The First World War (Smithsonian History of Warfare)

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9780061142055: The First World War (Smithsonian History of Warfare)

Industrial and ironclad power reached its culmination in the war that engulfed Europe. As events would prove, however, the products of the industrial system of the 20th century, including the capacity of the system to transfer vast reserves of manpower from civilian to military employment at short notice, much more greatly favoured strategies of defence than offence. The outcome was a war of attrition and immobile fronts, eventually to be unlocked only when a second wave of industrial innovation yielded means—the tank, the aeroplane—to break the stalemate. This is a complete history of World War I. It is illustrated throughout and incorporates computer-generated cartography to bring the battlefields to life.

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About the Author:

Trevor Wilson is Professor of History at Adelaide University, Australia. His huge book The Myriad Faces of War has come to be recognised as one of the most important studies of the First World War ever published He has collaborated frequently with Robin Prior, who teaches in the History Department of the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra. Their joint publications include: Passchendaele The Untold Story and Command on the Western Front: The Military Career of General Sir Henry Rawlinson 1914-18.

From Library Journal:

It is fitting at the close of the 20th century that some thought be given to the initial calamity that set the century upon its destructive course. The First World War by Prior (history, Australian Defense Force Acad.) and Wilson (history, emeritus, Univ. of Adelaide) provides a fine narration of the military course of the war on land (a companion volume in Cassell's "History of Warfare" series will treat the war at sea). It concentrates on the European fronts, East and West, and on the strategy and outcomes of the battles between the major participants. The authors show a decidedly pro-British perspective, giving less-than-equal treatment to French and American contributions to victory. Although there is a good chronology, the battlefield maps contain more detail than needed for such a general narrative. This strictly military history provides some debatable conclusions on the war's genesis and a paean to the justness of the Allied cause. It may be in answer, intended or not, to Niall Ferguson's provocative The Pity of War (LJ 3/15/99) or even John Keegan's stark The First World War (LJ 4/15/99). Roze, a classical literature professor in France, has produced a more thoughtful work in her Fields of Memory. True to its title, it is a testament in words and images to those who suffered and died in the Great War. Its fluid story is extensively illustrated with period photographs as well as recent ones of the French and Belgian countryside, still littered with ruins. Personal narratives of French participants are frequently cited to give life to the dead and help individualize the war experience. It is not scholarly like Jay Winter's Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning (Cambrige Univ., 1995), but it has much more to offer than its coffee-table exterior would lead one to expect. Both books are recommended for public and academic libraries.
-James Tasato Mellone, Hofstra Univ., Hempstead, New York
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Robin Prior, Trevor Wilson
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