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The First World War: An Illustrated History (Penguin Books) by [Taylor, A. J. P.]
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The First World War: An Illustrated History (Penguin Books) Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Length: 296 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product Description


'The most readable, sceptical and original of modern historians' - Michael Foot 'Remarkable ... Taylor here manages in some 200 illustrated pages to say almost everything that is important for an understanding and, indeed, intellectual digestion of that vast event' Observer 'It is unlikely that there will be a more satisfactory compact survey of that Armageddon' Newsweek 'What makes Taylor's book outstanding is his capacity to penetrate through the undergrowth of controversy and conflicting interpretation to the central truth' New York Review of Books 'Probably the most controversial historian in the English-speaking world' The Times

About the Author

A.J.P. Taylor (1906-1990) was one of the most brilliant historians of the twentieth century. He served as a lecturer at the Universities of Manchester, Oxford, and London.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 42112 KB
  • Print Length: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Impression edition (28 Mar. 1974)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #143,065 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
AJP Taylor was always one of my favourite historians - far more readable than most - and this book is no exception. As the title implies, it is heavier on illustrations than text, but none the worse for that.

Contrary to what some have said, it is not primarily a diatribe against the generals. Taylor may not especially like them (how many do, aside from the late John Terraine?), but his verdict on Haig, in particular, is fair and even generous, especially for the time of writing

"He was a master of railway timetables, deploying divisions as skilfully as any general of his time. His strategical judgements were sound within the framework of the Western front, though he lacked the technical means for carrying them to success until almost the end of the war. - - - Haig had to do what he did, and, though he did not succeed, no one better was found to take his place."

Not a bad epitaph, especially compared to some others Haig has received.

Taylor is tougher on the politicians, who were, after all, in ultimate charge. He records how Joffre had sensibly decided to evacuate Verdun, only to be overruled by Briand. There are many verbal gems, notably his description of the Zimmermann note as "a bright idea such as only a Foreign Office could conceive".

On some points, his prejudices have been toned down, so that emaciated "victims of Allied intervention in Russia" in the first edition became "Victims of civil war in Russia" in the next and finally just "War and famine in Russia" in the paperback. But some still shine through. In particular, Lloyd George is an exception to his low opinion of the political leadership.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A. J. P. Taylor was one of the most acclaimed and controversial historians of the twentieth century. Here he writes a classic account of the first World War from the German invasion of France via Belgium and the resulting stagnant trench warfare on the Western front to the Russian disasters on the Eastern front. He also covers Gallipoli, the Balkans and the war at sea along with every other major campaign during the war. He amply covers the apparent senseless slaughter of the trenches and employs the traditional viewpoint of senseless generals sending brave men to their deaths in their hundreds of thousands. It is more than a military history book however as Taylor also analyses the political and social history of the main protagonists in great detail. Far from just covering the war from the perspective of the great loss of human life it becomes more of an analysis of the concept of total war and social change in the first truly industrial global war.

Taylor's book has attained quite a scholarly following in history circles. It is well researched, very accurate in detail and well written. His viewpoints are quite thought provoking but they do mirror quite accurately the viewpoints of modern historians. Some may disagree with this comment but after doing a modern history degree three years ago, the subject matter I read for this period did not detract that much from Taylor's viewpoints. I was actually surprised to find this so seeing as the book is around thirty plus years old and if there was a conflict of detail between Taylor's book and my course material then it certainly provoked a stimulating but often inconclusive debate!

I would say that overall Taylor's book is a classic of its time; it's a great read full of interesting detail about all aspects of the First World War I enjoyed it immensely but I would point out that you would be best put to read other history books covering this period for a better comparative understanding of the period.
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Format: Paperback
Some strange comments about this. 'The debate has moved on'? In some technical respects, perhaps, but the need to explain how and why 'a whole generation was butchered and damned' has not disappeared.

What nobody seems to have mentioned, though, is that this is not a purpose-written history of WWI; it is made up of excerpts from Taylor's general history of Britain 1914-45, profusely illustrated with photographs of the conflict. It would be foolish, therefore, to expect anything other than a patchy, impressionistic treatment. Nevertheless, this is a perfectly good short introduction to the subject, well-written, with plenty of Taylor's trademark insights. A thousand times better than those cop-out 'histories' so common today, which are no more than bits of primary sources strung together.
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Format: Paperback
AJP Taylor was considered one of the giants of the British historical community. He is the one historian just about every GCSE pupil will have heard of, largely as his works seem to be the most widely quoted in school history text books on the Great War. Which is a shame in a way. Taylor's strength was never in running with the pack. His great strength, a strength that is still present in his works if read today, is that by their controversial nature they stimulated debate. That pretty fairly sums up the appeal of this book. It is a typical product of the 1960s/70s school of Great war historiography. The generals are butchers, the soldiers are dewey eyed, forelock touching innocents sent trotting off to their deaths by unfeeling idiots. The debate has since moved on. Plus, if you are looking for an account of the war in MILITARY terms, this is not the one for you. It's strengths lie in the spheres of social and political history. On the plus side, Taylor's writing style is entertaining and drily witty. The text is enhanced by the addition of a number of photographs scattered throughout the book (many of these include explanatory captions, a further opportunity for Taylor to exercise some rather wry humour. "Lloyd George casts an expert eye over munitions girls"... Well quite.). It is an easy read and very accessible for a Great War novice or younger student. Go into it with your eyes open and take it for what it is - a product of it's times and it's somewhat idiosyncratic author - and there is a lot to be gained from this book. It is an excellent stimulus for debate. Just be sure to read more widely because this gives a very personal and outdated picture. If you only ever read one history of the Great War DON'T make it this one!
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