Having previously read A.J.P.Taylors book "The First World War" I found Keegan's account preferable. They are both overviews, (the reader looking for detailed accounts of for example the Gallipolli landings or the sea war needs to look elsewhere) but Keegan writes in a more straightforward style without Taylor's cute and irritating comments and he explains in clearer terms the reason for the German defeat.
As he says (referring to the situation in July 1918), "Merely to make good loses suffered in the attacks so far, the German high command calculated, required 200.000 replacements each month but, even by drawing on the next annual class of eighteen year olds, only 300.000 recruits stood available." They just couldn't take the vast human losses involved in this new type of warfare.
Drawbacks to the book are his view that the First World War " ... destroyed the benevolent and optimistic culture of the European continent...", which has to be a doubtful statement. The rickety Austro-Hungarian empire was benevolent but certainly not optimistic and it lay at the root of the problem. A closer look in Brigitte Hamann's book, " Hitler's Vienna, A Dictator's Apprenticeship" reveals the chaotic nationalist, communist and racial polarization that was breaking the Empire apart and generating WW1 (and WW2).
He also contradicts himself, saying that, "Most of the accusations against the generals of the Great War - incompetence and incomprehension foremost among them - may therefore be seen to be misplaced." and, "Nothing in human affairs is predestinable, least of all in an exchange of energy as fluid and dynamic as a battle." while at the same time showing that;
- They (the generals) knew that the Germans had deep bunkers. If they had tested their main strategy of intensive bombardment they would have found that most remained undamaged.
- If they had tested the effects of shelling on barbed wire they would have found that it mostly remained impassable. Again not what they assumed.
- They had seen the tremendous loss of life in attack but didn't consider building approach trenches to the German lines reducing the width of non-man's land as Brusilov did in Russia.
- They didn't think through the effect of the 10 minute delay between the lifting their artillery bombardment and the initiation of an attack . It allowed the Germans to lift machine guns from their deep bunkers and have them set up and ready.
I don't see how Keegan can exempt the Allied generals from blame while at the same time illustrating failures that could have been anticipated with testing and thought.