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The First World War - The Complete Series [DVD]
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The First World War is the definitive documentary series about the global conflict which shaped the 20th century. Based on the book by Hew Strachan and narrated by Jonathan Lewis, the series covers all aspects of the war. The popular view of the First World War is dominated by cliché. Young British soldiers, many of them budding poets, were led to early and ghastly deaths in muddy wastes by incompetent generals for reasons that were seemingly futile. And although clichés are not necessarily lies, they are at best a selective view of the truth. This is a stunning account of the hostilities which offers new interpretations of and insights into one of the defining events of the twentieth century. And, for the first time, it offers a truly global vision of a conflict which is often misconceived as a prolonged skirmish on the Western Front. Accessible, compelling and utterly convincing, this is modern history revealed at its finest.
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Top Customer Reviews
The series will be useful to anyone interested in British and/or military history. A very good aid for the pupil at school learning about the Great War just as for the graduate.
They give a great introduction to the First World War and with only ten episodes you can't expect more. Another reader here compares it to BBCs Great War of the 1960s, and of course that series was more detailed because it was a seventeen and half hours epic!
The big advantage of the present series is that it has a modern touch showing the places as of today and very good maps, which are normally lacking in DVDs on the First and Second World Wars.
Strachans also brings home that the First World War was a true world war by describing and analysing the events outside of the Europe and the Western Front. I agree although with the other reviewers that he should have put a little more emphasis on the main events on the main theatres of war than he did.
But the only thing I really wonder about is when the two other volumes are coming in his three part book series on OUP. The account is very good although the maps are awful. They only show you the places, and not the fronts or the armies. That is hopefully gonna change in the upcoming volumes.
In contrast in this DVD little known actions are covered in a disproportional amount of detail. No other video covers aspects such as the campaign in the ex-German colonies such as German East Africa [now Tanzania] & German South West Africa [now known as Namibia]. The German attempts to incite the Islamic world into anti British & Russian actions are also covered quite comprehensively.
Even though the aforementioned aspects are treated at the expense of more important parts of the war, it does add a new dimension to a war which otherwise comprised an unremitting series of artillery bombardments, machine guns scything down lines of soldiers "going over the top" & battles which are similar to one another & which in the facetious words of Rowan Atkinson a la Black Adder merely resulted in General Haig's drink's table moving one yard nearer to Berlin.
The style is a balance between three presentation styles. The backbone are videos many of them new to this reviewer. These are interwoven with extracts of diaries from eye witnesses. This provides a sense of immediacy.Read more ›
Firstly this is a 500-minute 3 disc set, whereas the original was a 513-minute 4-disc set (currently very expensive). OK, that's probably unimportant, so I'll pass it by. I'm afraid all I know of WWI comes from reading AJP Taylor 30 years ago and Roy Jenkins's Churchill the year before last, so I'm very hazy. Oh yes, Goodbye to All That is a good read. These discs are for the most part not really history - much of it is just glib anecdote about, for example, Churchill, without any analysis at all of his career (which we need now more than ever). Pretty much the only two people alive who think he wasn't responsible for Gallipoli are Boris Johnson and Nicholas Soames, so merely to quote ANZACs who blamed their officers is pretty poor stuff (yes, anecdote is Strachan's avowed intention, I gather, but there's not room here to get into a debate about the historiographical value of that - Strachan seems to imagine his approach is neutral, but it isn't, as the method requires a lot of selectivity to begin with and involves witnesses who weren't privy to any information). No comment on convoys, an important subject, not that I can remember Churchill's thoughts about them. Perhaps Strachan's book is more considered, but I am absolutely not tempted to buy it on the strength of this show.
In episodes 6 and 9 the visuals are very juddery and unpleasant to watch, not only in the original footage, but also in the modern footage and rostrum work.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A must for every one, we should know more about the horror our forefathers went throughPublished 3 months ago by bowser
Very informative. What I liked about this series was that it did not focus solely on the British side of the conflict. Read morePublished 5 months ago by William North
My great grandfather died in this war and I wanted to know more about it and how this senseless, futile war all began. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Reb
I bought this as a gift for a relative, having recently seen the series re-broadcast on French TV. It is eminently watchable. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Writerman