The First World War: A New Illustrated History
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The First World War: A New Illustrated History

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  700 ratings  ·  77 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...more
Hardcover, 350 pages
Published September 11th 2003 by Simon & Schuster (first published January 1st 2003)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,510)
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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...more
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
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....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...more
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
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...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
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.
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
Andy Veo
Hew Strachan's The First World War is a ten-chapter history of the infamous four-year conflict. The book recounts the causes, figures, battles, tactics, and theaters of the war. Strachan relies on statistics to explain the war's scale and effects. These stats include industrial productivity, the makeup of military units, specification of weapons, speed of mobilization, and demography.

Strachan devotes much detail on the war's diplomats and generals, but he is comparatively negligent when it come...more
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...more
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
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.
Coral Davies
An incredibly informative, insightful and decidedly neutral overview of the first world war. I really enjoyed this book and appreciated how approachable Strachan's writing made the subject matter. My only criticism were the maps! Seeing as Europe has been cut up and renamed a number of times more detailed, time line maps would have been greatly appreciated in order to understand the areas that existed and he was referring to.

A great book for novices who are seeking an introductory book on the '...more
Sandra Strange
This classic account of the tragic "war to end all wars" makes for fascinating reading about a compelling topic, a war people need to understand because it has so much colored our modern world. The account gives lots of good facts, stories, insights about the war from start to finish. I read the book, then watched the DVD series based on the book. It was interesting because the book had some detail the series didn't cover; however, the series had some details that the book didn't cover. Two inte...more
Patrick Gilner
This is for the most part a 3-3.5 star survey. However, I gave it 4 stars overall because the often meandering narrative is punctuated by absolutely brilliant observations and short essays or subsections in most chapters. Of nearly 400 pages, about 60 are absolutely worth reading even for those up to date on the historiography. Still, slogging through 45 mundane pages had me at many points ready to give up on the book, only to stumble upon a brilliant section that roped me back in. The book is d...more
I got bogged down sometimes (kind of like trench warfare). But the topic was something I felt important enough to keep focused and complete.
Maybe really 3.5 because THERE ARE NO MAPS. WHY NO MAPS?

But otherwise, a pretty concise, informative look at WWI. I especially appreciated the information about the war in Africa and the Middle East.
Donald Legault
Enjoyed this WWI history book since it is fairly comprehensive; especially for the inclusion of all the arenas where fighting occurred (not just the western front). It does suffer from passages that seem to be the author's personal views. Some events would have benefited from more in depth explanation as their reading left me confused.
Delia Wynne
Nowhere near as entertaining as the miniseries based off of it. This book is best for academics.
A useful survey of the war. It shines a light on some areas of the war that afford little attention, such as Africa and Mesopotamia, and it explains the thinking of the high command's of both sides.
Jim Mcclanahan
Aug 19, 2011 Jim Mcclanahan rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jim by:
This is a very concise volume recounting the major events leading up to the outbreak of the war and the dynamics of the war itself. It is profusely illustrated with wartime photos and provides some insights into the roles of most all of those involved in decision-making. It can be a difficult read simply because of its density. But it also represents a reasonably complete picture of the events of the time and their impact on subsequent history. Because it is not a huge book, it is a fairly quick...more
Ove Kronborg
Jul 23, 2014 Ove Kronborg rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kan meget anbefales.
Shelves: f-rdig
Glimrende og let læst gennemgang af det politiske drama op til og under første verdenskrig, de militære vurderinger før, under og efter de store slag.
May 25, 2009 Peter rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: War lovers
Recommended to Peter by: Just go for it.
Shelves: war-non-fiction
Simply the best.1st world war has started that year Endurance set sail for the trip across Atlantic.What a year. 1914
The British defeated at Gallipoli.(No wonder they surrender the tiny island of Singapore in World war two)
The best moment caterpillar tractor was involved in 1915 and first discovered by a French artillery office.
11 November 1918 Armistice day. Nobody ever learned how the war got started and never will they learned. Jihad will never end as well.
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Better mood throughout the day! 1 3 Aug 07, 2014 11:44PM  
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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
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

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