The First World War has shaped the history of the twentieth century. It was the first conflict in which airplanes, submarines, and tanks played a significant role, the first in which casualties on the battlefield outnumbered those from disease. It precipitated the collapse of the empires of Austria-Hungary and Turkey, and it promoted revolution in that of Russia. The USA's entry into the war and the part it played in the peace settlement signalled the arrival on the world stage of a new great power. The victors at Versailles took nationalism as one of their guiding principles; they also aimed at instituting their vision of liberalism and even democracy; the political consequences are still being played out.
In this extensively illustrated book, an international team of experts explores the war in all its different aspects. From its causes to its consequences, from the strategy of the politicians to the tactics of the generals, the course of the war is charted and its political and human consequences assessed. Chapters on economic mobilization, the impact on women, the role of propaganda, and the rise of socialism establish the wider social context of fighting which took place at sea and in the air and which ranged on land from the Flanders trenches to the Balkan mountains and the deserts of the Middle East.
The legacy of 'the war to end wars'--in poetry and prose, in collective memory and political culture--is with us still, eighty years after that first Armistice Day. This remarkable book helps us understand that legacy.
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This illustrated history is an outstanding summary of current scholarship on the war that was supposed to end all wars. Nearly two dozen contributors write smart and accessible essays on a range of subjects, including the military strategies of the Allies and the Central Powers, the war at sea, economic mobilization, politics on the home front, and the peace settlement. The chapters are full of intelligent insights. John Morrow, writing on the air war, notes that fighter pilots became "the ultimate heroes of the First World War" because their feats of individual combat could be easily romanticized, in contrast to the mass slaughter taking place in the trenches below.
The collection of essays isn't a narrative of what happened, even though its material is presented in roughly chronological order. Rather, it approaches the conflict from several angles and studies them up close. Readers who aren't familiar with the fundamentals of the conflict may want to look elsewhere for basic information--one writer, for instance, refers to the Zimmerman Telegram without explaining what it is. Those who know the basics, however, will find this book quickly rewarding. Good reading for armchair generals. --John J. MillerAbout the Author:
Hew Strachan is Professor of Modern History at the University of Glasgow, and Life Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. He is the author of The Politics of the British Army (OUP, 1997).
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