First World War: An Illustrated History: New Illustrated Edition Hardcover – 4 Oct 2001
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Despite the avalanche of books written about the First World War in recent years, there have been comparatively few books that have concentrated on delivering the big picture--a comprehensive account of the war and its campaigns from start to finish--and this book fills the gap superbly. As readers familiar with John Keegan's previous books, such as the The Face Battle, Six Armies in Normandy, and The Second World War, will know, Keegan is a historian of the old school. He has no earth-shattering new theories to challenge the status quo, no first-person accounts to tug on the emotions; what he does have, though, is the gift for talking the lay person through the twists and turns of a complex narrative in a way that is never less than accessible or engaging. Keegan never tries to ram his learning down your throat. Where other authors have struggled to explain how Britain could ever allow itself to be dragged into such a war in 1914, Keegan keeps it practical. The level of communications that we enjoy today just didn't exist then, and so it was much harder to keep track of what was going on. By the time a message had finally reached the person in question, the situation may have changed out of all recognition. Keegan applies this same "cock-up" theory of history to the rest of the war, principally the three great disasters at Gallipoli, the Somme, and Passchendaele. The generals didn't send all those troops to their death deliberately; they did so out of incompetence, ineptitude, and because they had no idea of what was actually going on at the front. Whether deliberate or not, though, the end result was nearly one million dead British and Commonwealth soldiers. The First World War is not afraid to point the finger at those generals who deserve it, but even Keegan has to admit he doesn't have all the answers. If it all seems so obviously futile and such a massive waste of life now, he asks, how could it have seemed worthwhile back then? Why did so many people carry on, knowing they would die? Why indeed. --John Crace --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
" Eloquent.... Mr. Keegan captures the anamolous, even surreal quality of the war." -"The New York Times"
" The best one-volume account there is." -"Civilization"
" Elegantly written, clear, detailed, and omniscient.... Keegan is ...perhaps the best military historian of our day." -"The New York Times Book Review"
" Undoubtedly the world's most accessible and popular military historian." -"Los Angeles Times Book Review"
" Magisterial.... A miracle of concision." -"The Weekly Standard"
" An epic tale.... Makes us keenly aware of how battles are fought, won, and lost." -"Fortune"
"Eloquent.... Mr. Keegan captures the anamolous, even surreal quality of the war." -The New York Times
Top customer reviews
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.
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