The World War I Reader

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Almost 100 years after the Treaty of Versailles was signed, World War I continues to be badly understood and greatly oversimplified. Its enormous impact on the world in terms of international diplomacy and politics, and the ways in which future military engagements would evolve, be fought, and ultimately get resolved have been ignored. With this reader of primary and secondary documents, edited and compiled by Michael S. Neiberg, students, scholars, and war buffs can gain an extensive yet accessible understanding of this conflict. Neiberg introduces the basic problems in the history of World War I, shares the words and experiences of the participants themselves, and, finally, presents some of the most innovative and dynamic current scholarship on the war.

Neiberg, a leading historian of World War I, has selected a wide array of primary documents, ranging from government papers to personal diaries, demonstrating the war’s devastating effect on all who experienced it, whether President Woodrow Wilson, an English doughboy in the trenches, or a housewife in Germany. In addition to this material, each chapter in The World War I Reader contains a selection of articles and book chapters written by major scholars of World War I, giving readers perspectives on the war that are both historical and contemporary. Chapters are arranged chronologically and by theme, and address causes, the experiences of soldiers and their leaders, battlefield strategies and conditions, home front issues, diplomacy, and peacemaking. A time-line, maps, suggestions for further reading, and a substantive introduction by Neiberg that lays out the historiography of World War I round out the book.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

There are scores of secondary and documentary sources on World War I soldiers and on the war itself, from its genesis to its concluding treaties. However, it is much more difficult to find one volume that contains a mix of primary and secondary sources covering all these topics. Neiberg (history, Univ. of Southern Mississippi; Fighting the Great War: A Global History) here offers an excellent primer for anyone studying the Great War. The book's strength is its scope. As they proceed from "Part One: Causes" to "Part Six: Peace" (with most sections offering two primary and two secondary sources), readers will learn from both sides about major leaders, the home front, soldiers and officers in battle, and the politics of peace. For secondary sources, Neiberg taps well-known historians such as David Trask and Dennis Showalter but also finds unique perspectives like Dale Blair's on American and Australian troop interactions and Jennifer Keene's look at U.S. military race relations. His primary sources include the perspectives of women and satirical novelists. The only small weakness is the omission of short author biographies, which would have given fuller context to his selections. Recommended for all academic libraries and larger public libraries.
—Bryan Craig

From the Publisher
The Great War of 1914-1918 is increasingly understood as the defining event of the twentieth century. . . . Neiberg has done a remarkable job of covering all the appropriate bases and tipping his intellectual hat to the major schools of thought past and present.”
-Dennis Showalter,author of Patton and Rommel: Men of War in the Twentieth Century

“This first-rate collection of primary documents and excerpts from leading historical works on World War I allows students to enter directly into current debates surrounding the war’s meaning and significance. These selections provide a window into the varied wartime experiences of statesmen, generals, women, and soldiers, challenging students to discard over-simplistic interpretations of the war.”
-Jennifer D. Keene,author of Doughboys, the Great War, and the Remaking of America

“. . . [A] valuable text to introduce students to the broad parameters of World War I. Students whose intellectual appetites are whetted by this collection will appreciate the extensive list of books matched to each category at the end of the book.”
-The Journal of Military History

“Neiberg offers an excellent primer for anyone studying the Great War. The book’s strength is its scope. As they proceed from ‘Part One: Causes’ to ‘Part Six: Peace’ (with most sections offering two primary and two secondary sources), readers will learn from both sides about major leaders, the home front, soldiers and officers in battle, and the politics of peace.”
-Library Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814758328
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/2006
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 7.20 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael S. Neiberg is the author of Fighting the Great War: A Global History, Foch: Allied Commander in the Great War, and Making Citizen-Soldiers: ROTC and the Ideology of American Military Service.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     ix
Maps     x
Timeline of Major Events     xv
Brief Biographies of Important Figures Mentioned in the Text     xvii
Introduction     1
The Great Illusion, 1910   Sir Norman Angell     25
Germany and the Next War$dGeneral Friedrich von Bernhardi     35
The "Willy-Nicky" Telegrams$dKaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia     46
The Circus Rider of Europe   Dennis Showalter     50
The Army and the Nationalist   Revival Douglas Porch     71
The Good Soldier Schweik   Jaroslav Hasek     91
Her Privates We   Frederic Manning     97
A Soldier's Notebook   Alexei Brusilov     109
Officer-Man Relations: The Other Ranks' Perspective   G. D. Sheffield     123
"War Enthusiasm": Volunteers, Departing Soldiers, and Victory Celebrations   Jeffrey Verhey     148
Foch's General Counteroffensive, Part I: 26 September to 23 October 1918   David Trask     158
The Destruction of Louvain   Leon van der Essen     175
The Historic First of July   Philip Gibbs     184
Between Mutiny and Obedience   Leonard V. Smith     195
The Live and Let Live System   Tony Ashworth     208
Home Fronts
Letters from a Lost Generation   Vera Brittain     227
An English Wife in Berlin   Evelyn Blucher     243
Home Fires Burning   Belinda J. Davis     252
The Politics of Race   Jennifer D. Keene     272
The End of the War
The Fourteen Points   President Woodrow Wilson     291
Views on a Prospective Armistice   Ferdinand Foch   John Pershing     294
The Military Collapse of the German Empire   Wilhelm Deist     297
Diggers and Doughboys: Australian and American Troop Interaction on the Western Front, 1918   Dale Blair     312
Peacemaking, 1919   Harold Nicolson     325
British Diplomacy: The Hussein-McMahon Letters$dSir Henry McMahon, British High Commissioner in Cairo, to Hussein Ibn Ali, the Sherif of Mecca     335
A Peace to End All Peace   David Fromkin     340
The Kings Depart   Richard Watt     348
Further Reading      367
Index     371
About the Editor     375
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