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Customer Review

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not the first book to buy about the 1914-1918 war, but maybe the second., 2 Jan. 2009
This review is from: 1914-1918: The History of the First World War (Paperback)
1914-1918: The History of the First World War

I bought this book knowing nothing much about the First World War. I had heard of the Somme, Ypres, Passchendale, but not much else. I knew its beginnings originated with the assassination of the archduke in Serbia, but not how that came to start such a massive conflict or why it lasted so long.

I now feel that I have a much better understanding of these and so many other elements of the war in what is a fantastically detailed and well-researched book. It includes all the stages of the war; from the reasons for the start, major phases in the war when the Central Powers were in the ascendancy, the Russian withdrawal and the involvement of America, through to the after-effects on world politics and economics.

However, for a first read about such a major episode it was too detailed with many facts and figures about the number of shells fired/produced etc. This is not to detract from the book which is excellent, it is just to say that, if, like me, you know very little about the First World War, then perhaps you will find this book a little heavy going and difficult to read.

That said, I will be keeping hold of the book so that I can go over sections of it now I have a better general understanding of the war, its major characters, the politics and battles.
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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 25 Mar 2009 20:10:31 GMT
Maximus Food says:
The assassination of the archduke in BOSNIA.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Dec 2009 23:07:30 GMT
Anon. says:
Actually, it was in Sarajevo, Austria-Hungary

Posted on 28 Jun 2011 11:38:05 BDT
Udeen says:
OK, Clare, so which would be the first book? That's what I'm looking for.

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Oct 2011 08:23:36 BDT
M. W. Stone says:
If a straightforward narrative history is what you're after, then AF Pollard's "A Short History of the Great War" is as good as anything.

Available online, it was published in 1920 and so is relatively free from hindsight.

AJP Taylor's "The First World War" is also a good read, but a bit idiosyncratic so best read in conjunction with something else.

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Oct 2011 08:35:09 BDT
Udeen says:
Many thanks, MW.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Nov 2011 15:10:44 GMT
Last edited by the author on 1 Nov 2011 15:11:07 GMT
M. W. Stone says:
No prob.

For particular parts of WW1 the material is vast. Barbara Tuchman's "The Guns of August" covers the opening phase brilliantly and John Toland's "No Man's Land" is excellent for the campaigns of 1918.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Nov 2011 16:24:43 GMT
Udeen says:
MW, I'll explain my interest. My maternal Grandfather fought in WWI. I think that he did want to talk about his experiences but nobody in the family wanted to hear. I'm sure that's quite natural; at the end of such a war I suppose many people want to think about anything else.

I was named after my Grandfather, who died a few months before I was born. When he retired (from the Post Office in Weymouth), he was given a watch. The story goes that after he died, my Grandmother wound the watch up without fail every day; it never stopped. On my weddding day I was given the watch. Needless to say I have decided not to see the watch as a cross to bear.

My mother is 81. I feel that my name and the watch are telling me that it is my task to learn about my grandfather and talk to my mother about him before she dies. I wanted to start by getting some background on a major influence in his life (WWI) and then do some geneology stuff. So, what I seek is a book that helps me to understand what happened and how this might have impacted on my Grandfather.

I foresee an orgy of WWI nostalgia coming along in 2014. I'd like to get it sorted before then!

Do you have any thoughts on which of the above best fits the bill?

Thank you.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Nov 2011 16:47:17 GMT
M. W. Stone says:
That's a huge question. The First Worl War is one of the most written-about events in modern history, and I hardly know where to start. All in all, the Pollard book is probably best, as it's closest to the events, but there are whole libraries of stuff about the experiences of individual soldiers.

I am into family history myself (I'm the Family History Director at my (LDS) Chapel. However, I've not found any direct ancestors in WW1, though two great-uncles served in the Australian Army. Thankfully both survived.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Nov 2011 17:41:08 GMT
Udeen says:
I've taken the plunge, MW (AF Pollard). Thanks again.
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