The First World War: A Complete History

Overview

The acclaimed British historian offers a majestic, single-volume work incorporating all major fronts-domestic, diplomatic, military-for "a stunning achievement of research and storytelling"

(Publishers Weekly)

It was to be the war to end all wars, and it began at 11:15 on the morning of June 28, 1914, in an outpost of the Austro-Hungarian Empire called Sarajevo. It would end officially almost five years later....

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The First World War: A Complete History

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Overview

The acclaimed British historian offers a majestic, single-volume work incorporating all major fronts-domestic, diplomatic, military-for "a stunning achievement of research and storytelling"

(Publishers Weekly)

It was to be the war to end all wars, and it began at 11:15 on the morning of June 28, 1914, in an outpost of the Austro-Hungarian Empire called Sarajevo. It would end officially almost five years later. Unofficially, it has never ended: the horrors we live with today were born in the First World War.

It left millions-civilians and soldiers-maimed or dead. And it left us with new technologies of death: tanks, planes, and submarines; reliable rapid-fire machine guns and field artillery; poison gas and chemical warfare. It introduced us to U-boat packs and strategic bombing, to unrestricted war on civilians and mistreatment of prisoners. Most of all, it changed our world. In its wake, empires toppled, monarchies fell, whole populations lost their national identities as political systems, and geographic boundaries were realigned. Instabilities were institutionalized, enmities enshrined. And the social order shifted seismically. Manners, mores, codes of behavior; literature and the arts; education and class distinctions-all underwent a vast sea change. And in all these ways, the twentieth century can be said to have been born on the morning of June 28, 1914.

"One of the first books that anyone should read in beginning to try to understand this war and this century."

-The New York Times Book Review (cover)

"All the ways Mr. Gilbert's The First World War brings the conflict home to people at the end of the twentieth century render it one of the first books that anyone should read in beginning to try to understand this war and this century."--John Milton Cooper, Jr., The New York Times Book Review. 80 photos. 31 maps.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Gilbert's (The Second World War) majestic opus covers WWI on all major fronts-domestic, diplomatic, military-as well as such bloody preludes as the Armenian massacre of 1915. He describes the introduction of new instruments of war like the submarine, airplane, tank, machine gun and poison gas, explaining how each was employed in great military confrontations such as Verdun and Jutland. He recounts the arrival of the American contingent (British and French brass tended at first to regard them as rabble) and Gen. John J. Pershing's struggle to prevent U.S. troops from being fed piecemeal into the maelstrom of the western front. Gilbert includes a large amount of contemporary war poetry and doggerel, which conveys the tragedy of the 1914-1918 conflict. On the whole, the author presents WWI from the human perspective, with emphasis on the grisliness and sheer waste of it. His account of the post-Armistice efforts of the international War Graves Commission starkly communicates the epic scale of the slaughter. By the distinguished biographer of Winston Churchill, this is a stunning achievement of research and storytelling on the war to end all wars. Illustrations. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Successfully using a blend of contemporary accounts and overview narrative, Gilbert (The Churchill War Papers, LJ 5/1/93) has produced a readable, one-volume account of the Great War. The impact of new technologies and tactics on humankind is best illustrated by the author's portrayal of the individual suffering of the generation lost in the conflict. The deaths of the sons and sons-in-law of political and military leaders from all sides exemplifies the extent and tragedy of the loss. The effect of the war on future leaders such as Hitler, Himmler, Churchill, and De Gaulle is shown through their experiences in this war. Profusely illustrated and containing 50 maps, this book is a fine companion volume to the author's The Second World War (Holt, 1989). Recommended for all collections.-David Lee Poremba, Detroit P.L.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805076172
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/1/2004
  • Edition description: Second Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 688
  • Sales rank: 266,916
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 5.90 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Sir Martin Gilbert was knighted in 1995 "for services to British history and international relations." Among his many books are The Righteous (0-8050-6260-2), The Holocaust (0-8050-0348-7), The Day the War Ended (0-8050-4735-2), and Churchill: A Life (0-8050-2396-8). He lives in London, England.

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Table of Contents

List of maps
List of illustrations
Introduction
Acknowledgements
1 Prelude to war 1
2 'Wild with joy' 16
3 The Opening struggle 35
4 From Mons to the Marne 55
5 Digging in: the start of trench warfare 78
6 Towards the first Christmas: 'mud and slime and vermin' 100
7 Stalemate and the search for breakthroughs 114
8 The Gallipoli landings 146
9 The Entente in danger 154
10 The Central Powers in the ascendant 176
11 The continuing failure of the Entente 196
12 'This war will end at Verdun' 224
13 'Europe is mad. The world is mad.' 244
14 The Battle of the Somme: 'It is going to be a bloody holocaust' 258
15 War on every front 282
16 The intensification of the war 301
17 War, desertion, mutiny 324
18 Stalemate in the west, turmoil in the east 343
19 Battle at Passchendaele; Revolution in Russia 363
20 The terms of war and peace 375
21 The Central Powers on the verge of triumph 393
22 Germany's last great onslaught 406
23 'The battle, the battle, nothing else counts' 416
24 The Allied counter-attack 431
25 The turn of the tide 454
26 The collapse of the Central Powers 473
27 The final armistice 497
28 Peacemaking and remembrance 505
29 '.... to the memory of that great company' 525
Bibliography 544
Maps 555
Index 583
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2008

    A fine historical work.

    Gilbert's detailed, chronological survey of World War I should be dubbed the 'cornerstone' of works regarding this subject. The author covers all aspects of the war which caused an estimated 9 million military and 5 million civilian deaths. Most Europeans expected the war to be of short duration and many mistakenly looked forward to participating in it. These naive attitudes changed by the wars end, as death, chaos, and mans inhumanity toward man caused many peoples to regret the decisions that contributed to such catastrophic worldwide loses. The book is 573 pages with additional pictures and maps. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and highly recommend it to anyone interested in history.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2003

    Awesome History of WWI

    This book has it all. The author is thoroughly engrossed in this topic and you benefit. It's comprehensive coverage includes many personal accounts from soldiers, leaders and the like. It is structured in a strictly chronological fashion providing a detailed account of the progress of the war. If you want to understand this war and what happened, this is the book. The numerous footnotes and the extensive bibliography make you appreciate the amazing amount of work the author went through to distill it all into one book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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