Top positive review
9 people found this helpful
not over the top
on 4 July 2010
I was looking for a good general history of WWI which instead of indulging in 'oh, the horror!', or pushing a political agenda, simply tells you what happened militarily. In many ways this fits the bill. I don't agree that short shrift is given to the Eastern or other fronts; after all, the Western front was decisive in the war as a whole, and LH is inevitably influenced by his British outlook, but this volume gives more space up to other fronts than any other I've seen. Indeed, the point on which it departs most from what is now conventional wisdom, is in regarding the Salonika expedition as a vital contribution to ultimate victory. Likewise, the naval side is covered well.
LH is as impartial as anyone can be, and actually the story is no less shocking and sickening when told in a detached, objective manner. He pays handsome tributes to Allied and German armies alike, and despite the book originally appearing less than twenty years after the war he doesn't spare the reputations of the 'brass hats'.
The book's weakness is in its too-evident origin as a series of individual papers. A chapter summarising each year of the war is followed by several more fleshing out the events in more detail. If read cover-to-cover, therefore, there is a fair amount of repetition. You could read just the summary chapters for an excellent short overview - LH has a real gift for getting to the essential point - but it would have been better if he could have incorporated all the material into a continuous narrative.
Overall, and despite this shortcoming, the best book I've read on the subject.