Customer Review

20 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book about the First World War at present :o), 3 May 2006
This review is from: 1914-1918: The History of the First World War (Paperback)
Readers should notice that 1914-1918: the History of the First World War (Penguin Press, 2004) is also published by Basic Books (New York) as Cataclysm: the First World War as Political Tragedy.

This book is very good, and gives an analytical and balanced view of the First World War. It must be the best book about the First World War at present. Mr Stevenson has made an interesting divison of the period in his book by focusing on cross-cutting issues in the middle of the war.

It is striking how close Germany was to winning the war if they themselves have not brought the UK and especially the USA in by violating Belgiums territory and with the unrestricted submarine war/Zimmermann telegram respectively. Just when Germany had defeated Russia due to the revolution, she brought the USA into the war. The only which was even more mad was that Hitler repeated the mistake in the Second World War by declaring war on the USA after Pearl Harbor. I think that without the USA in the equation Germany would with all likelihood have prevailed in both world wars.

I can recommend to supplement this reading with Annika Monbauers Helmuth von Moltke and the Origins of the First World War, which shows how the General staff operated in Germany without the same political control as in France for instance, where the chief of the General Staff Joffre had to let go of the idea of a strike through neutral Belgium due to political considerations. I can also very much recommend Nial Fergusons original analysis in The Pity of War, although I do not agree with him that France or Britain would have attacked Belgium without a German attack!
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 23 Apr 2008 19:50:15 BDT
J. Stringer says:
In respect of the statement 'I think that without the USA in the equation Germany would with all likelihood have prevailed in both world wars.' I would suggest further reading in respect of World War II. Try Russia's War - Richard Overy, Stalingrad - Antony Beevor, Armageddon - Max Hastings and Barbarossa - Alan Clark. All tremendous books about the conflict on the Eastern front which may well change your views of where the war was truly lost for Germany.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Sep 2008 06:28:41 BDT
Jan Wammen says:
Thanks for your suggestion. I have read most of the books mentioned, but I am of the opinion that Germany could have won the war in the East, where as the could not win a war against the United States. Hitler made the mistake of attacking late in the year - if he had just attacked 3-4 weeks before - which could have been possible - or/and not diverted the attack from Moscow in August 1941 to the Ukraine, there would have been a real possibility to reach Moscow. I Know that the war was not won by itself by reaching Moscow, but it would have been the major blow, and it would have been much easier thereafter to go for Leningrad and Ukraine/the Caucasus.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jan 2009 12:35:15 GMT
I accept that had Hitler not become distracted Barbarossa might have fulfilled its aims and the war in the East finished. But is it not also the case that once the Soviets halted the Germans, as at Moscow and then turned them, as at Stalingrad, that from that point on Germany was doomed? The Soviets just got stronger and the Germans ever weaker. They had greater reserves of manpower, resources and industrial capacity and a pitiless desire for revenge. I am of the opinion that the Russians could and would have destroyed Germany even without the opening of the second front in the west.

Posted on 20 Oct 2009 11:13:08 BDT
Squeeth says:
Hitler was undone when Britain gloved up in the corner rather than give in. This made Germany even more dependent on Russia for imports. Russian grain and oil were bought with machine tools so Russia was feeding Germany and Germany was rearming Russia! The longer Hitler waited after it was clear that Britain was't going to fold, the further the strategic balance would swing in Stalin's favour. The invasion of Russia in 1941 was Hitler's only chance of crushing the USSR before it became too well armed and then looting far more resources than the trade deals were obtaining to fight the looming air-sea war with Britain and the US. It all went wrong for Hitler in August-September 1941 because of the resistance of the Red Army. Everything was downhill from then on. The US did plenty in the war but the victory of the USSR in 1941 allowed it to happen.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Jun 2012 09:48:37 BDT
Last edited by the author on 27 Jun 2012 09:56:59 BDT
Unlikely that the Soviets could have won the war without the Western Allies. Quite apart from the pinning down of 8 German armies in France and Italy and the destruction of the Luftwaffe by western air forces, when the Soviets went onto the offensive, they were far more dependent on US aid than they care to remember. The tanks and other stuff sent via Murmansk early on made a small impact. But later on they received jeeps, trucks, rolling stock to rebuild their shattered railways and above all aviation fuel shipped via the Caucasus or into Vladivostok under Soviet flag (the USSR was not at war with Japan until the bitter end). Although it was (iirc) about 10% of their total output, it was a pretty key 10%.
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