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on 4 June 2015
An excellent introduction for the layman.

Addressing an oft-neglected period of of the Great War, Norman Stone provides us with a concise narrative of some of the war's most brutal campaigns. With an impressive array of facts and figures, he debunks the myth of Tsarist Russia being unable to wage total war, debunks the myth of Ludendorff as a military genius, and highlights how the February revolution of 1917 in Russia, was not brought about by mass conscription or severe food shortage, but rather a failure of the authorities to move food from the countryside to the city.

Stone also address another curious factor, the relatively static lines of the Eastern front. Unlike the Western front, the great expanse of the east provided ample room for manoeuvre and great break-through, but as Stone points out, the mobility wasn't there (the combustion engine was still in its infancy) and cavalry were next to useless at exploiting breakthroughs (modern firepower meant that even a squad off men could see off a cavalry troop)

The book suffers slightly from the author's inability to decide whether or not he's writing a military history of the eastern front, or a military history of the Russian army during this period, and this halfway house approach is evident in the latter chapters. Some more information about the Austro-Hungarians would have been welcome.

Despite this, this remains a classic of the genre.
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on 22 October 2014
I ordered this book part way through Fritz Fischer's Germany's Aims in the First World War when I realised my lack of knowledge about the Eastern Front in World War One was hampering my understanding of Fischer's book. I needed a comprehensive but concise history of the war in the east and decided on Stone's 1975 classic as, nearly forty years after it was written, it is still acknowledged to be the best account of the conflict.

Well-written, if slightly dry, I certainly learnt a lot from it and found it reasonably interesting. However, if I'm honest, it was perhaps a little too academic for my needs and, with hindsight, the textbook style of Neiberg and Jordan's The Eastern Front 1914 - 1920 might have been more suitable for me. I also thought it was a little too Russian-focused in its coverage with too much detail about Russia and not enough about the Central Powers.

Still, if you like Norman Stone [and I do] then, although this is one of his earliest works, there is plenty of evidence here of the humorous, anecdotal-rich style of historical writing for which he is now famous and I'm sure anyone with more than a passing interest in the subject matter would find it a worthwhile read.
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on 21 March 2016
Very, very dryly written, with a heavy emphasis on facts, figures and a broad, strategic depth, Stone does the reader the courtesy of assuming a serious interest in his subject matter, and wastes no time with unnecessary fluff or redundant explanation, getting straight to matters of record, hard numbers, and clear sighted analysis.

The book is, at times, very slow going, and rightly so; it is a theater of war of dehumanising scale, scope and time, dominated by grand strategy and lengthy maneuvere.
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on 18 May 2017
A good single volume account of the almost forgotten fact that there was an Eastern Front in the First World War. My only quibble is the use of modern place names, which makes for easier use of modern maps when following the various campaigns but can (does) cause confusion when using other sources which use the original Prussian or Austrian place names rather than modern day Polish ones. Modern (original) names would have been more useful.
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on 31 January 2008
I will not comment in detail as a previous review has summarised extremely well.

What I would say is that the overall book works very well for all aspects of the Russian Front, although mostly from the Russian side. The German and Austro-Hungarian side is fairly sparse.

My one criticism is that at times the 'story' seems to jump through some fairly major events and I ended up rereading parts to check that I had not missed anything (which I had not) - the major item that springs to mind for this is the evacuation of Poland following Gorlice-Tannow (spelling). The whole episode is, more or less, summed up in a couple of sentances, which for me, was not sufficient given what the books topic is.

Still very very much a worthwhile book - it is a fascinating insight against those who view warfare through just 'numbers' and 'materiale' - those two are just not enough to achieve anything.
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on 15 July 2015
I'm half way through this at the moment and it's an interesting read. It well documents the idiocy and appalling leadership on all sides in the first world war. I'd have to agree with the author's own comments in the updated introduction that it does lack any human touch. But still recommended.
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on 17 August 2017
... and full of blatant factual mistakes

not sure what he did all those years he supposedly spent in the Austrian archives, there little information about the Austrian side except long enumerations of stereotypes about Slavs ... outside of that most of the book is a sarcastic retelling of the Russian part in the war.

easy to read though, sometimes amusing

the text in itself is not worth the money, only the bibliography
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on 9 May 2018
I bought this on behalf of a relation and am unable, therefore, to make a valid comment about the book. However, I am led to believe it is a very good publication
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on 29 June 2017
Very good read although the subject matter is very depressing. I was pleased to learn about a largely-ignored aspect of the 'Great' War.
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on 11 January 2018
Ok so it is full of information but I have found it very turgid. Difficult to understand quite what is going on without more maps and those maps that are given are impossible to read given the poor quality of paper and print.
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