The Great War Hardcover – 1979
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From inside cover. The catastrophe that overtook Europe from 1914-1918 was a conflict so terrible, so gigantic, that men were to remember it, very simply, as 'The Great War'. Correlli Barnett traces the war from its origins in a Europe wracked with tension, through the years of bitterness, loss and destruction when a compromise peace proved impossible, to the war's bitter end in November 1918. Correlli Barnett is a distinguished military historian who was co-author of the award winning BBC television series, The Great War. In this gripping history he combines an exciting survey of the war with vivid descriptions of the individual's struggle for survival. He narrates the ordinary soldiers' battle experiences and their life in the trenches as well as the vital part played by civilians on the home front. The book is illustrated throughout with contemporary action photographs and maps.
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Top Customer Reviews
Barnett's style of writing and the inclusion of illustrative aids such as detailed maps and photographs make his account extremely easy to follow and understand. Its greatest success is in its narrative simplicity, given the complexity and vast array of information needed to convey an accurate and thorough account of the War.
It also succeeds, where other reports (not just on World War One) fail, as it exhibits not only facts, figures and accounts, but also moving undertones which provide a basis for further exploration in the field. From a personal point of view, since my reading of this, The First World War has become my main topic of interest - now it just happens to be that I am studying it for my A level. From an academic reader's point of view, it obviously always helps to have an entusiasm for the area of study, and Barnett certainly captures such a reader's interest.
Two appendices are included which give a date-by-date chronology of The Great War and the number of casualties suffered by each country involved, paricularly helpful for quick reference.
It is, quite simply, a great account of The Great War. As Alex Danchev, editor of the war diaries of Lord Alanbrooke, reviewed, it is 'a miricle of elegant compression'.
For a book that has to cover so much information is so little space, it isn't at all badly written. But do not expect any real background, insight or telling anecdote.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
For example, I have read two single volume histories of the Battle of Jutland. Barnett here covers it in just 4 pages...but going over it, it is hard to say he has not related the tale. He describes the strategic situation, how the Germans technically capable but small fleet was bottled up in the North Sea and the consequences of the blockade. He describes Scheer's strategy to draw out and destroy the British fleet in small parts, how it seemed to be working when Hipper's battlecruiseres staged a running duel with Beatty's squadron that brought them into range of Scheer's main task force, and then the continuation as the German's pursued Beatty back to the main British fleet. And so on...all the manuevers are covered, as are the strategic consequences. So what are you missing by reading Barnett's short account? You miss the history of the two fleet's developement's, the personalities of their creators (Fisher and Tirpitz), and their commanders (cautious Jellicoe, flamboyant Beatty, etc.) In the end, you may not care if you miss the tiny details of each ship and squadron, the exact tracks of the squadrons or the damage reports, unless you are a real naval history junkie.
And so goes the whole book. It makes marvelous quick reading to introduce one to the subject or to remind yourself how the pieces fit together. It would probably be a great first history for a precocious child as well. I'm glad I have it on my bookcase as a quick reference to the overall sequence of the war...almost an index. So the book is highly recommended, if you do not expect a definitive, in-depth history. 4.5 stars.