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The First World War: A Complete History

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It was to be the war to end all wars, and it began at 11:15 on the morning of June 28, 1914, in an outpost of the Austro-Hungarian Empire called Sarajevo. It would end officially almost five years later. Unofficially, it has never ended: the horrors we live with today were born in the First World War. It left millions-civilians and soldiers-maimed or dead. And it left us wi It was to be the war to end all wars, and it began at 11:15 on the morning of June 28, 1914, in an outpost of the Austro-Hungarian Empire called Sarajevo. It would end officially almost five years later. Unofficially, it has never ended: the horrors we live with today were born in the First World War. It left millions-civilians and soldiers-maimed or dead. And it left us with new technologies of death: tanks, planes, and submarines; reliable rapid-fire machine guns and field artillery; poison gas and chemical warfare. It introduced us to U-boat packs and strategic bombing, to unrestricted war on civilians and mistreatment of prisoners. Most of all, it changed our world. In its wake, empires toppled, monarchies fell, whole populations lost their national identities as political systems, and geographic boundaries were realigned. Instabilities were institutionalized, enmities enshrined. And the social order shifted seismically. Manners, mores, codes of behavior; literature and the arts; education and class distinctions-all underwent a vast sea change. And in all these ways, the twentieth century can be said to have been born on the morning of June 28, 1914.


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It was to be the war to end all wars, and it began at 11:15 on the morning of June 28, 1914, in an outpost of the Austro-Hungarian Empire called Sarajevo. It would end officially almost five years later. Unofficially, it has never ended: the horrors we live with today were born in the First World War. It left millions-civilians and soldiers-maimed or dead. And it left us wi It was to be the war to end all wars, and it began at 11:15 on the morning of June 28, 1914, in an outpost of the Austro-Hungarian Empire called Sarajevo. It would end officially almost five years later. Unofficially, it has never ended: the horrors we live with today were born in the First World War. It left millions-civilians and soldiers-maimed or dead. And it left us with new technologies of death: tanks, planes, and submarines; reliable rapid-fire machine guns and field artillery; poison gas and chemical warfare. It introduced us to U-boat packs and strategic bombing, to unrestricted war on civilians and mistreatment of prisoners. Most of all, it changed our world. In its wake, empires toppled, monarchies fell, whole populations lost their national identities as political systems, and geographic boundaries were realigned. Instabilities were institutionalized, enmities enshrined. And the social order shifted seismically. Manners, mores, codes of behavior; literature and the arts; education and class distinctions-all underwent a vast sea change. And in all these ways, the twentieth century can be said to have been born on the morning of June 28, 1914.

30 review for The First World War: A Complete History

  1. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    I believe that this is as definitive a history as you can get of the First World War. Though some may complain that it does not focus on this or that aspect, such as the battles and military fortunes of the war itself, or of the political and diplomatic side, or that it focuses too much on the British perspective, I believe that there are few books as through a history of the First World War. Martin Gilbert is the greatest living historian on Twentieth Century history. The subject on the prelude t I believe that this is as definitive a history as you can get of the First World War. Though some may complain that it does not focus on this or that aspect, such as the battles and military fortunes of the war itself, or of the political and diplomatic side, or that it focuses too much on the British perspective, I believe that there are few books as through a history of the First World War. Martin Gilbert is the greatest living historian on Twentieth Century history. The subject on the prelude to war describes the political struggles just prior to the war, and puts the most of the blame on Austria-Hungary and Germany. Serbia could not accept the conditions demanded by Austria for peace, after the assassination by Gavrilo Principe of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The author describes the human dimension of the conflict and that of many British soldiers and their memoirs and poetry are speciality of this volume. also painfully apparent is the Armenian genocide, the first great genocide of the 20th century in which over a million Armenian men, women and children were barbarously slaughtered in a Ottoman attempt to end the movement for self-determination of that nation. Gilbert covers the First World War careers of people who later became the giants of the Second World War such as Hitler, Mussolini and Winston Churchill. We discover that the officer who recommended Hitler for the Iron Cross was in fact Jewish and that far from the Nazi claims of the Jews stabbing Germany in the back, 100s of thousands of Jews served in the German army during the war, and 10 000 Jews died in German uniform. Jewish industrialist and leader Walter Rathenau ( a moderate and opponents of radical Socialism, later assassinated by the Nazis) played a leading role in putting Germany's economy on a war footing, enabling wartime Germany to continue its war effort for years despite the serious shortages of labor and raw materials that were caused by an ever-tightening naval blockade. While there were unfortunately a significant amount of Jewish Communists, it is equally significant that the German Imperial Government during the First world War, financed and helped build up the Bolshevik movement and injected Lenin like a bacillus into Russia in order to neutralize Russia's effectiveness in the war, , and succeeded only too well Focusing on the middle Eastern theatre , the book illustrates how the national aspirations of Jews for a re-established homeland in the Holy Land, and of the Arabs for a pan-Arab super state were given momentum by the events of the First World War. The book focuses on the aftermath of the war and of the harsh Treaty of Versailles in which Germany was bitterly punished laying the seeds for the rise of Nazism and extremism in Germany, and allowing a demagogue like Hitler to take advantage of massive disenchantment. The book does however neglect the war in Africa in which Germany lost her African empire. Ultimately another monumental and thorough history by Martin Gilbert, as always focusing on the human side,

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tony

    Martin Gilbert has an interesting way of writing history. He provides little or no explanation or analysis. Instead he gives an almost day-by-day account, a constant flow of facts and first hand accounts, full of interesting footnotes and names that you might recognise. Alongside the usual suspects we hear from a variety of witnesses before they were famous, including James Callaghan, Clement Attlee, De Gaulle, Rommel, Goering, Valentine Flemming (father of Ian) and a certain Corporal Hitler. Gil Martin Gilbert has an interesting way of writing history. He provides little or no explanation or analysis. Instead he gives an almost day-by-day account, a constant flow of facts and first hand accounts, full of interesting footnotes and names that you might recognise. Alongside the usual suspects we hear from a variety of witnesses before they were famous, including James Callaghan, Clement Attlee, De Gaulle, Rommel, Goering, Valentine Flemming (father of Ian) and a certain Corporal Hitler. Gilbert’s approach won’t suit everyone. Sometimes you travel from the Eastern front to Gallipoli within a single paragraph. It’s probably not the first book you should read if you really want to understand why. And then there’s the poetry. But somehow the resulting mosaic builds into a remarkable picture, not just of what happened, but also an insight into what it might actually have been like. I found it hugely informative and a fantastic record of the Great War.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Evan

    Even as the epic Battle of the Somme in the second half of 1916 was winding down and Britain began tallying its incomprehensible 420,000 casualties from what would seem to be a Pyrrhic victory, the press continued feeding the British public propaganda balm. A reporter for the London Daily Mirror, observing a dead British soldier in the field, wrote, rather perplexingly: "Even as he lies on the field he looks more quietly faithful, more simply steadfast than others." Even in death, it seems, a Br Even as the epic Battle of the Somme in the second half of 1916 was winding down and Britain began tallying its incomprehensible 420,000 casualties from what would seem to be a Pyrrhic victory, the press continued feeding the British public propaganda balm. A reporter for the London Daily Mirror, observing a dead British soldier in the field, wrote, rather perplexingly: "Even as he lies on the field he looks more quietly faithful, more simply steadfast than others." Even in death, it seems, a Britisher never lost that stiff upper lip and his saintliness compared to the corpses of the enemy. A very much living British officer on the front, reading that account, expressed his disdain for such tosh in a letter home: "He has drawn well on his imagination, as half of it is not true, but just what he thought it would be like." Like the American Civil War, the First World War was a war written about in letters, diaries and, perhaps even more fulsomely, poetry. Sir Martin Gilbert in his ambitious kaleidoscopic tapestry of this mammoth war has quoted quite a bit of this writing liberally, and well, in humanizing a war that often devolves into discussions of mere political and military strategy. The book touts itself as a "complete history" of the war, an impossible claim to make even if it spanned multiple volumes rather than one. But as a one-volume work, I can't imagine a more complete account being possible. The book tries to cover so many incidents, so many centers of interest, so many participants, on the ground and in the ivory towers of power, that it can get a bit disorienting. The whole thing feels like a moving target; nothing is lingered over, and Gilbert is on to the next thing. One paragraph may be talking about the Marne on the Western Front in France and in the next two graphs he whisks you off to the Congo in Africa or off to the Dardanelles and Gallipoli in Turkey. At first, this can feel a bit overwhelming, as if Gilbert wrote the entire thing on index cards and strung them together on an endless row of tape and had a secretary transcribe the entire shebang in linear, chronological order. As it moves along, though, this strategy pays off, building in power and gravitas as one's understanding increases. By the end, I realized what a triumph Gilbert had achieved. World War I is still shocking, even considering the many horrors that followed in the next hundred years, and including the Second World War that this war set the stage for. It's almost impossible to imagine anyone surviving any of this: the shells, the poison gas, the filthy conditions of the trenches, the over-the-top suicidal charges into rapid-fire weapons. Gilbert does a tremendous job providing a vast picture of an insanely complex conflict, one that even the most informed historians still struggle to explain. Although this is largely a linear collection of incidents, Gilbert sometimes moves outside of the timeline in poetic ways, to suggest the lingering memory of the conflict. This passage is a prime example: "Yet for every victorious headline there was a sombre subtext. Four days before the offensive was renewed, the Newfoundland officer Hedley Goodyear, who had led his men in the attack on August 8, wrote to his mother: ‘Don’t worry about me. I’m Hun-proof.’ He was killed by a sniper between Lihons and Chaulnes. His photograph, showing him in uniform, stood on his fiancée’s mantelpiece for the next fifty years." Yeah, that's heartbreaking. I think I came up with a couple of new heroes from this book, the British soldier-poet Wilfred Owen, whose verses pretty much kicked the ass the other other well-meaning, but maudlin, efforts of the other soldier poets quoted here, and Edith Cavell, a nurse shot by the Germans, who vowed to treat any battlefield casualty regardless of nationality. Interestingly, British Prime Minister David Lloyd-George rather ominously suggested future war if German reparations were too harsh. As he wrote in a famous memorandum at the end of the war: "...the maintenance of peace will depend upon there being no causes of exasperation constantly stirring up either the spirit of patriotism, of justice, or of fair play, to achieve redress..." Boy, did he nail that one. The deal is this. The book is jam-packed with facts, possibly too many for easy digestion. It's neither dryly analytical/academic, nor novelistic in the grand way, like a Beevor or a Toland -- not terribly scintillating as prose. It sticks to events, large and small, and largely eschews overarching analysis of causes and strategies of the kind found in, say, John Keegan's book on the war (see my recent review of that). That said, the book is pretty awesome, if you can handle it and stick with it. Reading this, I learned a hell of a lot, and have a much deeper understanding of World War I, a conflict, that, somewhat regrettably, it has taken me too long to finally dive into. Now I feel like I'm on solid ground for more. Is this a five-star book? Probably not. Four stars is probably more accurate, simply for the dryness and episodic approach, but the cumulative effect of the book was too impressive, and as a single source on the war, it's pretty essential. [email protected] 2021

  4. 5 out of 5

    Gary Inbinder

    Well-written, engrossing comprehensive history of WWI. Sir Martin Gilbert expounds on the power politics, alliances, national aspirations and failed diplomacy leading up to the war, then provides a blow-by-blow narrative of the conflict on all fronts. Four years of war is followed by the power politics, alliances, national aspirations and failed diplomacy of a precarious peace that ended in a second great global conflict a mere two decades after the first. Throughout the narrative, Gilbert skillf Well-written, engrossing comprehensive history of WWI. Sir Martin Gilbert expounds on the power politics, alliances, national aspirations and failed diplomacy leading up to the war, then provides a blow-by-blow narrative of the conflict on all fronts. Four years of war is followed by the power politics, alliances, national aspirations and failed diplomacy of a precarious peace that ended in a second great global conflict a mere two decades after the first. Throughout the narrative, Gilbert skillfully interweaves personal experiences from the leaders of nations, the military commanders, officers, private soldiers, ordinary seamen, and civilians. The experiences and observations of the famous and obscure, were gleaned from letters, memoirs, interviews, articles, prose, poetry, war monuments and headstones. The reader gets both the panoramic view and the close-up, all of which adds up to an impression of the whole brought into sharp focus by a meticulous attention to detail. “A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.” The quote is attributed to Stalin, from which one might infer a cynical attitude towards genocide. Nevertheless, regardless of the source of the quote, reading a soldier’s poignant last letter to his wife, parents or lover can make a deeper impression on the reader’s imagination than the bare casualty list of a battle in which that soldier died. The statistics of WWI’s dead and wounded, both military and civilian, multiplies individual tragedies by the millions. “On 22 July 1938, as war again threatened Europe, and Hitler demanded the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia, the Imperial War Graves Commission completed its task of cemetery building for the First World War.” A particularly sad comment from the book’s final chapter. To quote Shakespeare: “What’s past is prologue.” “All wars end up being reduced to statistics, strategies, debates about their origins and results. These debates about war are important, but not more important than the human story of those who fought in them.” Gilbert, Martin. The First World War: A Complete History (p. 543). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

  5. 4 out of 5

    M. D. Hudson

    It’s 543 pages of one damned thing after another. An oddly compelling way to do history: no real attempt to make sense of anything in terms of strategy or economics or politics; just a list of events mostly told via individual recollections. Gilbert troubles to quote a lot of poems throughout the text, mostly English war poets of the time. Most of this verse is quite bad (I’ve always thought), but given the context and the horror, it is oddly moving. Perhaps this is the best way to read this sor It’s 543 pages of one damned thing after another. An oddly compelling way to do history: no real attempt to make sense of anything in terms of strategy or economics or politics; just a list of events mostly told via individual recollections. Gilbert troubles to quote a lot of poems throughout the text, mostly English war poets of the time. Most of this verse is quite bad (I’ve always thought), but given the context and the horror, it is oddly moving. Perhaps this is the best way to read this sort of poetry. A lot of the poets died, of course: Wilfred Owen, Joyce Kilmer (“only God can make a tree”) and Rupert Brook (who died of an infected mosquito bite on his lip while in training for the Gallipoli campaign). Some of the sources Gilbert uses recur throughout the book, which gives it a real cohesiveness it might’ve otherwise lacked. For example, “On August 7, in Vienna, the 25-year-old Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, who had just returned from teaching at Cambridge, volunteered as a gunner in the Austrian army, despite a double hernia that entitled him to exemption…(his sister Hermione recalled) there were “many comic misunderstandings ‘which stemmed from the fact that the military authorities, with whom he was always dealing, always assumed that he was looking for an easier post while he, on the contrary, was after a more dangerous one.’” Some of Wittgenstein’s attitudes are strangely archaic: “From his river gunboat on the Russian front, he wrote on October 25: ‘It makes me feel today more than ever the terribly sad position of our race – the German race. Because it seems to me as good as certain that we cannot get the upper had against England. The English – the best race in the world – cannot lose. We, however, can lose and shall lose, if not this year, then the next year. The though that our race is going to be beaten depressed me terribly, because I am completely German.'” (p. 104). This is a little less hysterical than Corporal Hitler’s letters home (also quoted in this book), but there are some shared attitudes. Maybe everybody thought that way then. The weird conincidences of war: Bertrand Russell, Wittgenstein’s friend and colleague, was being tried (and found guilty) for pacifistic activities in England at almost the exact same time (June 1916) that Wittgenstein was awarded by the Austro-Hungarian authorities “the Silver Medal for Valour, Second Class, a rare honour for someone of such a low rank. The citation read: ‘Ignoring the heavy artillery fire on the casemate and the exploding mortar bombs, he observed the discharge of the mortars and located them. The battery in fact succeeded in destroying two of the heavy-calibre mortars by direct hits, as was confirmed by prisoners taken.’ Ignoring the shouts of his officer to take cover, Wittgenstein continued to observe the effect of the gunfire. ‘By this distinctive behaviour,’ the officer reported, ‘he exercised a very calming effect on his comrades.’” (p. 253). Speaking of decorations – Corporal Hitler was awarded the Iron Cross, First Class on August 4, 1918 for ‘personal bravery and general merit.’ This was an unusual decoration for a corporal. Hitler wore it for the rest of his life. The regimental adjutant who recommended him for it, Captain Hugo Guttman, was a Jew.” (Guttman, Gilbert says in a footnote, emigrated to Canada when Hitler came to power). (p. 447). Hundreds and hundreds of examples of this sort of thing. When Gilbert goes from the particular to the big numbers, it is almost impossible to comprehend. The worst single day of the war, he notes, was during the Battle of the Somme (July 1, 1916): “Just over a thousand British officers and more that 20,000 men were killed, and 25,000 seriously wounded.” (p. 260). This was in one day. Elsewhere (everywhere!) a couple of hundred dead here a few dozen there, even in some of the most obscure areas (Anatolia, Bulgaria, Turkey, East Africa, etc) just keeps adding up, page after page. Then, at the very end, in 1918, the Spanish ‘flu kills more than the entire war did! World War II and the Holocaust winds up being more appalling because it was so deliberate and so systematic; the First World War was mostly just incredibly stubborn and stupid. Take your pick on which was the biggest disaster.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    A very good and thorough overview of the war in sequential order. It doesn't try to explain the strategies or get in the minds of the participants. It just tells the tale, as it were. Mainly through anecdotes and asides. That being said I took brief impressions of the book as I was reading it, a bit tongue and cheek but still: - good explanation of cause of war - Valiant act. then he died. here is a poem. - the Germans are driving to Paris through Belgium. Belgium fights valiantly. losses. - German A very good and thorough overview of the war in sequential order. It doesn't try to explain the strategies or get in the minds of the participants. It just tells the tale, as it were. Mainly through anecdotes and asides. That being said I took brief impressions of the book as I was reading it, a bit tongue and cheek but still: - good explanation of cause of war - Valiant act. then he died. here is a poem. - the Germans are driving to Paris through Belgium. Belgium fights valiantly. losses. - German brutality against civilians. -Hitler -the British and French miscalculate...ad nauseam -Victorian cross awarded, another amazing tale of gallantry. - the allies fall back -Hitler - battle of the Marne...MISTAKES WERE MADE...and then massive death toll. Here's a poem -Victorian cross awarded, another amazing tale of gallantry. -and now we are in stalemate. - Churchill is awesome Yeah! -Mussolini - Poor planning, unbelievable number of people dead. they gained a few hundred yards, and then the enemy got it back the next day. - Another country comes into the war in the east and does good until the Germans come and solidify the ranks of there adversaries and then they do bad , attacks bogged down not by trenches but by everything else. and then massive death toll. Here's a poem. - here are some random pictures. -Victorian cross awarded, another amazing tale of gallantry. - maps in the back. - Germans win again, holy crap i know the winner and still... - another persons POV viewed through a letter because of course he died...here's a poem. - surprisingly tense book. - here is something about the communists who were helped by the Germans you know. - anti-war folks....and their executed. -the Jews try to help and are killed and/or persecuted on all sides. - ohh look a new war front...and its bogged down -Verdun and the Somme...MISTAKES WERE MADE, and then massive death toll. Here's a poem - submarine warfare...Wilson says US still neutral -as a palate cleanser here is the air war, less blood more gallantry still plenty of death. -Victorian cross awarded, another amazing tale of gallantry. -Churchill is awesome Yeah -Wilson fails. US still neutral -random dig at American racism - another persons POV viewed through a letter because of course he died...here's a poem. -unrestrictive submarine warfare/Zimmerman note Wilson finally getting off the pot -Mussolini -here come the communists/revolution. - here is something about the communists who were helped by the Germans you know -US finally at war -the convoy system -US soldiers not good. -Victorian cross awarded, another amazing tale of gallantry. -Russia collapses, loses everything - central powers last hurrah -Pershing bad, Brits and French good. Americans stubborn -Americans stubborn, now in a slightly good way...begrudgingly. -here's a poem -random dig at American racism -Americans do good. -the allies advance, war almost over - here's a poem -Victorian cross awarded, another amazing tale of gallantry. -The end - Germans in revolt -here's a poem -final days of fighting -armistice - a really good summary of its faults and causes of the next great war

  7. 5 out of 5

    Bevan Lewis

    Historians come in many flavours. There are those who expound on the big picture, who create masterful theories that appear to explain a lot, and some who dive into the detail of personalities and events. Martin Gilbert was a well respected historian with the public - his plentiful output sold well. Yet he was coolly assessed by reviewers and other historians. Paul Addison described one of his volumes on Winston Churchill as "more like a compilation of source materials", and Richard Overy descri Historians come in many flavours. There are those who expound on the big picture, who create masterful theories that appear to explain a lot, and some who dive into the detail of personalities and events. Martin Gilbert was a well respected historian with the public - his plentiful output sold well. Yet he was coolly assessed by reviewers and other historians. Paul Addison described one of his volumes on Winston Churchill as "more like a compilation of source materials", and Richard Overy described his Second World War history as "so perversely at odds with the conventions of modern history-writing that the least we might expect is some guidance". Yet there is a place for the chronicler. History isn't just about grand narratives and theories of causation - events are important. The historian's own purpose and point of view don't have to be centre stage - as long as they aren't surreptitiously distorting the tale. David Kynaston is writing a much hailed history of post war Britain which echos Gilbert's style. The historians own voice and point of view is subtle, the sources and characters speaking for themselves. Kynaston roams back and forward through popular culture and specific individuals before centring on his core topic in each chapter. Gilbert's history of World War 1 certainly is light on grand strategy and the big picture. It isn't really a military history, and doesn't spend a great deal of time on politics. It does jump from place to place, although I didn't find it particularly difficult to follow. What it is superb at is giving the human view of war. Through letters, diaries and poetry we get a vivid portrait of most of the theatres of war and of what it was like for the individuals. The real delight is in following particular characters (often to sad conclusions) and reading the footnotes about the legacy of individuals. The up close and personal point of view does allow appreciation of the suffering, as well as a sense of living through the drama of the war itself. The many military and diplomatic coups of the central powers lead to nail biting moments right up until mid 1918, even knowing the outcome. Martin Gilbert was a British Jew. This does show through in his perspective to some extent. German atrocities are highlighted while British ones are not, and he does point out Jews with particular interest (e.g. Walter Rathenau) in a way other authors might not. The book is lighter on the perspective of Central Powers participants but not overly so. The main omission is of Turkish perspectives however this probably reflects when the book was written (1994). This book isn't the last word in explaining the First World War, however it contributes a lot to understanding what the war was about, the nature of it and its impact on individuals. As Martin Gilbert himself states: "All wars end up being reduced to statistics, strategies, debates about their origins and results. These debates about war are important, but not more important than the human story of those who fought in them". This book is a powerful exposition of that story.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    Big book of death in the trenches. If people aren't being machine-gunned in No Man's Land, they're being blown into their component pieces by artillery. Gilbert uses a lot of contemporary anecdotes to illustrate the experience of trench warfare. He does an excellent job of describing the war on the main fronts, without stinting too much on the other theaters of conflict. I have three criticisms: In the choice of accounts used, the book tends to be a bit Anglocentric. Gilbert justifies this by cit Big book of death in the trenches. If people aren't being machine-gunned in No Man's Land, they're being blown into their component pieces by artillery. Gilbert uses a lot of contemporary anecdotes to illustrate the experience of trench warfare. He does an excellent job of describing the war on the main fronts, without stinting too much on the other theaters of conflict. I have three criticisms: In the choice of accounts used, the book tends to be a bit Anglocentric. Gilbert justifies this by citing the central place the Great War continues to hold in popular British culture. I would have liked to have read more from the French or Russian experience. Gilbert eschews the use of academic citation. As a former academic, I would have liked to know the sources of some of his quotes. Lastly, I wish he would have covered more of the social impact of the war on the homefronts. Basically, I really want a 3,000 page book on the war. These criticisms aside, this is one of the best, most accesible one-volume works on the First World War. It is highly readable. Gilbert does a good job of portraying the horrors of war in the trenches. He also does a good job of laying out the complex tangle of issues that drove the conflict and made it so difficult to bring to an end. From the war's mid-point, the various combatants wanted to end the war but were at a complete loss as to how. The author also does a good job of unraveling the action on various fronts, making the events and their chronology very comprehensible.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jerome

    A good, comprehensive treatment of the war. Gilbert does a good job covering the war’s scope, from the war’s origins to its aftermath. The narrative isn’t exactly riveting or stirring, but it is endlessly informative. While the coverage of certain battles and campaigns varies throughout the book, Gilbert does a great job bringing it all together in a way that makes sense. Politics,strategy, diplomacy and military actions are all brought together in a clear narrative. Gilbert is also good at weavin A good, comprehensive treatment of the war. Gilbert does a good job covering the war’s scope, from the war’s origins to its aftermath. The narrative isn’t exactly riveting or stirring, but it is endlessly informative. While the coverage of certain battles and campaigns varies throughout the book, Gilbert does a great job bringing it all together in a way that makes sense. Politics,strategy, diplomacy and military actions are all brought together in a clear narrative. Gilbert is also good at weaving anecdotes into the story, about such things as the experiences of civilians, and the sheer horror and scale of the war’s effects.Sometimes he resorts to a barrage of facts that disconcert the reader, but it helps drive the narrative along. He is good at showing how the war escalated into bloody and horrific stalemate where advances were minimal and casualties horrendous. Gilbert includes a lot of literature excerpts and war poetry, which gets irritating sometimes but drives home the horrors of the war. He also includes anecdotes about the more famous figures that were involved in the war, or would become famous later on( Churchill, de Gaulle, Hitler, etc.). The book lacks thorough analysis, but this does not otherwise detract from its story. He also ignores to some extent the war’s sideshow theaters like Africa and Asia, although actions in the Middle East are covered well. Some of Gilbert’s language is a little odd, like “torpedoed with a Turkish torpedo,” but instances like this are few and far between.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ensiform

    This very long work is essentially a chronology of the war, from the rapid escalation of tension before August 1914 to the problems of armistice in 1918 and how they affected state relations in the 1930s. Gilbert, the official biographer of Churchill, brings home at many points the reality of the 9 million military dead of WWI through use of poems, quotes and letters written home by the men who died, as well as graphic recollections by nurses who served at the front (one image that stays with me This very long work is essentially a chronology of the war, from the rapid escalation of tension before August 1914 to the problems of armistice in 1918 and how they affected state relations in the 1930s. Gilbert, the official biographer of Churchill, brings home at many points the reality of the 9 million military dead of WWI through use of poems, quotes and letters written home by the men who died, as well as graphic recollections by nurses who served at the front (one image that stays with me is the room full of amputated limbs). It’s fascinating reading and broad in scope, but it does have its problems. First, the endless litany style does grate after a while. Second, Gilbert is intensely pro-Anglo-American. Thus he ignores all the fighting out of Europe, and while he mentions Japan once, fails to dwell on why Japan entered the war, how her people felt about it, what her success or losses were, etc. Thus, too, he dwells on German “atrocities” during the war but mentions several instances which make it quite clear that barbarism and selfishness were aspects of both sides. Finally, while arguing that superior Allied force was the deciding factor in the German capitulation, he fails to convince that internal revolution played a small part. Despite these flaws, an impressive and engaging book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    John Meffen

    Okay. The book covered some parts of the war that I was definitely never told in school. On the other hand he showed his public schoolboy/oxbridge bent, with his overemphasis on the war poetry that only came out of his social strata in what was ultimately a huge exercise in grinding up young men. At least he has covered some things from the axis point of view. But really his love for Churchill and people of his own class shines through, the working class people involved seem to be just numbers for Okay. The book covered some parts of the war that I was definitely never told in school. On the other hand he showed his public schoolboy/oxbridge bent, with his overemphasis on the war poetry that only came out of his social strata in what was ultimately a huge exercise in grinding up young men. At least he has covered some things from the axis point of view. But really his love for Churchill and people of his own class shines through, the working class people involved seem to be just numbers for him. Semi-Marxist Semi-Rant over

  12. 5 out of 5

    Walter Mendoza

    "The First World War” by Martin Gilbert is an excellent book, the author covered the all conflict briefly. Well written, captures the horror and brutality of War, with individual stories, docummented and direct quotes because his focus is more on the human story. Every front is covered, date by date, diaries, documments, evidence and stirring narratives that people died. An excellent way to learned a Different Perspective on WWI.This book will certainly sophisticate but not too complex history of "The First World War” by Martin Gilbert is an excellent book, the author covered the all conflict briefly. Well written, captures the horror and brutality of War, with individual stories, docummented and direct quotes because his focus is more on the human story. Every front is covered, date by date, diaries, documments, evidence and stirring narratives that people died. An excellent way to learned a Different Perspective on WWI.This book will certainly sophisticate but not too complex history of the first world war. I recommend this book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Paige McLoughlin

    Good history of the war is a relatively straightforward account of the battles and course of the war. However, the focus is mostly on the immediate happenings around the war. Excuse me if I find it a bit journalistic for my taste. I am a theory spinner and I am much more on the long-term effects of this war on the course of history on things like politics and capitalism and how it shaped the outline of the following years of the twentieth century. This book sticks to the immediate and proximate Good history of the war is a relatively straightforward account of the battles and course of the war. However, the focus is mostly on the immediate happenings around the war. Excuse me if I find it a bit journalistic for my taste. I am a theory spinner and I am much more on the long-term effects of this war on the course of history on things like politics and capitalism and how it shaped the outline of the following years of the twentieth century. This book sticks to the immediate and proximate effects of the war while I look for a grand narrative (my vice I suppose) but it is a really good account of the war on its own terms and for the generations that lived the experience the immediate effects were more important than the grand narrative. The world war I generation was suspicious of such grand narratives and for good reason.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Mark L. Mrs. D Smith HLA Hour 3 9/26/2017 Book Review 1 The book I read was The First World War by Martin Gilbert. This book is about all of the technology, weapons, tactics, and battles of World War One. This book goes day by day month by month year in a timeline of the war. It tells about significant things that happen during that time. The point of this book is to inform and explain this war to more people about World War One which I believe is overshadowed in the U. S. by other wars such as Worl Mark L. Mrs. D Smith HLA Hour 3 9/26/2017 Book Review 1 The book I read was The First World War by Martin Gilbert. This book is about all of the technology, weapons, tactics, and battles of World War One. This book goes day by day month by month year in a timeline of the war. It tells about significant things that happen during that time. The point of this book is to inform and explain this war to more people about World War One which I believe is overshadowed in the U. S. by other wars such as World War Two and the American Civil war. I think the most important thing shown here is that this was a very interesting time filled with terrible violence, death, and destruction, but it also saw the most medical breakthroughs and research compared to any other time in the history of humanity, and many other good things came out of this war, but many bad things happened to, like the deaths of millions of men, the Russian Civil war and many other things. I feel the book was overall a very successful book in most goals. It is very informative, it really hits that point good because it is very informative, I think the writing is pretty effective, but some of the language and the way it is worded is a little confusing, and the author, Martin Gilbert, is a very credible author with a degree in history from Oxford. All and all, I really liked this book, and I thought it was very well crafted. I liked the format, details, and the wide picture. I would like to recommend to anyone who likes history and the interesting stories that come out of a terrible war. You would like this because it goes over the war, but it also goes over individuals and their stories. -Mark L.

  15. 4 out of 5

    R.F. Gammon

    "All wars end up being reduced to statistics, strategies, debates about their origins and results. These debates about war are important, but not more important than the human story of those who fought in them." These closing words sum up Martin Gilbert's masterpiece "The First World War" perfectly. This is not an easy book, nor is it a lightweight piece of reading. It doesn't shy away from violence. It gets down into the nitty-gritty of war correspondence, which can be a little dry sometimes. Bu "All wars end up being reduced to statistics, strategies, debates about their origins and results. These debates about war are important, but not more important than the human story of those who fought in them." These closing words sum up Martin Gilbert's masterpiece "The First World War" perfectly. This is not an easy book, nor is it a lightweight piece of reading. It doesn't shy away from violence. It gets down into the nitty-gritty of war correspondence, which can be a little dry sometimes. But it's less about the war as a whole--spends less time on the strategy of attacks and such--than it is about the men who fought in the war. On nearly every page there is the story of an individual soldier from some country who fought in the battle. Who received a medal from his country for courage. Who was shot out of the sky. Whose body was blown to bits. The men who fought in this war were brave, selfless, noble souls. The generals who led them? The politicians who forced them to go on fighting? Shameful. The thing that angered me the most in this whole account of the war was when the armistice negotiators had agreed that the war would end promptly at 11:00 AM on November 11th, 1918, told their men to go on firing until that point. Men died up until around 10:45. There was no reason for this waste. But it happened anyway. "Never again," says the last chapter, and because human history is blotted out by sin, it is not true. But this is the sort of book I think everyone should have to read. Because it makes you never want to repeat war. "...until the word war is removed from the dictionary," a newspaper said of the German novel "All Quiet on the Western Front." As a Christian, I am thankful that there is hope of a future where there will be no more war. No violence. No death. But until that day, we must continue to pray that war will end and not continue.

  16. 5 out of 5

    S.

    probably deserves the final star for a 4.5 ~ 5.0 star rating, but I'm sitting on a load of good books and can't distribute too many five stars too quickly. a thousand page tome on world war one, interspersed with the poetry of some of the soldiers. Gilbert writes briskly and well. a good learning experience about the great tragedy. probably deserves the final star for a 4.5 ~ 5.0 star rating, but I'm sitting on a load of good books and can't distribute too many five stars too quickly. a thousand page tome on world war one, interspersed with the poetry of some of the soldiers. Gilbert writes briskly and well. a good learning experience about the great tragedy.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Adam Glantz

    At the outset, Martin Gilbert claims there are essentially two wars which rarely intersect, one for the elite decision-makers and one for the people who actually fight. What integrates them is his attempt to tell a human story, employing first hand accounts and vignettes of individuals and their fates; the "big history" isn't eliminated, but it is backgrounded. Narrative movement in chronological order, usually a terrible idea when telling a story, is employed to great effect to capture the true At the outset, Martin Gilbert claims there are essentially two wars which rarely intersect, one for the elite decision-makers and one for the people who actually fight. What integrates them is his attempt to tell a human story, employing first hand accounts and vignettes of individuals and their fates; the "big history" isn't eliminated, but it is backgrounded. Narrative movement in chronological order, usually a terrible idea when telling a story, is employed to great effect to capture the true experiences of the participants as they were buffeted by this then that event. As one advances through the book, the detail becomes all but overwhelming. If you don't have the benefit of a concise overview, you'll likely become confused by the tangled web of campaigns, and then numbed by the constant descriptions of deaths in battle . But perhaps that's the point ... I think the war can be characterized as follows, with emphasis on the Western Front. An initial German thrust through Belgium into France was checked, then both sides settled into a stalemate. The Central Powers maintained relative superiority for several years, despite Allied attempts to break out. The central question of the war was if the Western Allies could hold on in the fraught period when Russia was collapsing into revolution but the United States hadn't fully deployed yet. Other fronts were quite varied, characterized by feverish movement (e.g., the Eastern Front, Africa), a net stalemate (e.g., the Italy-Austria border, the Salonica Front), or equal parts of both (e.g., the Middle East). Though technologically innovative, the Allies were marked by poor leadership and questionable decisions. The Gallipoli campaign and the Nivelle offensive were dismal failures, while the Russians were routinely outclassed by the Germans. All sides suffered horrific losses as vulnerable soldiers came up against machine guns, heavy artillery, and poison gas. Friendly fire, particularly during shelling, claimed many lives and trench conditions were infamous. Away from the front, the belligerents' civilians were menaced by the first aerial bombing campaigns and in risk of starvation from naval blockades and aggressive submarine warfare. By the latter years of the war, the Continental powers were at a breaking point, with French and German soldiers mutinying and Russia falling apart. World War I is a tale of how far whole societies can stretch before shattering. I can't imagine the First World War can be examined without considering the Second World War, and this book is no exception. Martin Gilbert doesn't reduce the former to a mere cause of the latter, but he does make his opinions known in the last chapter. The punitive approach of the Allies, and their assigning blame for the entire war to Germany, set the stage for a future conflict. Given the mood of the Allied publics after the sacrifices of the conflict, it's hard to know if this could have been avoided. Meanwhile, Gilbert is unequivocal about the German "stabbed-in-the-back" myth: Allied military superiority, rather than domestic political intrigues, was responsible for the defeat of the Central Powers. Had the Allies pressed on and invaded Germany, this fact may have become more apparent, but at the cost of more lives. Each author has his biases and Martin Gilbert certainly has his. As a British scholar, his focus is disproportionately on Britain, and one wonders if his implicit criticism of Germany for catalyzing the push to war and committing atrocities against civilians is somehow magnified. It's also interesting how this biographer of Churchill seems to exonerate that leader from some of the war's bad decisions, particularly Gallipoli. In any event, no one can claim this nearly 700 page history isn't comprehensive, and for all of its detail, it's surprisingly readable.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    “More than nine million soldiers, sailors and airmen were killed in the First World War. A further five million civilians are estimated to have perished under occupation, bombardment, hunger and disease…” — The First World War: A Complete History, Introduction, Page xv Of all major military conflicts in which the United States has participated, I was the least familiar with the story of World War I. That has now been rectified. In The First World War: A Complete History, published in 1994, British “More than nine million soldiers, sailors and airmen were killed in the First World War. A further five million civilians are estimated to have perished under occupation, bombardment, hunger and disease…” — The First World War: A Complete History, Introduction, Page xv Of all major military conflicts in which the United States has participated, I was the least familiar with the story of World War I. That has now been rectified. In The First World War: A Complete History, published in 1994, British historian and biographer Martin Gilbert provides a detailed, comprehensive, and meticulously researched look at World War I, also known as “The Great War” and “The War to End All Wars.” Gilbert covers all aspects of the war, from events leading up to the declarations of war, to the progress of the war on all fronts (including the Western and Eastern Fronts, the Caucasus Front, the Persian Front, the southern Mesopotamian Front, the Salonica Front, the Italian Front, the East African Front, and the Sinai Front), to the armistices and treaties, and to remembrances of the war. Among the many things I learned from Gilbert’s book, it was particularly astonishing for me to read that in the American Expeditionary Force, more soldiers died of influenza (62,000) during the pandemic of 1918 than were killed in battle (48,000) during the entire war. Also particularly disturbing to me was the role that Germany played in fermenting and enabling the overthrow of the Tsar by Lenin and the Bolsheviks (Red Russians) in Russia and how dangerously close Central Europe (Germany, Austria, Hungary, etc.) came to falling under the control of the Bolsheviks (i.e., communism) at the end of the war. This might explain why Great Britain and France were more concerned with suppressing communism in their countries during the 1920s and 1930s while turning a blind eye toward the rise of fascism in Germany, Italy, and Spain during this period. In every respect, Gilbert’s The First World War: A Complete History is an outstanding book that will provide readers with a greater understanding of the causes, effects, and events of World War I. It should be cautioned, however, that the detailed nature of the book is geared toward the serious student of history and not to the reader who is interested only in an overall understanding of the war. Footnote: Martin Gilbert (1936-2015), is also well known for his multi-volume official biography of Sir Winston Churchill, along with other excellent works of history including “The Holocaust,” and “The Second World War.”

  19. 5 out of 5

    David Brown

    An excellent one volume history of the First World War. Does not discuss any naval aspects of the conflict with the exception of submarine warfare. Some of the finest poetry in the English language was written during the war; yet all subsequent conflicts are bereft of this art form. Do not think the Iraq War will produce any Siegfried Sassoon’s.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ricardo De spínola

    Mostly a chronological and detailed description of events. Certainly, a great compendium of rigorous information. However, it is organized by dates and not topics, which makes it less interesting for a casual reader, as I am.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Viola

    Pages of Revolutionary History: Mutiny in the British Army Tom Brown Present discussion of post war demobilization should naturally recall the discussion of the subject in 1918. Then, as now, the politicians had well-laid plans abundantly reported by the Press. How true is the comment of Burns, “the best laid schemes of mice and men gang aft agley”. In a few weeks the demobilization plans of the politicians were shattered by the soldiers who almost demobilized themselves. But it was not demobiliza Pages of Revolutionary History: Mutiny in the British Army Tom Brown Present discussion of post war demobilization should naturally recall the discussion of the subject in 1918. Then, as now, the politicians had well-laid plans abundantly reported by the Press. How true is the comment of Burns, “the best laid schemes of mice and men gang aft agley”. In a few weeks the demobilization plans of the politicians were shattered by the soldiers who almost demobilized themselves. But it was not demobilization alone which caused the mutinies of 1918 and 1919. It was also a revolt against tyrannous discipline, low pay and senseless parades. The first post-war mutiny occurred on November 13th, 1918 at Shoreham, only two days after the Armistice. The strike was led by a Northumberland sergeant, G.P., who in response to an act of tyranny by a major against a private, marched the troops from the naval docks, the guard of marines opening the gates to allow them to pass. Some distance from the camp he held a meeting urging the soldiers to stand firm. The next day the General arrived and addressed the troops, G.P. being made to stand to one side. The General invited any man to step out and go to work. “You can imagine my feelings (wrote G.P.) as being an old soldier of twenty years service, of course, I knew the consequences of my act. But I never saw such loyal men in my life, not one man moved. I could hear the sergeants in the rear of the men telling them to stand by me, and it was well they did, or I should have got ten years or so. The following Monday one thousand of us were demobbed, my name at the head of the list, and one thousand every week afterwards.” Mutiny, by T. H. Wintringham. Troops mutinied at Folkestone on January 3, 1919, Two thousand men met and agreed that no military boat should be allowed to sail to France, only Canadian and Australian troops being allowed to go, if they wished. The Colonials stood by the English mutineers. Troop trains arriving in Folkestone with troops en route to France were met by pickets. In a mass the returning soldiers joined their comrades. An armed guard which was posted at the docks with loaded rifles and fixed bayonets fell back before the demonstrators who set up their own harbour guard. The rebels, now about 10,000 strong, held a mass meeting and decided to form a Soldiers’ Union, and elected delegates and spokesmen. The Chief of Staff, Sir William Robertson, hastened from London and at once agreed to the mens’ demands. All with jobs to go to were demobilized at once. Men who claimed prospects of a job were given a week’s leave to make arrangements. Complete indemnity for all acts of mutiny was promised. By this time 4.,000 men at Dover demonstrated and would have stopped troopships the following day if the Folkestone settlement had not been made. A few days later 400 soldiers en route to Salonica refused to board the boat train at London. Within the next few days the revolt spread to Shortlands, Grove Park, Kempton Park, Sydenham, Park Royal, Maidstone, Aldershot (where a serious riot took place) Bristol, Chatham and other places. An outstanding feature of most of the mutinies was the distrust and scorn of the men for their officers. The promises and cajolery of officers, even colonels and brigadiers, were scorned. The men refused to talk to any but the “top notchers”. The Army Service Corps, Mechanical Transport at Kempton Park and Grove Park seized army lorries and drove to London, where they blocked the traffic in Whitehall while their deputation was inside. On January 15, 1919, Winston Churchill became Secretary of State for War and Air. He did not have to wait long for a visit of the troops. At half past eight on the morning of February 8 he received an urgent summons to the War Office. Arriving there by car he saw a battalion of Guards drawn up in the Mall: A report of mutiny awaited him. 3,000 soldiers of many units had arrived at Victoria Station the previous evening on their way to France after leave. The Director of Movements (according to Churchill) had failed to make any arrangements for the feeding, housing or transport of these men, most of whom came from the North of England. Most of them had waited all night on the platform, without tea or food. “They had suddenly upon some instigation resorted in a body to Whitehall, and were now filling the Horse Guards’ Parade armed and in a state of complete disorder. Their leader, I was informed, was at that very moment prescribing conditions to the Staff of the London Command in the Horse Guard building.” Churchill, The Aftermath, page 63. What Churchill calls a “state of complete disorder” was simply the refusal to continue obeying the orders of the military commanders. So far as public conduct is concerned the men were most orderly, self disciplined and organised. Now, one might think this a glorious opportunity for the fire-eating hero of pen and radio to stalk out and address the troops, to give then some “fight on the beaches” stuff or a basinful of “blood and tears”. Not likely! Winston regarded discretion as the better part of valour—indeed the whole of it. The whole of Churchill’s account of the affair consists of reports. Although he was only a hundred yards away, he remained in his office. “Sir William Robertson and General Fielding, commanding the London District, presented themselves to me with this account, and added that a reserve Battalion of Grenadiers and two troops of Household Cavalry were available on the spot. What course were they authorized to adopt? I asked whether the Battalion would obey orders, and was answered ‘The officers believe so’. On this I requested the Generals to surround and make prisoners of the disorderly mass. They departed immediately on this duty. “I remained in my room a prey to anxiety. A very grave issue had arisen at the physical heart of the State. Ten minutes passed slowly. From my windows I could see the Life Guards on duty in Whitehall closing the gates and doors of the archway. Then suddenly there appeared on the roof of the Horse Guards a number of civilians, perhaps twenty or thirty in all, who spread themselves out in a long black silhouette and were evidently watching something which was taking place, or about to take place, on the Parade Ground below them. What this might be I had no means of knowing, although I was but a hundred yards away. Another ten minutes of tension passed and back came the Generals in a much more cheerful mood. Everything had gone off happily. The Grenadiers with fixed bayonets had closed in upon the armed crowd; the Household Cavalry had executed an enveloping movement on the other flank; and the whole 3,000 men had been shepherded and escorted under arrest to Wellington Barracks, where they were all going to have breakfast before resuming their journey to France. No one was hurt, very few were called to account, and only one or two were punished and that not seriously.” Churchill, The Aftermath. The soldiers’ movement proved to be one of the most successful strikes ever attempted. Immense gains were won in a few weeks, but the story is incomplete if limited to Britain’s shores. The success of the soldiers’ strike was due to its sweeping movement over England and France. Beyond the Channel was half of the British Army, armed and battle seasoned. How did the veterans of the battlefields of France and Flanders respond to the strike call before they marched to the occupation of the German Rhineland? (Next issue, “British Mutiny in France”.) From: War Commentary for Anarchism, vol.5, no.13 May 1944. https://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/1...

  22. 5 out of 5

    Brad Merola

    I thought this book had little appeal to it. I enjoy history, I like to read about great battles of anytime period, but this book had very little of that. It more focused on the cause of the World War, and why America eventually stepped in. With such action happening at every stage in the world at that time, Gilbert could have done a way better job on portraying certain scenes from history. I do like, however, how in depth he went on the weapons used during the war. He started about how they adv I thought this book had little appeal to it. I enjoy history, I like to read about great battles of anytime period, but this book had very little of that. It more focused on the cause of the World War, and why America eventually stepped in. With such action happening at every stage in the world at that time, Gilbert could have done a way better job on portraying certain scenes from history. I do like, however, how in depth he went on the weapons used during the war. He started about how they advanced certain guns, and I enjoyed that part a lot. "It was to be the war to end all wars" Gilbert had stated, but with previous knowledge knowing that there have been many other wars, the exaggeration makes me cringe. Knowing full well what happened during the war, the only person who thought the first world war would end all wars was the American president at the time Woodrow Wilson. He was the only person dumbfounded enough to believe that the war could end all other wars and create peace between the world. But every other ambassadors, including Germany, Great Britain, etc...knew that the war would carry on much farther than just Treaty of Versailles. " It left us with new technologies of death" I thought was a good chapter in the book. It talked about the progressions of technology that lead to the new way to fight in a war. Because of the new weapons, generals were not able to fight like they were used to fighting in previous wars. So the death count tallied up more, and more, and more. I would not recommend this 543 page book to any of my friends because it is a big waste of time.

  23. 4 out of 5

    William Gill

    This is my second recent complete one volume history of WWI, the first being A World Undone. While both histories are as comprehensive as a one volume can be, they are quite a bit different. Obviously wanting to connect the reader to the average soldier in the (mostly) Allied trenches, Gilbert tends to dart back and forth between those who orchestrated events and those who actually carried them out. He has a great affinity for artists and most especially poets, riddling large sections of many pa This is my second recent complete one volume history of WWI, the first being A World Undone. While both histories are as comprehensive as a one volume can be, they are quite a bit different. Obviously wanting to connect the reader to the average soldier in the (mostly) Allied trenches, Gilbert tends to dart back and forth between those who orchestrated events and those who actually carried them out. He has a great affinity for artists and most especially poets, riddling large sections of many pages with the earnest stanzas of authors who lived and mostly died in the mud and hell of the war. The effect is grounding and it allows for an expression of language that really penetrates the reader's heart as well as the mind. These were not just men of violence or courage, they were deeply sensitive and able to express emotion in a disciplined manner. The culture of the time perhaps allowed and engendered this much more than we can fathom in our own techno-barbarian age. Sometimes it is a bit much and it halts the larger narrative like whiplash, but overall it offers a fascinating glimpse into the the psyche of some of the combatants. This is a war we should not forget. Not just because it led to the next terrible world war, but because it is still with us. The effects of WWI linger on in American globalism, the maps of Europe and the Middle East, and in the ever growing cynicism and godless nihilism that permeate the fiber of the western man and woman.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Engle

    Gilbert again demonstrates his mastery of the art of writing history ... a compact narration of the military history of the First World War, giving all the multitude of fronts equal play ... side issues of politics, personalities, literature, and the foreshadowing of another world war yet to come are touched on as appropriate ... studded with snatches of the evocative poetry of the time ...

  25. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    Read for the second time. The frantic pace of the war's last year-and-a-half, with the entrance of the US, the rapid flurry of Allied successes, as well as the series of postwar disappointments, made the book's final 5 chapters a real page-turner. The best part of the book is Gilbert’s ominous reminders that this horrible war was only the First — a prelude to an even worse catastrophe. Read for the second time. The frantic pace of the war's last year-and-a-half, with the entrance of the US, the rapid flurry of Allied successes, as well as the series of postwar disappointments, made the book's final 5 chapters a real page-turner. The best part of the book is Gilbert’s ominous reminders that this horrible war was only the First — a prelude to an even worse catastrophe.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Stephie Williams

    It s was a good book. But I don't think it was one of his best. I don't know how he does it, but he produces a smooth narrative out a ramble of information going from one point to another. Come to think of it I don't know most, or sI say all, good writers create a clear and precise narrative. It s was a good book. But I don't think it was one of his best. I don't know how he does it, but he produces a smooth narrative out a ramble of information going from one point to another. Come to think of it I don't know most, or sI say all, good writers create a clear and precise narrative.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    I read this because I knew very little about "the great war," now i have dreams about trenches and zeppelins. I read this because I knew very little about "the great war," now i have dreams about trenches and zeppelins.

  28. 4 out of 5

    K.M. Weiland

    Beautiful, heartbreaking progression of the war. Does a marvelous job bringing continuity and a sense of order to a rambling, gargantuan war.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Andy Raptis

    Great book and very informative. One thing I didn't like were the personal stories of those who fought in the war, their private correspondence, the poetry they wrote while in the trenches. Great book and very informative. One thing I didn't like were the personal stories of those who fought in the war, their private correspondence, the poetry they wrote while in the trenches.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Thomas P. Cushman

    Great Tears Great Tears roll down my cheeks as I finish this history, marvelously written. I had no idea. Please read it.

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