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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
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I've seen some negative comments about this book and I'm surprised. I found it an engaging and enjoyable read. It's clear, concise and makes a dry and difficult subject both accessible and interesting. It's a book which I'd encourage any youngster to read; as an introductory taster it may fire their enthusiasm to learn more. I found it a fascinating refresher and it reminded me how much I'd forgotten! A great little book.
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on 2 May 2017
What a clear, concise summary of the whole war in modern day language. Brilliant!
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on 29 May 2017
A really good overview account showing passionate interest and a sense of humour. A great starter book to stimulate further reading.
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on 21 November 2014
A very concise and educational overview of this terrible war. Easy to dip in and out of for reference, here's hoping we never see its like again, what a terrible waste of life for very little.
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on 19 August 2014
I agree with the reviewer who said it was too flippant.
I bought this based on the overall view of all the reviewers, but wish I hadn't.
The jokey, facetious, nature of the back-hand comments doesn't suit the serious nature of the content.
It would have been fine if they had been taken out, but I had to stop after a few chapters because I felt insulted.
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on 22 December 2012
This book is tremendous and I really enjoyed reading it. In addition to covering the Great War at O-Level many years ago, I've taken a keen interest in WWI and have read several books over the years. Through it's style and approach, this book adds a new dimension but without glossing over important events, facts and campaigns. It's absolutely clear that the author is an expert in his field and his enthusiasm and support for the services shines through.
An excellent read, useful prep for the upcoming anniversary in 2014 and IMO, it should be required reading for any students studying British and World History.
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on 1 February 2016
Good concise narrative and easy to read. Paints a very good picture of some of the decisive battles, without going into too much detail.
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on 26 August 2013
An excellent attempt to put the whole complex, hideously messy piece of history that we call WW1 into layman-speak. On the whole it works pretty well. As such, I REALLY hope it's read by the young folk of our world. Especially if it helps them gain an interest in, and start to understand, what the world went through 100 years ago; and how important it is that the mistakes made then are learned from, and not repeated.

If this book helps that process, then I can forgive the mis-spellings, poor grammar, omissions and minor mistakes in this book.
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on 19 April 2013
Last week Scott Addington very kindly sent me a copy of his new book World War One: a layman's guide, to review.
I was looking forward to this book because, whilst I have a real interest in the 1914-1918 war, I do find that some of the books that I've tackled assume a certain level of knowledge and can be quite heavy going. In his introduction, Scott acknowledges that a significant number of readers would like to know more about the conflict who find existing accounts inaccessible because they are `complicated/boring/dull/technical/long/heavy/difficult to understand' , and urges the reader to think of his book ` more like a conversation over a pint'.
This book comprises many short, well titled chapters, so whilst it is a fascinating read-through book in its own right, it is also really easy to dip in and out of to find something specific. I have to admit that I found the first chapter a little disconcerting, simply because it is so different to any other I've read - the writing style is informal from the start, and I worried that it would be irreverent; the first paragraph tells us about the alliance between France and Russia, and ends `If anything kicked off with either country, Germany would be facing a war on two fronts very quickly, which, let's be honest, was not an appealing prospect.' My concern was unfounded - I quickly got into the chat over a pint idea, and became absorbed in the book.
The chapters are broadly chronological, with diversions where appropriate to expand on different aspects of the war. The chapters on Bully Beef and Rats: life in the trenches, Metal Monsters: tanks and Mud are concerned with, and give a graphic introduction to, the daily discomforts of life at the front. Others look at the events leading up to the declaration of war, and some of the major offensives through to the Armistice of 1918. There is no place for the detail that you will find in some of the heavier tomes about the conflict, but this is a great, plain English, introduction to the war. I particularly liked the way that things were explained, and the fact that it is a relatively short book doesn't mean that there is any lack of information. Until now I had been somewhat confused over the terminology used as the British Army was expanded when the need for more men became apparent, but Scott's description makes it sound so straightforward! Similarly, though the battle descriptions are brief [a chapter is typically two or three pages] there is a wealth of information in terms of battle losses and artillery used.
The book ends, unsurprisingly, with a reference section. What a treat! Not for this man the staid old formatting of traditional referencing: Google is his main suggestion, followed by links to some cracking websites [most I use regularly, but a couple of new ones for me to try] then suggestions of further reading which this book will no doubt inspire in its readers. I took two sessions reading this book, the short chapters draw the reader on to see what happens next, and it is approaching the `unputdownable' category, but it will stay on the book shelf for dipping into as well, it is a superb introduction to the first world war, which would suit adults and young people alike. [And, for what it's worth, the author's tattoo is stunning!]
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on 4 February 2013
I chose geography rather than history at school. I didn't like the teacher - a dull, grey looking man who did very little to inspire the kids emerging yawning from his lessons every day. My Dad and brother would drag me reluctantly around war museums on holidays in France and Germany as a child, I learnt next to nothing about World War One...or Two in fact. It's not something that I really thought about, until the other day, at a family meal, when Mum started talking about her Grandad who had been sent into a gas chamber in the war, survived by some miracle, but never recovered fully. He did get to meet his grandchildren though, something many, many more didn't experience. It got me thinking - and searching on Amazon. I can't deny I was impressed by the price and the fact it seemed a lot shorter than the other 'guides' out there. I wanted to learn more but didn't want to get too bogged down in details of places, names etc as I knew it would just go over my head. However, during three trips to the gym I managed to read the whole book and actually feel capable of holding a decent conversation/debate about what led to World War One, what happened and what I think about it now, almost 100 years on. I think this book should be read by everyone who has a shockingly awful knowledge of what they call the Great War, because it happened, whether we like it or not, and the least we can do is try to understand it...even a bit.
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