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Customer reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
1914-1918: The History of the First World War
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on 24 December 2016
Very detailed and interesting, I learnt a lot, in particular about how the war ended. Just found it a bit of slog to get through.
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on 28 February 2006
I thought this a magnificent book. Its 600 pages are written in crystal clear English, covering the political, economic and military aspects of the War. The major campaigns of this global conflict are all well described, as is life on the home fronts of the Allies and the Central Powers. The origins are well described, while the chapters on the aftermath are particularly helpful. I recommend it strongly to those wishing to read a comprehensive history of the conflict for the first time, while those who have read other works on the War will find many new perspectives here. This book is superb value.
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on 24 May 2017
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on 9 August 2008
It's hard work reading this book. It's over 600 closely-typed pages long and it can be daunting to turn a page and be met with such dense text and hardly a break. However, I found myself engrossed nearly all the time.

As other reviewers have mentioned, this books deals witht the war mainly at a strategic and political level. It's not always easy to follow and I could have easily gone back and re-read bits a few times, but I decided not to do that. Having finished the book, I may have trouble recalling parts in detail for example, what Ludendorff and Hindenburg's titles were, and I'd have to look them up in the index and re-read, but I also feel that I've learnt a significant amount about this war. I feel well-placed now to either read other books, re-read this book, view DVDs or read about the Second World War.

The First World War was a collosal event and I'm sure reading one book doesn't do it justice but there is no doubt in my mind that my understanding has taken a leap forward!
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on 28 September 2012
The author approaches his theme by using a succession of different themes rather than a linear narrative. This leads to a lot of duplication in the text which gets a bit dull as you plough through the book. You tend to get the same facts repeated in each section without ever expanding on the information given. The curious result of this is a book that manages to be both reasonably shallow, but longwinded with it.
An impressive bibliography has been assembled but the author never quotes from any of his sources or provides any first hand information from the numerous contemporary documents he refers to in his descriptions.
Over all a 'miss' in my opinion.
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on 2 January 2009
1914-1918: The History of the First World War

I bought this book knowing nothing much about the First World War. I had heard of the Somme, Ypres, Passchendale, but not much else. I knew its beginnings originated with the assassination of the archduke in Serbia, but not how that came to start such a massive conflict or why it lasted so long.

I now feel that I have a much better understanding of these and so many other elements of the war in what is a fantastically detailed and well-researched book. It includes all the stages of the war; from the reasons for the start, major phases in the war when the Central Powers were in the ascendancy, the Russian withdrawal and the involvement of America, through to the after-effects on world politics and economics.

However, for a first read about such a major episode it was too detailed with many facts and figures about the number of shells fired/produced etc. This is not to detract from the book which is excellent, it is just to say that, if, like me, you know very little about the First World War, then perhaps you will find this book a little heavy going and difficult to read.

That said, I will be keeping hold of the book so that I can go over sections of it now I have a better general understanding of the war, its major characters, the politics and battles.
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on 15 April 2008
1914-1918: The History of the First World War is a very readable and very interesting book. It provides interesting analysis and conclusions and does not stick to the usual arguments you hear about the First World War. It also benefits from dealing with all the areas of conflict (at least partially) and all the main protagonists, however, its primary focus is still the Western Front. Unlike The Pity of War by Niall Ferguson it has a much better structure which makes it much more accessible and Stevenson does argue his case much better. All in all a very good book which deals with both the causes, the events and the aftermath of the First World War and does not stick to the usual arguments but instead offers interesting insights and new evaluations.
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on 4 January 2009
If you think that the European powers stumbled into the Great War by accident; that the generals were numbskulls who learned nothing from the slaughter on the Somme or at Verdun; or that the sudden collapse of Germany in 1918 owed little to British and French efforts, then read this book and think again.

This is a superb history of World War One, clearly written and comprehensive in its scope. Stevenson is clear that the origins of the war were not accidental. Politicians on both sides had choices and they chose war or the threat of war as preferable to the alternatives. In particular Austria-Hungary and Germany wanted a war in the Balkans and were willing to risk its escalation into a general European war.

This isn't a purely military history, although there are enough military details to understand why in the central years of the war defence usually prevailed over attack and neither side was able to achieve a decisive breakthrough on the Western Front. Stephenson shows how military tactics evolved on both sides and while the new weapons of tanks, gas and aircraft played a part, the decisive innovations were in the co-ordination of artillery with infantry.

Stevenson shows how the Allies were able to mobilise their greater economic resources and enforce the blockade of Germany and translate these into a military superiority that was able to absorb the Ludendorff offensives in early 1918 and then break the German resistance in Flanders. In this, the repeated willingness of Germany to risk all on further military initiatives brought about its own defeat. The decision to adopt unrestricted submarine warfare in 1917 brought the USA into the war. The 1918 offensives broke the German army while ultimately failing to break the Allies.

This is an impressive book that changed my views on the origins and conduct of the war.
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on 8 September 2009
I am now on my second reading of this book and am discovering facts missed the first time around. This is a very thorough book which must have taken many years of research.
I am no achademic but recognise the quality of the information coupled with an easily read text, crammed full of information. Arguments or suggestions for actions taken by different players in the conflict are well put and thought provoking. A thoroughly enjoyable book.
How I wish I had been taught history by the Author David Stevenson.
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on 18 August 2010
If you want the entire history of World War 1 in one book this is it, from the small political events to shot that was heard around the world that eventually ignited the powderkeg of Europe and started the bloodiest and worst led war the world had known. Seems amazing that the end would point the way for Germany to elect Hitler to power to satify their need for justice (Justified need in my view after the unfair Versailles treaty). If your thinking this will be a labarious read think again, it's well put together and flows neatly. Enjoy and afterwards a handy reference to reach for when a question arises. You wont see this book seconhand many places due to that fact alone.
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