Top critical review
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on 1 December 2015
The thing one has to remember about Max Hastings is that he is a journalist turned historian - in other words, the truth should not (on the whole) be allowed to spoil a good story. He fell flat in a big way over his Normandy book -the regt which ran away was 6 DOW not the Tyneside Scottish - different battles too!) - also over the Oradour massacre in his work on 2 SS - Das Reich.
I think the quality of his work on this book is better but we still get traditional Hastings gems - like the completion of the Ludendorf Bridge (aka the railway Bridge at Remagen) in 1914 was one of the factors encouraging Germany to go to war. But according to other sources, It was not even begun until 1916 - and completion was not until after 1920.
Wherever does Hastings get these zany ideas?
However the book is a good read, and as long as you don`t expect the standards of a professional historian, it`s also very informative.
The appalling suffering inflicted on the Serbs by the Austro-Hungarians, and the miserable incompetence of the latter in trying medieval standards on their own population is vivid. Nobody reading Hasting`s account can easily avoid the conclusion that the Austro-Hungarian Empire was a casualty of the First World War deserving of no grief.
My criticisms perhaps should be reviewed by someone with a better knowledge of WW1 - but on the whole I do not think anyone purchasing this book will regret it.