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Collision of Empires: The War on the Eastern Front in 1914

(The Eastern Front #1)

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  348 ratings  ·  47 reviews
Imperial Germany, Hapsburg Austria-Hungary, and Tsarist Russia clashed on a scale greater than the Western Front campaign to the Marne and the Race to the Sea in 1914.

Drawing on first-hand accounts and detailed archival research, this is a dramatic retelling of the tumultuous events of the first year of World War I on the Eastern Front, with the battles of Tannenberg and
Hardcover, 472 pages
Published June 17th 2014 by Osprey Publishing (first published January 1st 2014)
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Nov 02, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: world-war-i
Prit Buttars Collision of Empires is a serious book aimed at serious students of the First World War. I mean several things by serious. First, and most obviously, its subject matter the Eastern Front of World War I during 1914 is grim and sobering. If you are looking for a volume filled with knock-knock jokes, you should probably not read Collision of Empires.

More pertinently for our purposes, it is serious in the sense that its decidedly not a popular history. Buttar is a doctor by
Disclaimer: ARC read via Netgalley.

What Americans are taught about the First World War amounts to something like: British, Germans, assassination, France, Russia, Czar, Zimmerman telegram, needed us to win, caused World War II.
Its no surprise really that the closest we come to a National War Memorial for the First World War on the Washington DC Mall is the one for the locals. (Its right across from the MLK memorial). It is not as big or awe striking as the memorials for the Korean, Vietnam,
Bryan Alexander
Oct 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, world-war-i
Those of us interested in World War One have needed a book like this for a very long time.

Here's the problem. Most Western accounts of WWI overemphasize the western front. In history and popular culture the planetary cataclysm of 1914-1918 narrows down to the understandably fascinating story of German's ultimately doomed invasion and occupation of northeastern France. This leaves off so many other aspects of WWI, including the epic Italian-Austrian war, the African campaign, and especially the
Steven Peterson
Oct 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
A very detailed analysis of the World War I struggle in the East--with the key actors being Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia, and Serbia (as well as other Balkan countries). The story begins with the background leading up to World War I. The detail is good, providing background context.

Key leaders are well described--Conrad, Ludendorff, Hindenburg, and others. National leaders, too, are discussed, kings and emperors. We get a sense, after reading this volume, of those who might possibly shape
Apr 19, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, kindle, ww-i
Way more than I'll ever need to know.
Heinz Reinhardt
Sep 06, 2015 rated it really liked it

This is my second read through of this fine book, and it was equally as good of a read as the first time around. I have imported my first review from my now non-active goodreads account as I feel it say's what I still observed about the book. This is the first not in a trilogy but a projected four (possibly five) part series on the Eastern Front in WWI. All the best in health and wisdom to Mr. Buttar to complete his task as he is one of the best military historians of the current day. This book
Sep 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
A quirk of the Great War is that its initial contestants usually cease to be subjects of interest to the historical imagination once Europes titans are involved. The Great War conjures up images of the western front, of France and the United Kingdom in a bloody grapple with Germany, dug into the fields of Belgium. The war began, however, in the east, over some damn foolish thing in the Balkans over Austrias reaction to the assassination of its heir by a Serbian nation. Collision of Empires ...more
Sep 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Prit Buttar covers a similar time and subject to Barbara Tuchman's book The Guns of August, but on the long Eastern and Southern fronts, which are less well known.
A map showing the borders and important railway lines may be helpful:

The fighting took place in a region Buttar refers to as Poland, which had been a province of Russia for 150 years and was smaller than the current country, and in Galicia, a kingdom within the Austro-Hungarian Empire which does
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Without question, this is the best book on the First World War I have read in many years. Incredibly well researched, Buttar digs back into the doctrines, strategies, and senior leadership of the protagonists on the Eastern Front in order to better describe how they each went about fighting their respective campaigns. He does so in a way that doesn't leave you mired in the "geekery" of warfare, but rather ensures you never want to put the book down.

I can hardly believe that Buttar did not spend
An informative read about The Great War's, Eastern Front, the first few chapters covers the major players, the armies, generals and politics. The remainder of the book covers the battles up to the end of 1914.
Good appendices, with location/place names that have changed since 1914, lots of notes, the only thing I didn't like were the maps, thought they should've been more detailed, and end up using maps from Wiki which were very good.
Derek Weese
Aug 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Since it is the centennial of the First World War, one can expect a veritable flood of publishing to be undertaken for the battles and characters of the Great War. The Eastern Front, however, of that war has been largely ignored, save for the Battle of Tannenberg, for decades. Now, with this book, that is finally starting to change.
The first of a prospective trilogy on the war on the Eastern Front, this book starts off by delving into the military and political cultures of the three main
Norman Smith
Mar 12, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a very detailed history of the First World War's eastern front, covering the period August through December, 1914. It seems very well-researched, and very thorough. Generally, I found that I liked it quite a bit, but I found that I struggled to keep track of the action.

I found the narrative of the battles somewhat hard to follow at time. First, the various units are all numbered (XVII Corps, 8th Army, etc.) on all sides, which makes it hard to recall who was who when reading that the
Jun 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
A detailed, insightful and well-researched work.

The narrative is clear and accessible, and Buttar does a great job covering the strengths and weaknesses of the Central Powers and the Russians. Buttar describes how the conditions were shaped by Germanys superiority in artillery, the German armys cohesive chain of command, the initiative of German officers, the sheer size of the Russian army, and the internal disputes among Russias commanders. Buttar does a good job describing the interplay among
Jan 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
This book is the first of a quartet of books on the Eastern front in WWI. Unlike the Western front there was sufficient room to maneuver. A lot of history on battles in the Eastern Front was new to me besides Tannenberg. The author was strongest in the analysis. I also saw that each of the countries before the war had ample evidence that warfare would be different than before. However, opinions once made were hard to change and the lessons went unlearned. For example, there was a reluctance to ...more
Benjamin Finley
This book started off great with the first few background chapters but that all changes when the author gets into the battle of Tannenberg. Unless you are a doctoral student of early 20th century Eastern European military history you will quickly get lost in all of the details about corps, battalions, fronts and flanks. It was a bit overwhelming and too much.

In hindsight I should not have been surprised since this is a ~500 page book on the Eastern European campaign in just the first year of
Jeff Gabriel
Feb 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very good detail on the various characters involved in shaping policy and strategy; precursors and implications for the battles; troop movements and materiel issues. I liked the book, and learned from it. I think it would probably be a better book for a more prepared student of WW1. As a fan of detailed military histories I still had a lot of catching up to do in terms of re-reading portions several times to keep places and characters straight. Well researched, well written.
Best to read the summation in Chapter 15 and be done with it. There are many good lessons from the Eastern Front - probably the most relevant is Buttar's assessment of the initial leadership, trained during peacetime in the old ways of thinking, proved wholly inadequate to the new way of war after 1914. The officers that proved themselves in combat developed the strategies and tactics that would dominate Western Warfare for the rest of the century.
Joe Collins
Oct 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history-ww1
A very detailed and information scrammed book on the East Front in WW1. There are a lot of names, units, and locations that are presented. Some names might only appear on two pages and you will not see them again. If this amount of information will confuse you or you don't like that level of detail in book, then this book is not for you. If you are serious in wanting to know what happen on the Eastern Front in WW1, then read this four volume series by Prit Buttar.
Old Bob
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
I find it so frustrating that a good book like this focuses almost solely on the story and the experiences of the very senior officers . I was hoping to read about the war on the ground, how was it comparable to the trench warfare in western Europe, what was life like for the men actually fighting the war, what did they eat, how were the wounded treated, etc?
Aug 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very informative about an often overlooked front from the first World War. Trains and Prussian military training helped give the Germans an edge. Lack of coordination by Generals on the Russian side did not help the allied cause either. Could have used more quotes/remembrances of actual front line soldiers. Overall an enjoyable read.
3.75 stars. Intriguing, engaging, and (higher level) in depth study of the war on the Eastern Front, going into the political as well as the military issues that affected the fighting in its early stages.
Anthony Todd
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
Overall a good look into several of the early battles on the eastern front. I had a hard time keeping track of all the corps and divisions, as the book tends to focus on the movements of units on the battlefield.
Apr 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Superb framing at the outset and summarizing at the conclusion. Very detailed recounting of campaigns in between.
Jan 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
A detailed description of the period just before World War I and the fighting in the first year between Austria-Hungary, Russia, and Germany. Contains a good description of the army personalities in the lead-up to the war and then considerable (sometimes a little hard to follow) details of the campaigns of the first year.
Zeb Kantrowitz
Apr 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley-read
On August 1, 1914, the German Empire, Russian Empire and Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy entered into a war after which all three would disappear from the European continent. In the last five months of 1914 armies from these three empires would battle almost continuously, with over two million casualties with little settled. Though all three armies had been planning for this war, nothing they planned came to fruition. Why?

According to Buttar, these armies all suffered from the same problems,
Edgar Raines
May 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a detailed operational history of war on the Eastern Front during the last five months of 1914. I cannot think of another history in English that goes into this detail. Buttar has a good command of the German, Austrian, and Russian sources and, of course, those Russian sources translated into German, French, and English. He also provides a running commentary on administrative and logistical arrangements and how these provided limits beyond which commanders could not l venture with any ...more
Bill V
Jan 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While the books has flaws, it fills a huge gap regarding World War I. There are dozens of books detailing combat and the situation in western Europe but there is almost nothing that covers the eastern front. I knew of some details such as Tannenberg but this book covered a lot of issues I was not aware of.
As I understand it, the author is not a writer by trade and it shows in the writing. Following some of the campaigns is at times very difficult. Also, many of is unit conversions (miles to
John Walker
Jul 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Interesting book on the Eastern Front of World War I, but having said that this book is very intense and has problems. First there are few maps so one is constantly flipping back to them to see where the Germans,, Russians and Austrians are, those maps also show the Russian movements in grey and everyone else black. Sometimes the text reads as VI corps attacking a combination of I corps and XXI corps (which army is attacking).

This is a big book where you have to know the players (names of all
Lauren Bromley
Jun 15, 2015 rated it liked it
I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley.

I knew little to nothing about WWI prior to reading this book. It focuses on the Eastern front, which most people are probably not familiar with. I found the information interesting, though tedious. It took me a long time to read the 400 some pages. Obviously, I didn't expect it to read like a novel, but it was hard to stay interested. When I got to the end, it didn't really feel like it was wrapped up well. It was very abrupt. I thought maybe I was
Scott Whitmore
Aug 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting look at a subject that is perhaps too obscure to Western readers: the first year of World War I on the Eastern Front. Early chapters focus on pre-war planning and preparation before the focus shifts to a tactical overview of the fighting from August-December 1914. The granularity of these later chapters made for a bit of a grind, as a lack of detailed maps made it difficult to really visualize what was happening. Once again, having my "Collins Atlas of Military History" at hand ...more
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Prit Buttar studied medicine at Oxford and London before joining the British Army as a doctor. After leaving the army, he has worked as a GP, first near Bristol and now in Abingdon. He is extensively involved in medical politics, both at local and national level, and served on the GPs Committee of the British Medical Association. He appears from time to time on local and national TV and radio, ...more

Other books in the series

The Eastern Front (4 books)
  • Germany Ascendant: The Eastern Front 1915
  • Russia's Last Gasp: The Eastern Front 1916-17
  • The Splintered Empires: The Eastern Front 1917–21

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