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Enduring the Great War: Combat, Morale and Collapse in the German and British Armies, 1914-1918 / Edition 1

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Overview

The aim of this new series is to publish outstanding works of research on warfare throughout the ages and throughout the world. Books in the series will take a broad approach to military history, examining war in all its military, strategic, political and economic aspects. The series is intended to complement Studies in the Social and Cultural History of Modern Warfare by focusing on the 'hard' military history of armies, tactics, strategy and warfare. Books in the series will consist mainly of single-author works - academically vigorous and groundbreaking - which will be accessible to both academics and the interested general reader.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Alexander Watson’s Enduring the Great War is certainly a must-read for all students of World War I, as well as those who write about it. Ably written and nicely illustrated, this study boasts an impressive depth of research in fifteen archives, repositories, and collections in Britain and Germany. ... [It] belongs on the shelf of any scholar who aspires to be current on the literature of twentieth-century Europe." Professor Eric Dorn Brose, Drexel University, History: Reviews of New Books

"A superbly researched monograph on a difficult subject ... as an instrument for further research on the subject, it is without parallel ... all university libraries will want to acquire it—as well as all departments of history and departments of British, German, and war studies." -Professor Antoine Capet, Université de Rouen, H-Net Reviews

"This is a new and fresh analysis of the performance of the British and German Armies on the Western Front drawing on post-war research, reports from censors and other contemporary official sources and diaries of combat veteran. It is replete with useful statistics and statistical analysis...." —Len Shurtleff, The Listening Post

"This is an extremely good book, which makes a significant contribution to the history of the First World War and to the wider study of combat effectiveness. Alexander Watson has analysed a wide range of primary sources in an original manner: the result is a stimulating work that will become required reading. … [His] ability to incorporate the information he has gathered in a readable volume is truly impressive. … This book blends military, social, cultural, and psychological history with panache. … It is to be hoped that it will be both example and provocation for further, similarly brilliant work, which will test its arguments and approach on other fronts and other nations." Dr. Dan Todman, Queen Mary University of London, War in History

"With its impressive use of archival evidence, its mastery of the relevant secondary literature, and its scrupulously fair-minded treatment of the German army, this book is well worth reading for anyone who seeks a glimpse inside the minds of the men, both British and German, who fought the Great War." Dr. Jesse Kauffman, Stanford University, H-Net

"an exciting comparative study". -TLS

"...an exhaustively researched, elegant, and argumentative book that deserves wide readership." -Adam R. Seipp, Military History

"This book represents an impressive achievement of research and argument." -Larry L. Ping, German Studies Review

Library Journal

Recent studies have indicated that war enthusiasm in 1914 was not as great among the belligerent populations as previously believed. Watson (research fellow, Clare Hall, Univ. of Cambridge) therefore examines why so many men willingly went to war and then analyzes how they endured it for so long. As he ably shows, most British and German soldiers went to war after September 1914 knowing it was going to be a long conflict and believed they were fighting to defend their homes. While he uses the sources of the historian, Watson also employs the methodological tools typical of the social psychologist. Interestingly, in his own investigation of the ability of soldiers to endure combat, he discovered that, both during the war and immediately after, military and medical professionals sought to understand the very same questions. In addition to motivation, Watson examines soldiers' coping mechanisms, as well as the role of junior officers in maintaining unit cohesion and discipline. Perhaps his most fascinating analysis is a comparison of the effects of the 1918 German offensive: British morale buckled but did not shatter, while German morale collapsed because of the failure of the offensive and from the suffering caused by extreme material shortages and the recognition that Germany could not win. Recommended for all libraries.
—Frederic Krome

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521881012
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 5/31/2008
  • Series: Cambridge Military Histories Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 306
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Alexander Watson is a Research Fellow at Clare Hall, University of Cambridge.

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Table of Contents

Introduction; 1. War of endurance; 2. Why men fought: combat motivation in the trenches; 3. Self-deception and survival: mental coping strategies; 4. Junior leadership: command, cohesion and combat motivation; 5. Morale and military endurance; 6. The German collapse in 1918: strike, mutiny or an ordered surrender?; Conclusion; Appendix 1. Walter Ludwig's study of Württemberg soldiers' coping strategies; Appendix 2. Psychiatric casualties in the German and British armies; Appendix 3. Military ranks and status in the German and British armies.

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