Customer Reviews for

The First World War

Average Rating 4
( 21 )
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(7)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

Truly excellent book

This book was great for me, especially since I didn't know the causes of World War I as much as for WWII. Keegan gives a full explanation of the incident that triggered it and the context behind all of it. Then, he provides an excellent account of the war f...
This book was great for me, especially since I didn't know the causes of World War I as much as for WWII. Keegan gives a full explanation of the incident that triggered it and the context behind all of it. Then, he provides an excellent account of the war from the first days to the very end. He also tells us more about the most important men involved in it without forgetting to tell us about more than just the battles and their technical side. This book is a great overview of the conflict, its causes, its meaning and its consequences.

posted by Anonymous on May 1, 2000

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Most Helpful Critical Review

6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

Like WW-I, Keegan is a long slog.

Started by trying to listen to the CD: Ugh!!! Worst I've ever heard!
Prebble is mush-mouthed. And what's worse, the content/context of the text he is reading is such that without the 15 maps included in the printed version, one is quickly lost among movements of obs...
Started by trying to listen to the CD: Ugh!!! Worst I've ever heard!
Prebble is mush-mouthed. And what's worse, the content/context of the text he is reading is such that without the 15 maps included in the printed version, one is quickly lost among movements of obscurely-named divisions and armies advancing to and retreating from equally obscure villages, rivers and mountains.

So, alas, I was forced (by curiosity and a burning desire to find maps of what the hell Keegan's talking about) to the used bookstore.

There, having confirmed that, indeed, Keegan (or, more likely, his editor) had the sense/decency to include the aforementioned 15 maps in the book, I purchased a copy.

Yeah, Keegan covers the whole four years, including the basic events which led to its unnecessary start. But, alas, I believe that many, many authors have done so more logically, cogently and readably: See Barbara Tuchman's "The Guns of August" and, for the battles on the Gallipoli peninsula (and the key to success/failure, the sea-battles in the Dardanelles and Sea of Marmara -- facets which Keegan almost completely ignores), see Alan Moorehead's "Gallipoli".

Then there is Keegan's voice, which is often confusing, with verbs, adverbs, and modifying phrases reversed in order or distantly removed from their object in long, convoluted sentences not familiar to the ear expecting standard English. Sentences more reminiscent of Faulkner than of Hemingway. Thus, Keegan's points, perhaps critical to the outcome of a given action or subsequent reaction, are often obscurely or overly referenced and conditioned, though apparently not intended to be under-emphasized, through the insertion of names, places, dates, ground conditions, weather, preceding events, or other numerous and relevent (or not) facts, are lost.

If you like that previous sentence, you'll love Keegan!

I speculate that Keegan dictated the text, and that it was only lightly edited. On several occasions, facts are repeated verbatim three or four pages apart. His references to direction - north, south, east and west - and to rivers, towns or other landmarks are often inconsistent with those implied by the maps. Are the maps wrong? Is Keegan picturing a battle in his mind which does not match reality?

I got through it. But as a result, I am convinced that there was a whole lot more to (and perhaps a whole lot different than) World War I than Keegan tells us -- or perhaps than he knows.

--- gwg

posted by otwgwg on February 21, 2011

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  • Posted February 21, 2011

    Like WW-I, Keegan is a long slog.

    Started by trying to listen to the CD: Ugh!!! Worst I've ever heard!
    Prebble is mush-mouthed. And what's worse, the content/context of the text he is reading is such that without the 15 maps included in the printed version, one is quickly lost among movements of obscurely-named divisions and armies advancing to and retreating from equally obscure villages, rivers and mountains.

    So, alas, I was forced (by curiosity and a burning desire to find maps of what the hell Keegan's talking about) to the used bookstore.

    There, having confirmed that, indeed, Keegan (or, more likely, his editor) had the sense/decency to include the aforementioned 15 maps in the book, I purchased a copy.

    Yeah, Keegan covers the whole four years, including the basic events which led to its unnecessary start. But, alas, I believe that many, many authors have done so more logically, cogently and readably: See Barbara Tuchman's "The Guns of August" and, for the battles on the Gallipoli peninsula (and the key to success/failure, the sea-battles in the Dardanelles and Sea of Marmara -- facets which Keegan almost completely ignores), see Alan Moorehead's "Gallipoli".

    Then there is Keegan's voice, which is often confusing, with verbs, adverbs, and modifying phrases reversed in order or distantly removed from their object in long, convoluted sentences not familiar to the ear expecting standard English. Sentences more reminiscent of Faulkner than of Hemingway. Thus, Keegan's points, perhaps critical to the outcome of a given action or subsequent reaction, are often obscurely or overly referenced and conditioned, though apparently not intended to be under-emphasized, through the insertion of names, places, dates, ground conditions, weather, preceding events, or other numerous and relevent (or not) facts, are lost.

    If you like that previous sentence, you'll love Keegan!

    I speculate that Keegan dictated the text, and that it was only lightly edited. On several occasions, facts are repeated verbatim three or four pages apart. His references to direction - north, south, east and west - and to rivers, towns or other landmarks are often inconsistent with those implied by the maps. Are the maps wrong? Is Keegan picturing a battle in his mind which does not match reality?

    I got through it. But as a result, I am convinced that there was a whole lot more to (and perhaps a whole lot different than) World War I than Keegan tells us -- or perhaps than he knows.

    --- gwg

    6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2014

    Story interesting but poorly written

    The story is interesting even after almost 100 years, but the author abuses English grammar badly. For example, he commonly splits compound verbs not just with a single adverb (bad enough), but by phrases and even sentences, so that the subject noun is separated by its verb by as many as 4 and 5 lines of the writing. Moreover, faulty reference is common. Both examples (and a number of others could be cited) result in difficult reading, and the need to re-read many of the sentences and even paragraphs. And that is demanding too much patience from the reader. Obviously, Keegan needs a much better, and possibly more forceful reviewer/editor.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 4, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    When he writes of the common soldiers caught in the endless horr

    When he writes of the common soldiers caught in the endless horror of WW1, Keegan's writing comes alive with compassion, but his portraits of the generals lack depth and we don't get to know them as individuals. Another flaw is his uneven coverage of the conflict; although the Russian and French fronts well, he neglects much of the action in other theaters. He begins to tell of the war in Africa, leaves it, and never returns. He also says little of the events in the Middle East, a struggle that set the stage for today’s Arab-Israeli tensions. By no means is this a bad book, but I recommend G. J. Meyer’s A world Undone as a better starting place for the average reader or student.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 5, 2009

    Generally good, but a little dry

    I listen to a lot of audio books; this is the fastest narrated one I have yet heard. The speed was less than ideal for the complex subject material, which tended to the dry side with its details of military maneuvers. The book is recommended more for those who specialize in military history, especially strategy and tactics, than it is for the general public.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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