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A Short History of World War I
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A Short History of World War I

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  312 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
World War I was a bloodletting so vast and unprecedented that for a generation it was known simply as the Great War. Casualty lists reached unimagined proportions as the same ground -- places like Ypres and the Somme -- was fought over again and again. Other major bloody battles remain vivid in memory to this day: Gallipoli and the Battle of Jutland are but two examples. E ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published February 1st 1981 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published January 1st 1981)
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Matt Kuhns
Mar 30, 2013 Matt Kuhns rated it it was amazing
This was an assigned textbook for a military history course I took during my final year of college. Unsurprisingly, I completed the entire course without ever sitting down and reading this or any of the other assigned works, instead simply skimming for what information I needed (and showing up to all of the marvelously entertaining lectures).

Some time after graduation, however, I had time on my hands and actually decided to try reading the book. It has been one of my favorites ever since.

I am no
Dec 14, 2009 Ctstough rated it it was amazing
The best short history on WWI written. If you are looking for a well written military history, that balances a good narrative with accurate history, you've come to the right place. This book will give you an excellent overview of all theaters of the conflict,as well as the strategies, tactics and personalities of WWI. The book's shortcoming is in the maps, which are a poor supplement to the text.
Writing a readable military history (with an emphasis on good history) is a daunting task and an art
Peter Herrmann
May 13, 2017 Peter Herrmann rated it really liked it
Very readable. Anything but dry. Just the right length, and amount of detail and of overview. And with 'editorial' type insights by the author. My only quibble is that, like most books that cite numerous geographic references (towns, rivers, mountains), the few maps provided here didn't include many (most?) of the citations in the text. Of course, it would be impossible to depict all of them in a reasonable number of maps, but 3, 2 or even 1 map per chapter would have helped greatly. Nevertheles ...more
Dec 17, 2014 Brent rated it it was amazing
I highly recommend A Short History of World War I to anyone interested in a good, general look at the war which can be considered the cause of many 20th century problems: the rise of communism, WWII, and the Cold War. The author moves quickly, giving praise where needed (a rare event in this war) and handing out criticism to everyone else.

Why my interest in this book? The August 2014 100th anniversary of the beginning of the war is probably what caused me to add this to my read list, but I have
Oct 26, 2013 Ted rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Let me start with what this book isn't. It isn't for the serious Historiographer. Most "short" books aren't. This book also isn't "short" at ~350 pages. How can it when were talking about "world war"?

What this book is, is an easily digestible narrative of World War I. The reader will have a frame of reference, not just of geography but also of time, and provides a springboard to further explore the "War To End All Wars". Stokesbury writes with a touch of wit and sarcasm, not to be offensive, but
Nov 27, 2007 Rach rated it it was ok
My high school World History teacher, Mr. H., used to fall asleep in class while we were "discussing" the reading (yeah right!). By listening to this audiobook, I attempted to educate myself where I had a vast gap in my knowledge of world history. The first bit, about the origins of the war, was informative and well-written (assassination of the Archduke in the Balkans, anyone?). However, I lost track of who was where and what they were doing while I was listening to descriptions of the battles. ...more
Aug 20, 2008 Jesse rated it liked it
I agree with another reviewer in that the book is hard to follow when listening to it as an audio book. I was forced to go online and look up maps for all the different battles. Another drawback, which wasn't really the author's fault, was that each location had 3,4,5 or more battles fought there. This made it extremely difficult to remember any of the individual battles. But the author did do a good job of covering a vast amount of material in a small space and he had a healthy pithiness about ...more
Jan 29, 2014 Jeff rated it really liked it
Shelves: wwii
Not as good as A Short History of World War II but I think this was a much more confusing time than World War II was. Certainly, if you are looking for a single volume history of the "war to end all wars," this book is a contender, despite the very few maps included. I like that Stokesbury takes us through the causes of the war, then continues to keep the big picture in mind as we are entering and/or leaving individual chapters. He tells it like it is when it comes to the world leaders of the da ...more
Dec 13, 2014 Tony rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
A SHORT HISTORY OF WORLD WAR I. (1981). James L. Stokesbury. ****.
In my search for a readable history of World War I, I have finally found this work. It presents an overview of both the political and military aspects of the conflict that I have been looking for. In addition to the standard sections on the prelude to the war and the major battles, the author also gives us enlightening chapters on “The Collapse of Russia,” “The Submarine Campaign: The United States Enters the War,” and “Success an
Aug 12, 2011 KimBoo rated it it was amazing
Shelves: military, history, wwi
Stokesbury is a grounded scholar with a sense of humor, which makes the utterly tragic history of WWI easier to read about. This is definately a short introduction to a massive and complex story; this war has been parsed into confetti for nearly 90 years now, so there isn't much new to say about it. Nonetheless Stokesbury brings a fresh eye to the politics surrounding the campaigns. His writing is excellent, as is is scholarship, and the book is an enjoyable read. Not quite an easy read, but cer ...more
Mar 24, 2013 Ron rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, politics, war
For a readable overview of World War 1 this is surprisingly good. Surprising because at first the tone seems very colloquial, sort of like the "Don't Know Much About..." series. The author inserts many wry remarks about the nature of generals and politicians, which in the end is most appropriate for this most brutal of all wars. I've read a lot of books about various battles in WW1 but this book gives a big picture, especially of the western front.

Perhaps not as scholarly or rigourous as some v
Jun 12, 2010 Kevin rated it really liked it
A decent book, and the second in my project to deepen my knowledge of world history. My only complaint is that the prose is a bit uneven: stale, functional prose gives way to flowery bits about the wasted generation abruptly.

Woodrow Wilson comes off as a bit unreasonable, in the book, at one point refusing to even begin diplomatic talks with the Germans until the constitution was changed to give the Kaiser less power.

The rise of the Bolsheviks is handled well, and leaves my wanting to read mor
Mary Dickey
Feb 05, 2010 Mary Dickey rated it liked it
I know the title sounds DULLLLLLL...but this is a fascinating exploration of what caused the conflict that opened the modern era. It's always interesting to discover the roots of so many of our current issues in our past. Oil, I was surprised to learn inthis book, was one of the factors that enticed the world into a huge and incredibly destructive war almost a century ago.

The more things change........
W. Don
Sep 20, 2014 W. Don rated it really liked it
An excellent, readable, high level summary of the Great War, covering all theaters and a good part of the European political situation that led to this catastrophe. I have so much more respect for those of all nations that fought in this war, but especially for the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Their record in Flanders is commendable. Just wish my grandfather was still alive to talk about his memories.
John Clark
Oct 27, 2010 John Clark marked it as tabled
The beginning of the book presents a brief overview of the situation in Europe (and in the world) that gave rise to the war, but I was hoping for more depth on that point. After that, the book goes into detail about the prosecution of the war itself, which interested me far less, so I put it aside.
Jim Cunningham
May 12, 2013 Jim Cunningham rated it really liked it
It's virtually impossible to produce a 300-page book on such a broad subject as WWI, but Stokesbury comes about as close as possible to doing so. Everything's here, if only too briefly in some instances (e.g. perhaps 5-10 pages total on the subject of airpower, which came into widespread being in this conflict). Still, the book is a good treatment of the subject matter.
Dec 04, 2012 Robert rated it liked it
Nearly gets to the absurdity of this ( or any war). The thing that fascinates me about warfare is the "how could you?" How could you, from either side, conclude that the thing to do is go murder people from another country?
Apr 18, 2012 Melisa rated it liked it
I originally read this book for a Military History class that I took while in college (History major). I liked how it didn't seem as dry and stale as some of the other history textbooks I've had to read.
Jeff Brateman
Jan 22, 2017 Jeff Brateman rated it it was amazing
This book is as amazing as the other Short History book that I read (Korean war). It really is fantastic to be on the edge of my seat, even though I know how it all ended, because the circumstances were really that ominously close to a different ending.
Nov 03, 2013 Ben rated it really liked it
This book provides an easily digestible overview of WWI. My only complaint is that, while there were certainly many decisions to second guess in this wasteful affair, Stokesbury's critical tones starts to cause one to wonder if everyone was stupid or if the author is going overboard.
Jul 13, 2014 Jennylou rated it liked it
If rating primarily on its handling of military history, I'd give it five stars. It's not a well-rounded history, though, which is why I'd downgrade it to three stars. It provides miniscule amounts of information on the causes of the war and on the home fronts during the war.
Mar 18, 2012 Shad rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This provides a good overview and framework which helped me get the basics of what happened and when. He also introduced some of the interpretive issues and arguments and laid the foundation for understanding what led up to WWII.
Tim Anderson
Jul 26, 2013 Tim Anderson rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-war-i
A nice beginner's book to understanding WWI.
Jan 26, 2011 Alex rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011-50
A good concise history with some interesting discussion.
Jay Nickel
Jun 05, 2016 Jay Nickel rated it really liked it
Great concise history of the war including motives and criticism of decisions
Jun 19, 2012 Sara rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
A very easy to read history of some of the important things that happened during World War One
Mar 23, 2008 Curtiss rated it really liked it
One of Mr. Stokesbury's lucid & insightful, one-volume histories of various conflicts or battlefield weapons systems.
Donovan Rowlands
Aug 18, 2013 Donovan Rowlands rated it really liked it
A good read for those of us that weren't paying attention in school.
Jan 14, 2014 Adventure rated it liked it
Good overall summary of the war, but a lot of commentary I'm not sure was necessary.
Jun 27, 2015 Caleb rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Much more detailed than I expected, and that's good. It was very enlightening!
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