Top positive review
World War 1 History indeed...
8 March 2011
A. J. P. Taylor was one of the most acclaimed and controversial historians of the twentieth century. Here he writes a classic account of the first World War from the German invasion of France via Belgium and the resulting stagnant trench warfare on the Western front to the Russian disasters on the Eastern front. He also covers Gallipoli, the Balkans and the war at sea along with every other major campaign during the war. He amply covers the apparent senseless slaughter of the trenches and employs the traditional viewpoint of senseless generals sending brave men to their deaths in their hundreds of thousands. It is more than a military history book however as Taylor also analyses the political and social history of the main protagonists in great detail. Far from just covering the war from the perspective of the great loss of human life it becomes more of an analysis of the concept of total war and social change in the first truly industrial global war.
Taylor's book has attained quite a scholarly following in history circles. It is well researched, very accurate in detail and well written. His viewpoints are quite thought provoking but they do mirror quite accurately the viewpoints of modern historians. Some may disagree with this comment but after doing a modern history degree three years ago, the subject matter I read for this period did not detract that much from Taylor's viewpoints. I was actually surprised to find this so seeing as the book is around thirty plus years old and if there was a conflict of detail between Taylor's book and my course material then it certainly provoked a stimulating but often inconclusive debate!
I would say that overall Taylor's book is a classic of its time; it's a great read full of interesting detail about all aspects of the First World War I enjoyed it immensely but I would point out that you would be best put to read other history books covering this period for a better comparative understanding of the period.