Top critical review
One person found this helpful
Comprehensive but ultimately untouching account of WWI
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.