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The First World War: A New Illustrated History

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  1,360 Ratings  ·  117 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 January 1st 2003 by Simon & Schuster
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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
Hilmi Isa
Buku ini merupakan sebuah buku sejarah satu jilid (volume) mengenai Perang Dunia Pertama (1914 - 1918). Perang ini turut dikenali sebagai The Great War,yang bermula pada 28 Julai 1914 sehingga 11 November 1918. Walaupun bermula di benua Eropah dan memainkan peranan utama,skala peperangan melangkaui benua tersebut. Malah,peperangan ini turut melibatkan benua-benua yang lain seperti di Asia dan Afrika.

Saya berpandangan bahawa buku ini merupakan sebuah buku ilmiah yang baik untuk dibaca. Terutamany
J.M. Hushour
Aug 10, 2014 J.M. Hushour rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 10, 2013 Christopher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Dec 21, 2014 Greg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Ryan Wulfsohn
Dec 20, 2011 Ryan Wulfsohn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent one-volume history of WW1, comparable to Andrew Roberts' work on WW2. Highly recommended- especially for those unfamiliar with the subject.
Apr 05, 2013 Doubledf99.99 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-1
Good read on the first wolrd war, good coverage of all the key generals.
May 04, 2017 Barry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like many of the other readers who posted comments, I am impressed by Hew Strachan's mastery of so many of the intimate details of the War. I had little real background on World War I and wanted to learn much more. I was interested to see Mr Strachan refute the notion, which I've always heard, that the War caused a lost generation when in fact population recovered by mid 1920's (at Introduction on very first page). I also was interested to see Mr Strachan's explanation that defensive trench warf ...more
Gustaf Erikson
Apr 19, 2017 Gustaf Erikson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yet another history. This focuses in large part on the global aspects of the war, in addition to trying to explaining the conflict in terms that the combatants understood — the conflict between liberalism and authoritatism. In the author’s view, the war wasn’t fought for meaningless reasons, and he asserts that the later view of it as a senseless carnage is a product of poets and authors writing during the 1920’s.
Jan 14, 2017 Dennis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Can't get a better summary of the First World War in less than 400 pages.
Dec 29, 2016 Mzakaria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The worst part about the book was the maps; Terribly simplistic and it was very hard to follow with many of the details mentioned in the book. I would recommend an online website with proper maps to augment the book.

In the general the book is good with reasonable emphasis on many of the war's aspect. I read many books about WWI, Strachan's gives great information about the status of the internal front using sources such as sensors reports, shipping data that I found to be of great value.

Derek Weese
Mar 12, 2014 Derek Weese rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 23, 2009 chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 28, 2011 Jwjoslin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Mar 30, 2009 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  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.

Dec 04, 2014 Jemma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Dec 22, 2016 Antonio rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
La Primera Guerra Mundial es el libro del afamado profesor Sir Hew Strachan que condensa en casi 400 páginas uno de los conflictos más famosos de la historia. Este libro explica con suficiente detalle la mayoría de acontecimientos famosos de la guerra para una persona que busca entender por completo el conflicto sin llegar a profundizar mucho. El libro, en su mayor parte, sigue la línea cronológica de la guerra y hace un gran trabajo en explicar sus antecedentes y primeros momentos pero no tanto ...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
Feb 15, 2009 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Feb 17, 2016 Dave rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting look at the First World War. Strachan presents the war as a global conflict, taking the reader to Africa, the Middle East, the Pacific and Asia. This is a nice change of pace from the usual WW1 history where Europe is covered to the point of marginalizing the other fronts in the war. And the volume is well illustrated, with a selection of color photos I have never seen before. My two complaints are (1) the narrative tends to jump around, taking the reader all over the map and some ...more
Julie Bozza
Aug 26, 2014 Julie Bozza rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, wartime
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
Matthew Farrugia
Dec 05, 2014 Matthew Farrugia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mike  Davis
Dec 15, 2010 Mike Davis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
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
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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
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