World War One: A Short History

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Overview


The First World War was the overwhelming disaster from which everything else in the twentieth century stemmed. Fourteen million combatants died, four empires were destroyed, and even the victors’ empires were fatally damaged. World War I took humanity from the nineteenth century forcibly into the twentieth—and then, at Versailles, cast Europe on the path to World War II as well.

In World War One, Norman Stone, one of the world’s greatest historians, has achieved the almost ...

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Overview


The First World War was the overwhelming disaster from which everything else in the twentieth century stemmed. Fourteen million combatants died, four empires were destroyed, and even the victors’ empires were fatally damaged. World War I took humanity from the nineteenth century forcibly into the twentieth—and then, at Versailles, cast Europe on the path to World War II as well.

In World War One, Norman Stone, one of the world’s greatest historians, has achieved the almost impossible task of writing a terse and witty short history of the war. A captivating, brisk narrative, World War One is Stone’s masterful effort to make sense of one of the twentieth century’s pivotal conflicts.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Military Review
“Stone’s book is a good overview of the war and worth reading.”

H-Net Reviews
“The narrative has a rich sense of immediacy, accentuated with intimate details, as if Stone knew each figure personally.… Throw in a handful of references to poems, films, and novels both contemporary and modern, as Stone does, add dashes of jaunty, scornful judgments, and the result is indeed a literary tour de force. The phrase ‘cannot put it down’ does indeed come to mind.”

Publishers Weekly

Stone is as unconventional as he is brilliant, and this provocative interpretation of the Great War combines impressive command of the literature with a telling eye for relevant facts and a sensitive ear for telling epigrams. Stone presents a Europe that in 1914 bestrode the world like the proverbial colossus. Four years later, the continent faced a spectrum of disasters: shattered economies, shattered societies, shattered lives and shattered illusions. Stone demonstrates the contingent nature of the war's outbreak and analyzes the continued failure to achieve decision on the Western Front until 1917. Stone specializes in Great War Russia, does a first-rate job of presenting the consequences of the collapse of four empires: Hapsburg, German, tsarist and Ottoman. He challenges current interpretations of the postwar treaties, presenting them as a list of failures. The attempt to integrate the world economy collapsed. The postwar expansion of colonial empires proved ephemeral. The League of Nations "declined into irrelevance." Stone reserves his harshest criticism for the punitive terms imposed on a Germany convinced neither of its defeat nor the injustice of its cause. That, he asserts convincingly, laid the groundwork for a second, more terrible conflict. Photos, maps. (May)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

The distinguished Stone (history, Bilken Univ., Ankara, Turkey; The Eastern Front: 1914-1917) has compressed five years of war into admirably terse and effective prose. While full of bons mots, this volume is so compressed that it will probably not be accessible as a primer but could serve as a capstone for advanced study. It should be a part of everyone's World War I collection.
—Edwin Burgess

Kirkus Reviews
The First World War in fewer than 250 pages. Stone (History/Bilkent Univ.; Europe Transformed, 1878-1919, 1984, etc.) tackles the daunting task of summarizing a four-year global conflict in a brief cohesive narrative. For the most part he succeeds, astutely weaving together events from the Eastern, Western and Middle Eastern fronts until their culmination at Brest-Litovsk and the Treaty of Versailles; his almost complete omission of the African front is the one major lapse. The author's prose is anecdotal and overly colloquial, but his command of the subject matter is impressive and his style accessible. Stone's German-centric approach to framing the war balances the interplay between the Eastern and Western fronts, which would prove central to Germany's eventual capitulation. Yet the author also abides by the conventional view of sole German responsibility that would wreak so much havoc during the negotiations at Versailles; he notes in the opening chapter that "Berlin was waiting for ‘the inevitable accident.' " While other powers struggled with internal nationalist movements throughout the war, most notably in the Russian, Hapsburg and Ottoman empires, Germany was a nation-state trying to move in the other direction and establish an empire. Stone juxtaposes the German high command's zeal against its failure to reconcile traditional cavalry-based warfare with new developments in technology. British and French military leaders made the same mistake, which proved to be one of the main factors in prolonging the dreaded stalemates and trench warfare that consumed so many lives. The author skims over some fascinating cultural elements, including the tremendous outpouring of trench literatureand poetry, but he manages to address every military and political facet of the Great War in this welcome look at its manifestations beyond the Western Front. A stimulating, easily digested introduction to the cataclysm that inaugurated the 20th century. Agent: Caroline Michel/PFD
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465019182
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 4/27/2010
  • Edition description: First Trade Paper Edition
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 546,471
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author


Norman Stone is the author of World War One, The Eastern Front 1914-1917 (winner of the Wolfson Prize), and Europe Transformed. He has taught at the universities of Cambridge, Oxford, and Bilkent, where he is now Director of the Turkish-Russian Center. He lives in Oxford and Istanbul.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 25, 2009

    Decent historical book depicting very top-level overview of war. Very dry reading but it was a history book that was short and to the point about the general events of the war.

    Good historical depiction of very top-level overview of the war. Good discussion of what went on with both sides of the war. Very dry reading based pretty much on historical layout of what happened during the war. Some good observations about what drove the war and why it turned into such a bloodbath with mostly indecisive actions occuring. It could sometimes get hard to follow with many names of people and places being thrown out quickly. It would be a decent first book to read on WWI and was a very quick read.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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