Central Powers during the First World War, but more importantly looks at the impact of the war on the Central Powers socially, and economically. This is particularly useful as there is a real dearth of analysis on the Central Powers' home front in the First World war. We need to understand why the Central Powers survived for four years despite being undersiege. Where Herwig falls down is in his bias towards the Central Powers. Herwig is at pains to defend both their decisions and conduct during the war. Thus Herwig delights in telling us that in fact it was not the Germans but the French who first used poison gas, that the allied landings in Greece were an invasion of similar substance to the German invasion of Belgium in 1914, and that Germany was no more responible for starting the war than any other nation. Here Herwig loses some credibility, and this is the only element that detracts from his otherwise splendid work. The Allied landings at Salonika were a desperate gambit in order to bolster failing Rumania, whereas the Germans had planned to invade Belgium for years. The French may well have used gas first, but any use can only have been slight and used at a very tactical level, not with the intention of slaughtering thousands that the German High Command had for Ypres. Finally, it has been proved since the 1960's that the principle architects for war in 1914 were the Germans. It was they who pushed the flagging Austrians to war, in an attempt to break the perceived encirclement of Germany by the Entente. The Origins of War by James Joll is an excellent read for those who want to Know why war broke out in 1914. His (understandable) bias aside Herwig's work is excellent and should be read by anyone with a serious interest in the First World War
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