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The First World Warby John Keegan
Synopses & ReviewsPlease note that used books may not include additional media (study guides, CDs, DVDs, solutions manuals, etc.) as described in the publisher comments.
The First World War created the modern world. A conflict of unprecedented ferocity, it abruptly ended the relative peace and prosperity of the Victorian era, unleashing such demons of the twentieth century as mechanized warfare and mass death. It also helped to usher in the ideas that have shaped our times — modernism in the arts, new approaches to psychology and medicine, radical thoughts about economics and society — and in so doing shattered the faith in rationalism and liberalism that had prevailed in Europe since the Enlightenment. With The First World War, John Keegan, one of our most eminent military historians, fulfills a lifelong ambition to write the definitive account of the Great War for our generation.
Probing the mystery of how a civilization at the height of its achievement could have propelled itself into such a ruinous conflict, Keegan takes us behind the scenes of the negotiations among Europe's crowned heads (all of them related to one another by blood) and ministers, and their doomed efforts to defuse the crisis. He reveals how, by an astonishing failure of diplomacy and communication, a bilateral dispute grew to engulf an entire continent.
But the heart of Keegan's superb narrative is, of course, his analysis of the military conflict. With unequalled authority and insight, he recreates the nightmarish engagements whose names have become legend — Verdun, the Somme and Gallipoli among them — and sheds new light on the strategies and tactics employed, particularly the contributions of geography and technology. No less central to Keegan's account is the human aspect. He acquaints us with the thoughts of the intriguing personalities who oversaw the tragically unnecessary catastrophe — from heads of state like Russia's hapless tsar, Nicholas II, to renowned warmakers such as Haig, Hindenburg and Joffre. But Keegan reserves his most affecting personal sympathy for those whose individual efforts history has not recorded — "the anonymous millions, indistinguishably drab, undifferentially deprived of any scrap of the glories that by tradition made the life of the man-at-arms tolerable."
By the end of the war, three great empires — the Austro-Hungarian, the Russian and the Ottoman — had collapsed. But as Keegan shows, the devastation ex-tended over the entirety of Europe, and still profoundly informs the politics and culture of the continent today. His brilliant, panoramic account of this vast and terrible conflict is destined to take its place among the classics of world history.
With 24 pages of photographs, 2 endpaper maps, and 15 maps in text.
"Eloquent....Mr. Keegan captures the anamolous, even surreal quality of the war." The New York Times
"The best one-volume account there is." Civilization
"Undoubtedly the world's most accessible and popular military historian." Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Elegantly written, clear, detailed, and omniscient....Keegan is...perhaps the best military historian of our day." The New York Times Book Review
"Magisterial....A miracle of concision." The Weekly Standard (U.K.)
"An epic tale....Makes us keenly aware of how battles are fought, won, and lost." Fortune
"[R]iveting....Keegan leaves us with a brilliant, panoramic portrait of an epic struggle that was at once noble and futile, world-shaking and pathetic." Publishers Weekly
"A masterpiece." GQ
"[S]terling....A narrative that yields insight at every turn on this near-endless stalemate, as well as serving as an object lesson on the dark mysteries that await even those best-prepared for war." Kirkus Reviews
"John Keegan is a military historian, perhaps the best military historian of our day, and his new history of the war exemplifies his many strengths. [The First World War] is elegantly written, clear, detailed and omniscient. As a narrative [The First World War] is outstanding, telling the story of how the war began, how it was fought, why it was won by the Allies. Above all, Keegan conveys how it felt." The New York Times Book Review
In the definitive account of the Great War, Keegan sheds fascinating light on weaponry and technology; shows the doomed negotiations between the monarchs and ministers of 1914; and takes readers into the verminous trenches of the Western front. Photos.
A dynamic social history commemorating the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I
General readers and history buffs alike have made bestsellers of books like A History of the World in 100 Objects. In that tradition, this handsome commemorative volume gives a unique perspective on one of the most pivotal and volatile events of modern history.
In World War I in 100 Objects, military historian Peter Doyle shares a fascinating collection of items, from patriotic badges worn by British citizens to field equipment
developed by the United States. Beautifully photographed, each item is accompanied by the unique story it tells about the war, its strategy, its innovations, and the people who fought it.
About the Author
John Keegan's books include The First World War, The Battle for History, The Face of Battle, War and Our World, The Mask of Command, Fields of Battle, and A History of Warfare. He is the defense editor of The Daily Telegraph (London). He lives in Wiltshire, England.
Table of Contents
Map List 9
Introduction: The Coming of War 14
The variety of historical explanation
Making a choice
Ch. 1 1914 30
The plans of war
The plans in action
The onset of stalemate
The persistence of stalemate
Ch. 2 1915 50
The limits on choice
The Eastern Front in profile
Germany strikes east
Italy to war
The elimination of Serbia
Travail on the Western Front
The limits of accomplishment
Ch. 3 Peripheries 76
The expanding conflict
Action in the Pacific
The war in Africa
Mesopotamia and Palestine
Summing up the sideshows
Ch. 4 1916 96
Germany faces west
The Entente makes decisions
Supplying the armies
End of the day
Ch. 5 1917 130
The U-boat campaign
Gains and losses
Ch. 6 1918 160
Ludendorff's choice: the east
Ludendorff's choice: the west
The great reversal
Conclusion: The Peace Settlement and Beyond 200
The issue of compensation
Disappointments and accomplishments
The failure of enforcement
Biographical details 214
Further reading 218
Picture credits 224
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