Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The First World War: A New Illustrated History” as Want to Read:
The First World War: A New Illustrated History
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The First World War: A New Illustrated History

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  969 ratings  ·  98 reviews
The highest praise greeted the hardcover publication of this engrossing, brilliant book - THE definitive story of the Great War, the war that created the modern world, unleashing the terrors of mechanized warfare and mass death, and establishing the political fault lines that imperil European stability to this day.

Keegan takes us behind the scenes of the doomed diplomatic
Hardcover, 350 pages
Published September 11th 2003 by Simon & Schuster (first published January 1st 2003)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The First World War, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The First World War

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,096)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details

With the centennial of the onset of World War 1 upon us, I sought and found in this 2004 book a good choice for a one-volume history of the whole shebang. It is highly compressed into 340 pages, but is not wanting for covering the war in its world-wide aspect. With such a scope, we lose out on in-depth character assessment of major figures, but there are too many of them anyway. What we get instead is an effective framework of interpretation for hanging a lot of the facts and factions and sites
Sean Chick
I wish I could rate this higher for what it does right, in particular Strachan's emphasis on events outside of the western front. However, his detached and judgmental style is grating. He likes to poke holes in "misconceptions" with such glee that he often fails to explain why the accepted view is wrong. This also makes it a rather poor introduction to the war, for it often assumes ample prior knowledge. The most intriguing assertion is that the rejection of the First World War's "true" meaning ...more
An outstanding single-volume history and a remarkable feat of distillation and synthesis. When the 340 pages are finished, you're almost left feeling like it was too short.

Serious students of history will be a little annoyed at the light sourcing, particularly when it comes to Strachan's confident dismissals of the conventional wisdom. A few of the conclusions seem a little too trite and one or two observations even flatly ludicrous, as here: "given that the United States was itself a community
J.M. Hushour
World War I is my favorite war: poison gas, flamethrowers, nun beating--everything I cherish in life came into use for the first time as a method of warfare and terror-inducing. The first mechanized war! The first clumsy, bomb-dropping airships! Moustaches! Trench mouth! And this is easily the best single volume history I've read of it
Tackling as broad a subject as World War I and confining it into one, readable volume might seem nigh impossible, but I'd say Strachan managed to pull it off here.
Strachan spent years researching and writing this book labeled Volume I: To Arms. I gave up at page 382 of 1139. I felt like I was interrupting the author and reading his notes over his shoulder. It seemed like every discussion by every office-bound was detailed; every turn of every unit of the multitude of armies was mentioned by commander and cardinal direction. You cannot even tell which country the units represent when in the Russian-German front the commanders of two groups on the same side ...more
It's basically a cliff's - notes of World War I. There is a lot of information and much of it is interesting, but the writing is so dry. It almost took me the same amount of time to read this as it did to read The Sleepwalkers and that book is almost twice as long. This book is okay, but the accompanying video series is much much better.

I also don't know if I agree with Strachan's assessment that the war in general, or the Treaty of Versailles in particular, didn't make the second world war ine
Julie Bozza
This is an excellent book about the 'big picture' and 'high level' history of the Great War. I have to admit that, while I was interested in the overall perspective, the book only really came to life for me in a couple of ways. One was the (very) few occasions where Strachan quotes a few words from a soldier involved in the thick of it. Otherwise it's all told from the top, featuring the countries and the generals. Another thing I appreciated, though, was the Introduction, which provided an inte ...more
Derek Weese
Much has already been said about this little volume, so I'll keep my own comments brief.
This was a fairly good, short introduction to the war that's only flaw was to try to touch on everything which led to nothing being covered in detail. For all of that it was very well written and engaging.
Strachan showed the links between the home fronts, the social issues, the economy and the fighting at the front. Everything was linked, how else could it be in a modern industrial 'Total War'?
The war in Af
Shawn Robison
I finished this book on Armistice Day! How fitting. This book was chosen as the anchor for my class on WWI but I'm not sure that it's the best book to use when learning about the subject. To me it seemed to focus on vague specific topics in not so much of a chronological order. For a short history on WWI I felt like it should cover the basics a little better giving you an idea of the who's and what's in the order in which they happened.
Iván Braga
Cumpliéndose 100 años de la primera guerra mundial, este es un texto muy completo y explicativo de lo que fue esta contienda. El autor detalla los distintos escenarios en que se libro la lucha. Más allá del frente occidental, las batallas navales en el atlántico y el frente ruso, se detallan las batallas en África, la epopeya de los serbios, el ataque al imperio otomano, los intentos alemanes por promover el nacionalismo islámico o irlandés, así como el complejo frente italo-austriaco. Muy inter ...more
Having caught repeats of the TV series, which was surprisingly good, I was tempted to read something new about WWI. Especially given the centenary. This book does not disappoint. If you know little of the war, you'll find this refreshing as it will open up the war like not other work on WWI I've read. It's not all mud, trenches and gas on the Western Front. If you know your WWI well, then this is novel in its truly global scope and includes gems of information which we don't normally get to hear ...more
Paul Taylor
Strachan is a highly respected historical writer and so I expected something more from this history. This is one of those rare examples where the TV series spawned by the book is better than the book itself. Strachan tries hard to emphasise the global nature of the conflict by reference to theatres of war other than the Western Front but in doing so creates a rather piecemeal feel to the book, which peters out, rather like the war itself did. In comparison to Christopher Clark's the Sleepwalkers ...more
Ryan Wulfsohn
Excellent one-volume history of WW1, comparable to Andrew Roberts' work on WW2. Highly recommended- especially for those unfamiliar with the subject.
I'm pleased i have finally finished this book. A book during which I took a break to read a number of easy fiction books.
I've always found the First World War interesting and when I saw this book in the shop I was certainly interested. But I was also concerned that I'd start but not finish it. But the first paragraph seemed readable and it certainly has excellent review quotes. This book certainly does cover a lot of ground but for me it was often hard to follow. I suspect a little more knowled
It was only late on that I realized this book was written as a companion to a television series of the same name, and that each of the ten chapters shared a title with an episode of the series. This probably accounts for the somewhat uneven style and depth of the book. It wasn't quite as much of a survey as I had hoped, and covered aspects of the war in significant detail while perhaps assuming a general familiarity with the main events. As a result, it felt a bit choppy and sometimes seemed to ...more
Good read on the first wolrd war, good coverage of all the key generals.
This book covered the complex topic of the First World War. It read easy enough for a book of such in-depth information. It had maps, as well as many photographs from the times that helped me to conceptualize what I was reading. I felt a bit disappointed in the fact that it did not go deeply into the repercussions of WWI that we still feel today, especially with the territorial decisions made at the time. I felt that this was mentioned in the synopsis and introduction to the book, but never expa ...more
John Holloway
A concise history of World War I is short on details by nature, but the absence of specifics about the conduct of battle is ultimately the downfall of this volume. This is not a good choice if you are looking to learn about life in the trenches. Having said that, the author does an excellent job of explaining the rise of nationalism that let to the war. He also does an excellent job of summarizing the meaning of the conflict and its role in setting the stage for the events that were to follow fr ...more
Martin Hedegaard
Jeg havde store forventninger til denne bog, da jeg i længere tid har haft interesse for 1. Verdenskrig. Men hvilken skuffelse. Bogen præges af en arrogant og kold tone, der i hvert fald med tydelighed viser forfatterens glæde ved krig og militærhistorie. Det er en bog, hvor generaler og forsvarets top spiller en meget afgørende rolle. Der er også fokus på politiske beslutninger og diplomatiet (som er en af bogens stærkere sider), men der er meget lidt om de folk, der rent faktisk kæmpede ved fr ...more
Matt Farrugia
Strachan did a very good job in explaining the important aspects of the First World War. With less than 350 pages to cover over 1,500 days of warfare, I appreciate that the author has kept it as short as possible, for various reasons. This book is not exactly a timeline of the war, and unfortunately at times, though not very often, one may find himself lost between two non-consecutive events or periods.

I am of the believe that Strachan's targeted audience were not only historians or experts, but
Mar 30, 2009 Michael rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Historians, Students, War buffs, history teachers
Recommended to Michael by: Professor Victoria Belco
Shelves: popular-history
This is an excellent survey text of the subject, which integrates many elements traditionally ignored by writers of popular history. It is also one of the most extensively illustrated academic texts you will ever see, making it a particularly effective teaching tool. There is a set of color plates in the center which are particularly striking, but nearly every page has a black and white photo that ties neatly in with the text and gives readers a visual image of the situations described.

The greatest strengths of Strachan's book are his extensive coverage of the non-western fronts and the plethora of photographs. Instead of the usual practice of placing all the photos in the center, Strachan's has black-and-white photographs placed liberally throughout. The central plates have a number of color photos, which is surprising given the time period. One could argue that the photos inflate the page count some, but they add a lot to the book, have detailed captions to put them in conte ...more
Achtung Englander
This is a thoroughly researched book with plenty of insight behind the machinations of the first world war. The problem is the book lacks some soul. Unlike the stella TV program which shares the same name and chapter titles there is little insight into the nightmare of trench warfare or the suffering that normal people experienced. In the TV documentary numerous letters and diaries written by soldiers, children and workers at that time opened a greater window of that time than reading about theo ...more
So many books on WW-I focus just on the Western Front and its horrible human toll, or on why it happened. This one provides a reasonably detailed narrative of the full course of the conflict viewed from the perspective of the key actors leading the governments that entered and pursued the war. The choices faced and decisions made by leaders in governments, war ministries, and the military are outlined and their consequences summarized. Each theater of the war, including Africa, Poland, Serbia, T ...more
A very good introduction to the 1st World War. Stachan makes some very good points and he deals with the issue of the origins of the war very well.

He argues that the war was no inevitable and that the build of the German navy was as much as a pawn to convince Britian to ally with Germany, as it was deemed to be a threat, and as such a cause for war.

He makes a repeated attack on the euro-centric view of the war, as the war is seemed wholly related to the western front.

Here was a war that had ma
Offers a remarkably international view of the conflict, and in a compact single volume at that. This was meant as a companion piece to the (also quite good) television documentary series of the same name which he oversaw. Still, if you want more, look to his much larger The First World War - Vol. I: To Arms (2003) -- the first of a projected three volumes and absolutely staggering in its depth. This first volume alone runs to 1250 pages.
Mike  Davis
This has been called the best single book account of WWI by some authorities. I found it difficult to read for several reasons and as such don't feel qualified to rate it accurately. First, I am not an historian, nor do I have much background or knowledge of WWI history specifically. Second, I found it somewhat complex and had trouble following the logic of threads leading to the various scenarios. Another problem lies with changes in the names of countries, boundaries, cities and other landmark ...more
Tim and Popie Stafford
I wanted a short history of WWI but this wasn't the best choice. Strachan's ability with the English language is limited; many sentences only made sense on the third reading. And since he is cramming in so much in so small a space, fluency is quite important! However, what he says is interesting and I learned a lot about the war that I didn't know.
Trent Scaggs
This book gave me a lot of information on this subject. Along with being mostly informative it was entertaining with it's many interesting photos. It hasn't been exactly the best book I've read but it was sure interesting to read. If you are a big fan or World War One than you would like this book. I am not a huge fan of total fiction books but this has been one of the best I've read.
James Murphy
This is an excellent look at the First World War. Hew Strachan has written a history that shows how the war and its outcome is still relevant today. If you're looking for a worthwhile book that examines not just the military actions but also the economic, political, and social elements of the First World War, look no further.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 69 70 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Marne, 1914: The Opening of World War I and the Battle That Changed the World
  • 1915 The Death Of Innocence
  • The White War: Life and Death on the Italian Front 1915-1919
  • The Somme: The Darkest Hour on the Western Front
  • The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916
  • The First World War: A Complete History
  • Cataclysm: The First World War as Political Tragedy
  • Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age
  • The First Day on the Somme
  • Europe's Last Summer: Who Started the Great War in 1914?
  • Gallipoli
  • The Pity of War: Explaining World War I
  • 14-18: Understanding the Great War
  • Forgotten Voices of the Great War
  • Ring Of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War I
  • The Great War and Modern Memory
  • The Origins of the First World War
  • Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour: Armistice Day, 1918
Hew Strachan was born and brought up in Edinburgh, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 2003 and awarded an Hon. D.Univ., (Paisley) 2005. He is also Life Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where he was successively Research Fellow, Admissions Tutor and Senior Tutor, 1975-92. From 1992 to 2001 he was Professor of Modern History at the University of Glasgow, and from ...more
More about Hew Strachan...
Clausewitz's 'On War' The First World War: Volume I: To Arms The Oxford Illustrated History of the First World War European Armies and the Conduct of War The First World War in Africa

Share This Book