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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Warts and all...No stone left unturned etc...stunning., 20 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: With Our Backs to the Wall: Victory and Defeat in 1918 (Paperback)
As the title of my review suggests, after reading this book I came away with the belief that there was nothing left to know about how, why and where the Great War ended. I've read altogether well over 50 books on the subject and my facination never falters. While I would recommend a whole host of other authors, from Gary Sheffield, Prior & Wilson, John Terraine, for me the man of the moment on this subject has to be David Stevenson. His grasp of the vastness of the subject has been shown previously in his broader 1914-1918 book, but this really nails down to the detail and full analysis that seems to lack in most other books on the closing stages of the war.
Stevenson covers the actual military aspect rather quickly than most would like but really this is because Germany was only defeated militarilly when all of the other facets that enable nations to survive such a calamity are met and overcome, and sometimes then it is still not clear such as it was in 1918.
For me this is why 1918 is far more interesting than 1945, because of this historical ambiguity and the relative swiftness of the ending after 4 years of stalemate.
Stevenson explains piece by piece how the war affected the social, political, economic, logistical, tactical & technological developments of each warring nation, and right across to the Balkans and also Turkey whose involvement you are able to see in the complete picture of events as they unfold. Some of the details on shipping etc are quite dry to read but its not long before you are brought back to the mayhem of the front line to put it all in context.
This is a must for students and those interested in the subject that want to know detail, its so much more than military history, it should be seen as a bookend on the 1914-1918 conflict to sit there with Tuchman's 'Guns of August' at the other end. Although totally different in their format, they are the best on the years that they cover for different reasons.
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