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on 24 December 2016
excellent book and content excellent
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on 26 April 2017
Good illustrations,
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As a former soldier I am all too aware of the importance of good accurate maps. They are vital.
In the avalanche of books on the Great War those that deal with maps are very rare. In fact there are, in English, only 5 or 6 that can be recommended. This is one.

The author describes every suitable scale that was used in the war, highlighting their merits. Trench maps are fascinating. The crucial maps used by the artillery for ranging and target acquisition are discussed and described in great detail.

Chasseaud covers all the campaign theatres from the Western Front to Macedonia to Palestine. The war at sea is not forgotten nor the air war. He explains how the great improvement in literacy enabled people to read maps in order to locate themselves and to recognise land forms. As a result, demand for maps by 1900 increased significantly. Maps were produced for cyclists, Boy Scouts, the TA, car owners and flyers.

New printing technology is described. Powered presses and offset printing developed apace after 1910. As the war was an industrial war -the Germans called the Somme battle the Materialschlacht-mass production spread to maps. Many maps were used for propaganda. Information was manipulated and fed to newspapers. In part
this was to boost army morale. In 1918 over 1 million such maps were produced to show our front line for the benefit of the Germans! Many were air droppedover enemy lines. As Lt Col Jack said:'A map is a weapon'. It was
a crucial element in the search for intelligence , the order of battle and defence dispositions. As indirect fire by
artillery became the norm careful survey by triangulation became essential to fix positions and provide accurate
lne of fire. The war was an artillery war and therefore gunnery maps had to be accurate.

The author says the ' war was a war of maps'. Every country produced masses of them. In the key battles of late 1918 the gun was king and ' the theodolite and plane-table its unadvertised but indispensable ministers'.

The wealth of detail is staggering. For example, we learn that in 1918 729 officers and 4500 men were engaged on military surveying. The scale of Italian and German maps is given. Of particular interest are the details of Russian map making. Again we are given details of every map scale used in military operations.

A superb book of information which has previously been very hard to obtain.

Highly recommended for any one interested not just in the war but in the fascinating development of maps.

This excellent book by Peter Chasseaud is highly recommended.
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This is a peculiar book that doesn't really do "what it says on the cover". First, a couple of plus points - it is very heavily illustrated, and the production is excellent. There is barely a double page spread without at least one map or photograph, and several where the double is all map / photograph. Often, on full page illustrations, these run right to the edges of the page; no margin left; making maximum use of the space. I'd guess about half of the illustrations are maps of one sort or another, a quarter or so are aerial photographs, both vertical & oblique. The first minor criticism is that too many of the remaining photo's are the stock, over-used ones, such as the German officer in a pickelhaube reading the declaration of war to a crowd, or the dead German in a Somme trench whose head has been reduced to a skull (by rats, I've always presumed!).

A more serious criticism is that it's not really a book about mapping WWI, nor is it telling the story of the war through maps. What you have is an introduction of some dozen pages that describes the mapping techniques used, the main belligerents mapping organisations & how they evolved, and a few technical points & statistics. That's practically it. From that point, the remainder of the book is almost nothing more than a brief overview of the war; occasionally there'll be two or three paragraphs explaining advances in e.g. artillery registration or reconnaissance, which do relate to mapping. It is, otherwise, brief - consider how much of the space is taken up by illustrations (and it's a lot) and, at only 300 or so pages, it has little choice in the matter.

The next criticism is that there is, at times, a real disconnect between the maps & the text. Except that the book is ordered by years & campaigns & the illustrations belong to each chapter, there is next to no attempt to explain what you are looking at, or why they have been used. The captions bear little real information, and the text often bears no relation to the illustrations used at the point they appear. Finally, despite the large size of many illustrations, it is, often as not, difficult or impossible to make out any detail, hence my criticism that you often don't really understand what you're expected to get from the map. I see the kindle edition has been heavily criticised for the non-zoomable small size of the maps. Believe me, the book isn't a lot better. Even with a magnifying glass, you'd struggle to make out much detail on many maps.

A great example of all of this is P.114-5, where the text is talking about Mesopotamia. The latter is a full page map of the Baghdad-Karbala area. Most of P.114 is taken up with a detail from the same map, which is great, and also, since the text has just been talking about General Townshend's failed advance & the Siege of Kut (on the detail map), it all actually relates for a change... Except that's not quite true. It was only after squinting at P.115 (detail difficult to make out) & going back to the captions, that I realised that P.114 was map TC143, and P.115 was TC144 - different maps, and though both did bear an obvious relation to the text, that isn't always the case.

The book lacks two things - any real link between most of the text & the illustrations or the text & the title, and a dvd of zoomable full size maps, so that you can examine them properly. As a heavily illustrated overview history, it's not bad, but there are better overviews at better prices (although they don't concentrate on maps), and this doesn't really do what it claims to. If you want some maps & panoramic photographs, try Peter Barton's also IWM-endorsed Battlefields of WWI (not quite an accurate title), which does do what its sub-title says - Panoramas of the Western Front. It includes a dvd of zoomable panoramas too! I'm not displeased with my purchase of this book, but then I got mine in a sale for £6. At £20+, this is only OK i.e. 3*.
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on 13 April 2015
Quite disappointed really - I bought this book for the maps (after all, isn't that the title?) not the school-boy level history lesson. But the maps are so small that you really cannot see any detail.
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on 6 March 2014
I've instantly returned my purchase so can't comment on the text which may well be brilliant. I was looking forward to reading but I committed to the purchase price for the maps. Shame that the comments I read forgot to mention that many of the maps have no detail. Zooming in the placenames are largely unreadable, everything is a fuzz, awful. This is true of all the large maps in the first few chapters. Some of the smaller maps are zoomable so that you can read placenames but overall and given quite a hefty price this is a poor show for the digital version. In my view the maps should have been scanned again for the digital version so that they are viewable as maps or the publicity for the book should clarify that the maps are illustrated but not included as maps.
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on 3 April 2015
Not really a book containing nothing but maps, but more a "History of WWI, with supporting maps & photographs". There is some interesting background to the use of maps, printing them and cartography generally, and some of the "lesser" campaigns are quite well described, however the title is a bit of a misnomer. As an example, there is a full page picture of a "propaganda" map of Africa with a black line scrawl round large sections, showing "the extent of Germany's intentions" - although that particular "map" has some amusing annotations, Then, a few pages later, there is another, full page, photograph of a tank in Palestine with lots of troops in pith helmets looking at it. That's not a map!

It's a good quality book, well researched, history of WWI first and foremost, but not a book showing dispositions of troops etc for battles.
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As a layman with a keen interest in history, I was attracted to this book as I thought it would give me a more dispassionate overview of the War, expecting a mass of emotion, documentaries and the like in this centenary year. Well, Dr Chasseaud certainly delivers - a magnificently assembled, presented and described collection which interweaves historical, military, propaganda and geographical themes through high quality scholarship. I particularly appreciated the coverage of the (to me) less well-known 1918 campaigns, culminating in the evocative map showing the Order of Battle in Northern France dated 11am on the 11th November. Highly recommended as a companion to other books or TV documentaries, and if, as other reviewers suggest, there are other facets (e.g. mud maps) which haven't been featured in the book, I'm up for a second volume!
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on 10 February 2014
I have already used the National Records to obtain maps of some parts of the western front that I have studied more closely. Here is an opportunity to see more. Extremely interesting. A recommended buy for anyone with an interest in the period.
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on 14 April 2014
This publication lives up to all my expectations. Fascinating maps with complementary photographs, all set in context. A long term reference which will continue to provide enjoyable reading
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