The First World War

The First World War Review

The First World War created the modern world. A conflict of unprecedented ferocity, it abruptly ended the relative peace and prosperity of the Victorian era, unleashing such demons of the twentieth century as mechanized warfare and mass death. It also helped to usher in the ideas that have shaped our times--modernism in the arts, new approaches to psychology and medicine, radical thoughts about economics and society--and in so doing shattered the faith in rationalism and liberalism that had prevailed in Europe since the Enlightenment. With The First World War, John Keegan, one of our most eminent military historians, fulfills a lifelong ambition to write the definitive account of the Great War for our generation.

Probing the mystery of how a civilization at the height of its achievement could have propelled itself into such a ruinous conflict, Keegan takes us behind the scenes of the negotiations among Europe's crowned heads (all of them related to one another by blood) and ministers, and their doomed efforts to defuse the crisis. He reveals how, by an astonishing failure of diplomacy and communication, a bilateral dispute grew to engulf an entire continent.

But the heart of Keegan's superb narrative is, of course, his analysis of the military conflict. With unequalled authority and insight, he recreates the nightmarish engagements whose names have become legend--Verdun, the Somme and Gallipoli among them--and sheds new light on the strategies and tactics employed, particularly the contributions of geography and technology. No less central to Keegan's account is the human aspect. He acquaints us with the thoughts of the intriguing personalities who oversaw the tragically unnecessary catastrophe--from heads of state like Russia's hapless tsar, Nicholas II, to renowned warmakers such as Haig, Hindenburg and Joffre. But Keegan reserves his most affecting personal sympathy for those whose individual efforts history has not recorded--"the anonymous millions, indistinguishably drab, undifferentially deprived of any scrap of the glories that by tradition made the life of the man-at-arms tolerable."

By the end of the war, three great empires--the Austro-Hungarian, the Russian and the Ottoman--had collapsed. But as Keegan shows, the devastation ex-tended over the entirety of Europe, and still profoundly informs the politics and culture of the continent today. His brilliant, panoramic account of this vast and terrible conflict is destined to take its place among the classics of world history.

With 24 pages of photographs, 2 endpaper maps, and 15 maps in text

Title:The First World War

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    The First World War Reviews

  • Matt

    As I’ve often proclaimed my deep and abiding love of history, it is somewhat difficult for me to admit that my knowledge of the great upheaval of World War I is about the size of a teacup pig. Now, ...

  • Riku Sayuj

    An agricultural labourer, who hasA wife and four children, receives 20s a week.3/4 buys food, and the members of the familyHave three meals a day. How much is that per person per meal?***. . . The ...

  • Warwick

    Keegan's history of the First World War opens, unexpectedly, by talking about Adolf Hitler, and what I liked about this book was the way it presented 1914–18 as just the opening convulsions in a lon...

  • fourtriplezed

    Author John Keegan gives the impression late in this very good book that he held the Kaiser partially responsible for the Great War as he embarked on a pointless attempt to match Britain’s maritime ...

  • Lizzy

    John Keegan’s The First World War couldn't be better as an introduction to the theme. Yes, it was my first book about World War I. I have to confess that I was practically ignorant beforehand. Only ...

  • Jonfaith

    1) One shouldn't read compact one volume surveys of epic events. It is safe to assume that The First World War meets the criteria of epic event. Any single volume will only distort and compact events....

  • Jill Hutchinson

    Only a historian as talented as Keegan could tell the whole story of WWI in 400+ pages....an amazing feat. But he does it with style and readability, even though the first several chapters are dry as ...

  • 'Aussie Rick'

    Once again John Keegan has produced another well written and researched book to add to his growing number of titles. This is an excellent one volume account of the Great War which the novice or experi...

  • Elliot

    The First World War by John Keegan is an excellent one-volume treatment of the Great War. I read this book because I felt my knowledge of World War I left much to be desired. I wanted to get a good un...

  • Dan

    Widely considered one of the finest analyses on WW1. You won’t find many quotes or first hand accounts of the soldiers here. But what you will find are excellent summaries and insights on the panopl...