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This review is from: Catastrophe: Europe Goes to War 1914 (Hardcover)
Why do history books have to be over 500 pages to be taken seriously? Remember this is a book about 6 months of the first world war as it didn't start till summer of 1914. There are some good parts to this book, viz: the assassination of the Arch Duke, the reasons and justifications for joining in, the mobilisation and curiously a chapter about the war at sea which is afloat in the middle of the book. The lack of jingoism is refreshing too; we learn that the Brits had feet of clay too! Sir John French is revealed as an uncooperative and bone headed blunderer.
The problem is that the book is so dull! It is full of excerpts from the diaries of "ordinary people". Not only are these prosaic, but they completely disrupt any flow to the narrative. It is a real effort to read more than 20 or so pages at a sitting!
One other gripe: there are lots of maps which is good in a war book, but they are very confusing and often don't show the town which is the focus of the text. Thus we have much discussion about fighting in Lorraine around Nancy, but it isn't on the map.
Overall the book is not up to the standard you might expect.