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VINE VOICEon 3 November 2014
This is a another, albeit recent, volume in the already crowded range of books about the First World War. What marks it out from the rest is that Strachan takes something of a revisionist line on the conflict - the 'new' of the title - and also writes extremely openly for an academic historian making the text accessible and lively whilst being incisive and rigorous with his sources and arguments. One early example of the 'new' approach is that Strachan problematises the figures usually given for deaths during the 1WW, not to challenge the fact that very many people were of course killed, but to illustrate the ways in which historians and others have 'constructed' the history of the 1WW, including the mortality figures. I am enjoying reading this book but, as Strachan points out, our understanding of the 1WW will continue to develop and be disputed - there is no 'true' history of it.
An added benefit in the Kindle version is that one can quickly move to and from maps and see the illustrations very clearly without excessive leafing through what is a large book
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on 13 March 2015
Until recently my knowledge of the First World War was pretty minimal, but buoyed on by the various centenary commemorations and the knowledge that one of my relatives died fighting in Belgium, I decided to seek out a readable yet comprehensive history of the conflict. Compared to some of the longer tomes on WWI, Hew Strachan's account is a snip at just over 300 pages and is divided into 10 chapters that are almost self contained essays on different aspects of the war. Despite this relative brevity, the narrative is awash with detail. If this type comprehensive approach is what you are after, then look no further. If, like myself, you have little or no prior knowledge on the war, this can be overwhelming at times (not least due to the complex reasons that lead to the outbreak of war in 1914 and the conflicting agendas within the two alliances throughout). For my own purposes, I felt that this highbrow political narrative and military strategy was too far removed from the personal experiences of those affected by the war. I would have preferred more anecdotal evidence, personal accounts that would have fleshed out Strachan's thoroughly researched detail. In fairness to the author, it was probably not his intention to get side-tracked from the major events of the war and the men who dictated its path, but for me this resulted in a fairly aloof account that fails to touch the reader with the experiences of the millions who either died or were affected by this conflict.
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on 22 April 2015
An excellent WW1 overview. The author suggests that the much vaunted evacuation story was to some extent told to salvage the reputation of the Allies. Whilst he rightly concludes it was hardly in the Turks' interest to prolong the departure of the Allies there is no suggestion in the diaries of the Ottoman Commanders (including Von Sanders) that the Allied deception plan was not as successful as claimed. Indeed some Ottoman artillery engagements on the Allies did take place within two weeks of the Allies' final departure. Maybe the Turks did realise towards the end but it would be wrong to conclude from Prof Strachan's wording that the Turks sat back and allowed the Allies to withdraw unhindered.
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on 11 April 2014
With the centenary upon us if you're look for facts, and I mean ACCURATE facts (lots of the shows and articles about are misled) then read this. Hew was my tutor for this course at Oxford and he REALLY knows his stuff. The chronology is a little hard to follow in places as he jumps between the fronts, but I still think it's a worthy read and gives you everything you need to know
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on 26 November 2014
A very sure-footed account of the war - its origins, waging, and aftermath - dealing also in significant detail with several 'eastern' and 'southern' fronts not usually so covered in works by Anglo-Saxon historians. Likewise, an enlightening treatment of the war at sea including the details and effects of the Allied naval blockade. Refreshing in its highlighting of attitudes to the war at the time, in contradistinction to feelings and perceptions of it years or decades later. If I have a criticism, it would be that the coverage of the economic, social, scientific and cultural effects - both contemporary and for the longer-term - seems, relatively speaking, a bit light. It is primarily a military, political and diplomatic history, with other aspects not so much neglected as treated well-nigh exclusively for their effects on the political and military course of the war.
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on 21 July 2014
A thorough, non- partisan factual history of the events which led to war and a bird's -eye view of the strategic, tactical and political decisions that shaped the outcome. In The final chapter on the conflicting attitudes in Germany, and in the victorious Entente allies to the Armistice Huw Strachan makes a strong case for how far these led to subsequent conflicts , not only the Second World War but the divisions and hatreds that are still making headlines in 2014. Palestine, Israel, Syria, Iraq , the Balkans and Easternj Europe's problems are the children of the attempts to settle the world's maps. political systems in 1919.
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on 21 August 2014
Studying for a Masters degree on the First World War you read hundreds of hefty and light texts that cover parts of the First World War, or the whole thing. For anyone taking a serious look at this conflict and wants the historians objective take on events, in a readable form, then this is the must have book.
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on 10 December 2015
Brilliant. I wanted to understand the First World War from a political perspective without the emotional noise of patriotism or through the lens of the great war poets. This fulfils that prescription.
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on 29 June 2014
If you are looking for facts and figures of WWl then this is for you. Very well documented, but at times hard to digest, not what you would describe as bed side reading, more for the purist, but if you can stay with it "a well worth read."
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on 11 January 2015
A very well written book with plenty of explanations as to wwhat was happening on all sides in the conflict. I enjoyed it even more due to the author not restriciting himeself to the Western Front, but llooking at all the theatres of the war, some obviously in more detail than others, but that is to be expected. Well worth reading.
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