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A Passionate History And Overview,
This review is from: The First World War (Hardcover)
To try to encompass a histiory of the Great War in one volume is a task which is impossible. But Keegan comes close. From the opening lines reminding you of the terrible cost to ordinary people, the fact that more people in his village died in this war than in the second world war. And that this is due to the great loss in the first meaning there are fewer to give their lives in the second is a chilling fact. His study of the causes are straightforward and totally human, we can all understand how it happened, Keegan gives us a why. But to his credit never loses sight that it could and should have been avoided. Once the inevitability of the "Railway Timetable" planning comes into play the result is death and destruction on a never before seen scale. Throughout Keegan, while embracing the Lions Led By Donkeys approach, does try to give a balanced view of the planning and execution of the military aspects of the war. Yet this is far from the whole story. His account of the battle of the Somme shows why it was a slaughter, but also a near won victory. The final chapter alone is stunning in its straightforward recounting of the losses endured by both sides.
This thought provoking history is a complete study of the war and gives you a solid basis to go on and read more if you want. But on its own stands as an outstanding contribution to our understanding of the most influential 4 years of the 20th Century.
If you only ever read one book about this terrible conflict, you can do a lot worse than this excellent study.