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An Illustrated History of the First World War Hardcover – 1 Oct 2001


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Hardcover, 1 Oct 2001
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9f3ffd68) out of 5 stars 24 reviews
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f0ba5dc) out of 5 stars Exceptional insight into the Great War. 20 Jan. 2002
By Stuart Hall - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Like many people of my age, my great grandfather was killed in the First World War and I have become increasingly interested in finding out more about the conflict and the circumstances which led to it. A subject like this is difficult to encapsulate, particularly given the complexity and far reaching nature of the war. I found this book by accident, but was attracted initially by it's format and layout, with a good balance of narrative, artwork, maps and photographs. I am delighted to say that the content of the book more than lived up to it's presentation and I found it extremely easy to read. The author displays complete control of the subject matter and his enthusiasm for his writing shows. My only slight criticism would be the lack of maps relating to some of the events on the Eastern Front, Balkan States and Italy, which at times made the narrative difficult to follow. The ultimate success of this book for me is that it has spurred me onto reading further on the subject. I would thoroughly recommend this book.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f0bdb94) out of 5 stars This Book Rules 1 May 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent book for anyone wanting to know the details of The Great War. It has a nonstop plethora of pictures which take you through the entire war from the assassination of the Archduke to final day of fighting. The book can be very detailed, describing or showing troop movements, horrific battle conditions, and casualty reports. None of the major battles are overlooked. Mention is also made to the fact that most countries were unprepared for 20th century warfare. Major personalities are profiled in special pages of the book including the famous Red Baron. Not limited to just Europe, Keegan describes the war elsewhere in the world including Africa and in the Pacific theatre. War in the air is discussed including a special section on dirigibles and airplanes. A must read for the serious student of WW I.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f0a8984) out of 5 stars Well balanced work, but not easy to read 3 Jan. 2002
By Paul Anciaux - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I find this a very balanced work, covering different aspects of the Great War. It is very detailed and presents excellent photographs. However, one gets indeed lost in the detailed descriptions of the different battle scenes. It is very difficult for the reader to visualise those battles, because you are confronted with pages and pages describing all the troop movements in great detail, but without the support of small maps. That really is a pity, for otherwise this is an excellent book.
49 of 62 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f0a8d68) out of 5 stars Two (or three) books trying to be one - unsuccessfully. 18 Feb. 2003
By Daryl Anderson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I have written a lengthier, critical review of Keegan's minimally-illustrated "The First World War", which needs summarizing here in part because the text of that earlier book is essentially reproduced here. There is little point in owning both.
My complaints about the earlier book remain unappeased, but this illustrated edition at least provides a comprehensive visual sense of the Great War. Its inherited failings, in my opinion, are a duo:
(1) Very limited use of maps, either geographic or battlefield, coupled with extensive, extremely detailed descriptions of the geography and movements of battles. This will leave all but the student of the war skimming names and places that float disconnectedly in a vague, abstracted geographic space; somewhat similar to the way one reads an old Russian novel in which the blur of Raskalnikovovitches is cured only by a geneology. This book, illustrated or not, includes only the same, sparse count of 15 maps as the earlier text.
(2) Essentially no attention to the world beyond the battlefield. Keegan introduces his text with a decent description of the diplomatic flounderings that preceded the war, and also makes a sound case that military prerogatives propelled the early months' movement toward stalemate. But one does not get the sense that actual governments or peoples were anything other than bystanders to this war. Perhaps this is, indeed, the case, but I imagine a social or political historian would differ. This book remains a "Military" history, illustrated or not.
These flaws earned the earlier book only two stars. The additional one I propose for this volume is earned by the extensive illustration. In a Technicolor world of laser-guided, night-sighting weaponry, it is easy to bury "the old world" in black and white portraits of kings and tsars. This book suffers from having a few too many of those, but its solid selection of looking-you-in-the-eye soldiers, mud-at-your-ankles trench-shots and even the apparently scarce photos of battle-in-progress brings the gritty reality of this war to reality; black-and-white or not.
The illustrations are often only loosely associated with the chronology of the text - rarely could the text actually ask you, for instance, to "see figure 1" - which illustration shared the page and enhanced the text. This, of course, reflects the fact that the book is a bit of a "paste-up" - the illustrations were pretty much inserted into the pre-existing text. Furthermore, the body of illustrations seems needlessly padded with old shots of generals and leaders. Keegan (presuming he actually selected the photos and other illustrations), seems to have only casually pulled from the vast archive of period photos. The actual text would have been much enhanced by a more careful (albeit time-consuming) process of photo-selection that does not seem to have taken place. (It's actually more than likely that Keegan did not select the illustrations at all. He seems to have become a bit of "an industry" in the military history publishing business. Search on his name and you will find dozens of listings where he has been called upon to edit this or that or to write an introduction to someone else's work.) One imagines a very busy junior editor at work with these photos. Perhaps I'm too cynical - in which case credit Keegan with an only mediocre sense of the uses of illustration.
The book is enhanced, but also interrupted, in a sense, by short thematic groupings of photos and associated text such as "Communications" and "Military Medicine." These are interesting in their own right, but also highlight the fundamental problem of this book - it cannot be read in any fluid sense. The illustrations persistently call one away from a careful reading of the text but the illustrations alone do not come close to telling a coherent story. I found myself flipping ahead looking at photos and reading their supporting text and then backing up and reading only the text.
I remain unsatisfied by either Keegan book and will aim my search toward the few "atlases" of the War available for mapped military history and for less battle-focused texts to tell the whole story. Maybe recognizing that two or even three good books are needed here is at the core of my critique of this one, which tries to be more than it is. It remains for you to decide what you wish to own.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f0a8e58) out of 5 stars WELL-RESEARCHED AND VIVIDLY PORTRAYED 12 Dec. 2001
By Sandra D. Peters - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
My grandfather served overseas during World War I, and years later died as a result of lung injuries sustained during those terrifying days. Many historians refute the atrocities of the Germans in Belgium; however, since my grandfather served for a time in Belgium, he knew first-hand that these stories of horror did in fact happen. The writing style is slightly dry in parts; however, the author has given a factual account of the events during this time period and has obviously completed much in-depth research. So many accounts of both World War I and II appear to be a duplication of someone else's research, and this is not the case with John Keegan. He has unearthed many facts that other author's failed to do. This is a book history buffs will not want to miss.
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