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The World Crisis 1911-1918 (The World Crisis complete)

4.27  ·  Rating Details ·  263 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
Winston Churchill’s superlative account of the prelude to and events of the First World War is a defining work of twentieth-century history. With dramatic narrative power Churchill reconstructs the action on the Western and Eastern Fronts, the wars at sea and in the air and the advent of tanks and U-boats. He vividly describes the Lusitania’s sinking, the heroics of the Ba ...more
Paperback, Penguin Classics
Published May 3rd 2007 by Penguin Classics (first published 1931)
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Jean Poulos
It is the one hundredth anniversary of World War One and I have been busy reading the newly published works on the subject. I thought I should go into my own library and re-read Winston Churchill’s book on the subject, “The World Crisis 1911-1918”. Winston Churchill’s reputation rest above all on his leadership during the Second World War. Churchill not only made history but he also wrote it. He earned his living as an author/historian and won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953. The book is ...more
Mikey B.
Extremely well written with very logical explanations from the fated Dardanelles expedition to the technicalities of submarine warfare.

There are many passages that simply sparkle with Churchillian language and rhetoric. The strongest passages are when Churchill describes the broad outlines of the war like the shaky alliance with Russia and Italy. He also shows an excellent grasp of the overall European scope of the war – something that would serve him well in the coming years. He is not solely c
Paul Duggan
Aug 15, 2014 Paul Duggan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is an essential part of understanding The Great War and its world-wide complexities. Other reviewers have done a great job; I would only add that this volume added greatly to my understanding of that cataclysmic event encompassing not only the fronts and battles, but especially the behind the scenes actions of the British Admiralty and War Office.

Also, the details of the strategic issues in the East - Bulgaria, Roumania (sic) and the Balkans - were new to me.

He perhaps spends too much
Kevin J. Rogers
Feb 04, 2008 Kevin J. Rogers rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of history and great historical writing.
Winston Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty during much of World War I, and hangs this history on his personal recollections and involvement, giving it an immediacy and personality not often achieved in historical writing. Churchill himself was an excellent writer (he eventually won the Nobel Prize for Literature) and is at the top of his form in this comprehensive two-volume study of The Great War. Later historians have disputed some of his facts and conclusions, and he has been occasiona ...more
A work in 6 volumes that contentiously holds the title of the "most comprehensive" history of the war. A modern abridgment (clocking in at around 850 pages, linked above) is readily available, and well worth a look. There are significant debates within WWI historiography about Churchill's judgments and biases, so it would be worth looking into them as well before taking everything within the book at face value. I'll have some books that would help with this in the Debates section below.
Adam DeVille, Ph.D.
Some of his sneering critics said of this book that "Winston's written his autobiography disguised as a history of the universe." But this is a big book treating the First World War in which Churchill would play such a significant part until 1915 and the Dardanelles disaster, and then again later in Lloyd George's cabinet.
Nick Black
Dec 03, 2007 Nick Black rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Winston Churchill claims invention of the tank, which I must say seems a rather obvious insight given the following starter facts:

- moving beats standing still, especially in no-man's-land
- internal combustion engines: stronger than horses
- machine guns hurt, even if you live on a silly island with a king
Oct 02, 2016 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nobels, nonfiction
Nobel Week is approaching fast, and there is a unique literature laureate waiting impatiently for me to give him credit for his opus magnum.

Dear Mr Churchill, it took me years to read your book, please bear with me while I collect my thoughts for a moment at least.

What can be said of this brick of a book, telling the story of the World Crisis, culminating in the Great War 1914-1918, as perceived by one of its witnesses and active participants?

Is it biased? Yes, massively!

Are there inaccuracies?
Oct 09, 2016 Peter added it
Shelves: history, insightful
Parts of the prose are unmistakably Winstonian; other parts appear to be less so, so it will be interesting to have a look in the future at the unabridged version.

p761 - :-o
Sep 28, 2016 Phil rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Here's my advice: don't use this book to learn the history of WWI. In fact, go out and read a history of WWI before you read this. Better yet, read five.

The World Crisis was not noted for its objectivity in its day: almost every review you'll read of this book on Goodreads will note Balfour's comment to the effect that the book was Churchill's "autobiography" masquerading as a history of the world. So, if you do desire to read this without ample context, do so forewarned that you are reading th
Feb 11, 2015 Bryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This is an excellent book by one of the giants of history. I'm a big fan of Churchill, and, having read the three volume work of Manchester (highly recommended) and some other scattered books about him, I wanted to read a book by him (I've already read most of his inspiring speeches). After reading this book, I have to conclude that Churchill is a master of the written word, as his mastery of the English language is evident in every sentence, making this book is a joy to read. The subject matter ...more
John C. Fries
Feb 11, 2016 John C. Fries rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Churchill was the civilian head of the British Navy (First Lord of the Admiralty) prior to and for the first two years of World War I. This book, written in 1931, benefits from Churchill's full access to French and British high command thinking at every turn (not to mention his own participation as a senior war leader), as well as the documents and biographies of the German General Staff, including the correspondence of several key Generals, released after the War was concluded. Throughout, Chur ...more
Aug 27, 2014 Kent rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whew...thank god for abridgements...Churchill's writing style can be described as magnificent (and perhaps rightly grandiloquent) and at times reading it I understood the comment attributed to Alfred Balfour that reading it was like reading Churchill's autobiography disguised as a history of the universe (from Wikipedia). Manchester considered The World Crisis to be Churchill's masterpiece. Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty from the beginning of the War in 1914 through May 1915 and the a ...more
Edith Carter
Written 90 years ago about an event that happened 100 years ago, prepare to Google several times per page to have any clue as to what Churchill is communicating. (He was writing to an audience that would have known WWI, its lead up, and its aftermath as recent events.)

A good idea might be to read a good contemporary WWI book first. A modern author would be more likely to fill in the memory gaps left by time. But, if you have the patience for all that, this can be a rewarding read.

I'm planning
I actually finished Volume One about a month ago and am nearly finished Volume Two. It seemed to me that Churchill had to use the first volume to defend his decisions as First Lord of the Admiralty, having started writing these books shortly after the end of the war. And rightfully so, because a lot was written both during and after the war holding him solely responsible for the Dardanelles in particular. I am eager to finish all the volumes, not only to actually learn about the First World War, ...more
Aug 16, 2012 Andrew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There's a reason Churchill won the Nobel Prize for Literature. As usual, his writing is both insightful, informative and edged with just enough Churchillian wit. This book covers his experience in the British Cabinet during World War I. While not as compelling as his writings on WWII (for obvious reaons perhaps) the history was extremely well done. What I can't figure out is how Churchill found the time to be such a prolific writer with all that he did in his life. Definitely recommended for any ...more
Oct 08, 2012 Andy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a first hand view of the first world war from the man that played a major role in it. Churchill talks candidly about the mistakes that were made (including Gallipoli which he refuses to take the blame for) and the missed opportunities to end the war early. Ominously, at the end of the book he admonishes the Allies for the harsh treatment meted out to the Germans at the end of the war. And warns of the terrible consequences this may bring in the future. He wrote this prediction in 1922 an ...more
Nov 13, 2007 Larry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: person interested in WW One or in Churchill's wonderful language.
This book is interesting but not recommended to all. The positive is Churchill's views on some of the politics and flaws of coalition government in the UK during war. Also his broad view of events, like the need to attack Turkey at the time it did to relieve pressure on Russia and on the Western Front. His view of the war as a whole is also interesting. Much of the book though is devoted to clearing Churchill's record and much of this discussion seems self-serving.
Brian Hischier
Aug 15, 2007 Brian Hischier is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
This book marks the turning point from War-as-Profession to War-as-Hobby. No longer can a child say, "Daddy, where do you work?" and daddy replies, "War." Instead, on weekends and evenings, as daddy heads into his garage and pulls down the door, the child is left to ask his mother, "Mommy, what is daddy doing?" and she replies, with a dish towel in one hand and a quickly spotting glass in the other, "War."
Sep 21, 2012 Barry rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
While it's undoubtedly magisterial, authoritative, weighty (especially after the dog nudged it into the pool *sigh*) and comprehensive it's also too close to the events. There's too much self-justification, too much defense of decisions he made and not enough detached reflection. Personally I needed a history with more analysis and detachment. You pays your money and makes your choice.
I guess it fits the definition of a classic as a book you want to have read, not a book you want to read.
Jul 24, 2014 Arlomisty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military-history
One of the best books I've read in a long time. It was a "heavy" book with lots of detail, but so very interesting right up to the last page. This is the third or fourth Winston Churchill book I've read and I've never been disappointed in any of his books. If you want to learn more about the who's, what's, and causes of World War I I would highly recommend this book!
May 27, 2013 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting book. It was interesting to read Churchill's own opinion of the Dardenelles Operation. He thinks that Lord Kitchener and Admiral de Roebeck did not do what they should have done. However, like Churchill says nothing is predictable in war, so if they had followed the Naval plan, it may not of worked. He says it just had more factors for it than the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.
Aug 02, 2015 Jlarson rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
"Abridged" (1 is not equal to 5)
This needs to be clearly stated in every listing and review that this is a single volume abridgement of a 5 volume, 6 book series (Volume 3 has 2 parts). Those people who highly rated it might want to consider what they missed.
Tom Schulte
Sep 22, 2011 Tom Schulte rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Churchill's love of the subject and knowledge make this work a great, easy read. I learned a lot and I love the way he goes back to Shakespeare and other literature to speak to historical veracity while reveling in the language...
Marcia King
Jun 30, 2016 Marcia King rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent look before WWI and 1914. Churchill has the ultimate insider point of view. Some insight into Dardanelles debacle. Note, this book is extremely detailed especially naval battles since WSC was Admiralty Lord.
Aug 11, 2013 Norm rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
limited perspective review of WW1 (runup and initial 4 months) from an Admiralty perspective - beautifully written in classic English prose.
Nick Jellicoe
Very often mis-states the facts and large sections are ghost written (for example, Kenneth Dewar wrote much of the chapter on the battle of Jutland).
Cameron.domer rated it liked it
Jun 15, 2011
Simon rated it it was amazing
Apr 16, 2012
Mark Geoffrey
Mark Geoffrey rated it it was amazing
Jan 03, 2017
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Great War (1914-1...: The World Crisis 1911-1918 3 8 11 hours, 21 min ago  
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Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, KG, OM, CH, TD, FRS, PC (Can) was a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945, and again from 1951 to 1955. A noted statesman, orator and strategist, Churchill was also an officer in the British Army. A prolific author, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953 for his own historical writings, "for his mastery ...more
More about Winston S. Churchill...

Other Books in the Series

The World Crisis (6 books)
  • The World Crisis, Volume I: 1911-1914
  • The World Crisis, Volume II: 1915
  • The World Crisis, Volume III: 1916-1918, Part I
  • The World Crisis, Volume IV: 1916-1918, Part II
  • The World Crisis, Volume IV: The Aftermath
  • The World Crisis, Volume V: The Eastern Front

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