The First World War

Hew Strachan

Book - 2004

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New York : Viking 2004.
Physical Description
364 p. : ill
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Main Author
Hew Strachan (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

One merely has to read daily newspaper accounts of current conflicts in the Balkans or Middle East to confirm that the effects of World War I are still unfolding. Strachan, a history professor at Oxford University, is currently writing a scholarly three-volume history of the war. This work, geared for the general reader, utilizes a traditional narrative approach, but Strachan also provides interesting sidelights that focus on such topics as French treatment of deserters and the attitudes and efforts of African colonial troops. Strachan doesn't shy away from the question of "war guilt." He clearly regards the war as a pan-European blunder, but he also indicts Germany for efforts to upset the European states system that had endured since the Congress of Vienna in 1815. This is a concise, well-written account of the causes, course, and effects of a shattering conflict. Text complemented by maps and rarely seen photographs. ((Reviewed March 15, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

World War I: how it was fought, why it was fought, and what the consequences were. From an Oxford historian. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

With this superbly written survey, Strachan (Chichele Professor of the History of War, All Souls Coll., Oxford Univ.), a noted authority on this frequently misunderstood but critically important conflict, will provide the scholar and the interested reader alike with a suitable starting point for study. Ninety years since it began, Strachan details the important factors behind World War I, covers the major ground and naval campaigns and battles, and assesses the roles of leading officers and statesmen while simultaneously highlighting the home fronts and the non-European aspects of this cataclysmic event. The coverage is what one would expect from a survey, but the consistently superior writing separates this volume from its competitors. The photographs, many of which will be new to even the most devoted specialist, deserve special mention. General surveys of wars and campaigns are common in all types of libraries, but finely crafted works such as this merit our attention. While Strachan doesn't knock the recent superb efforts of John Keegan and Niall Ferguson off the shelves, he adds another excellent narrative history to the growing recent literature on the Great War. Strongly recommended for academic and public libraries.-John R. Vallely, Siena Coll. Lib., Loudonville, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Compact, well-illustrated, and accessible. A fine source for lay readers and those seeking a refresher. (LJ 4/1/04) [Page 53]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

One of the leading historians of WWI offers this superior one-volume version of his massive projected three-volume work, the first volume of which, To Arms, clocked in at 1250-plus pages last year. Strachan strenuously avoids the traditional focus on the Western Front (and the British) and the conventional assumptions of generals' stupidity and soldiers' valor. The war as he sees it was a race among generals on all sides to create new weapons and tactics faster than their opponents, a race that the Triple Entente won. It was also a race among soldiers to fight with these new weapons and tactics instead of raw courage and numbers wherever possible. Yet Russia and the Dual Monarchy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire were totally unfit for a large modern war (one reason the czar and his empire fell in 1917) and were a source of fatal weakness to Germany's alliance even before Italy changed sides. The political background (including the rising consciousness of colonial nationalities conscripted for the war), social consequences and diplomatic finagling all face an equal amount of revision, leaving the book organized more thematically than chronologically. Readers already familiar with the sequence of events in strict order will benefit most. But all readers will eventually be gripped, and even the most seasoned ones will praise the insights and the original choice of illustrations. This is likely to be the most indispensable one-volume work on the subject since John Keegan's First World War, and will draw serious readers to the larger work. Five city author tour. (On sale Apr. 26) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Adult/High School-Strachan provides a comprehensive and gripping account of one of the most bloody and important wars in human history, bringing to readers a reality beyond its grim reputation. His greatest contribution is to restore the worldwide dimension to this conflict, for it was a war that was fought in Africa, the Middle East, the Pacific, and Eastern Europe, as well as in Western Europe. Furthermore, he shows the widespread effects of the war wherever it was fought, and he delineates the meaning the conflict had for its combatants. Some of his judgments might be debatable, but his accomplishment with this book is not. Well written and well illustrated with photographs, the volume lifts readers' eyes from the mud of Flanders.-Ted Westervelt, Library of Congress, Washington, DC Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A hard-hitting, single-volume history of the "Great War" explores the causes and consequences of this global conflict, while tracing its continual reverberations throughout world history almost a century later. 60,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A history of the Great War explores the causes and consequences of this global conflict, while tracing its continual reverberations throughout world history almost a century later.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Ninety years have passed since the outbreak of the First World War, yet as military historian Hew Strachan argues in this brilliant and authoritative new book, the legacy of the "war to end all wars" is with us still. A truly global conflict from the start, the war and many of its most decisive battles were fought in or directly affected the Balkans, Africa, and the Ottoman Empire. Even more than the Second World War, the First World War continues to shape the politics and international relations of our world, especially in hot spots such as the Middle East and the Balkans.Drawing on material culled from many countries, Strachan offers a fresh perspective on how the war not only redrew the map of the world but also set in motion the most dangerous conflicts of today.