The First World War: The War To End All Wars Paperback – Sep 25 2003
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Essential Histories are remarkably effective in presenting military events in the wider contexts of the new military history.
About the Author
After leaving Oxford, Geoffrey Jukes spent 14 years in the UK Ministry of Defence, and Foreign and Colonial Office. He has also worked on the staff of the Australian National University. Peter Simkins was Senior Historian at the Imperial War Museum until his retirement in 1999, when he was awarded the MBE for his services to the Museum. He is Honorary Professor in Modern History at the University of Birmingham, a Vice-President of the Western Front Association and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. Michael Hickey retired from his position as Colonel GS Ministry of Defence in 1981, after serving in Korea, East Africa, Suez and Aden. In 2000 he was awarded the Westminster medal for Military Literature.
Inside This Book(Learn More)
The route which led the major powers of Europe to war in 1914 was long and tortuous, with many complex and interwoven factors eventually combining to drive them into a protracted and cataclysmic struggle. Read the first page
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
THE FIRST WORLD WAR brings together THE FIRST WORLD WAR: THE EASTERN FRONT, 1914-1918 (EH 13); THE FIRST WORLD WAR: THE WESTERN FRONT, 1914-1916 (EH 14); THE FIRST WORLD WAR: THE WESTERN FRONT, 1917-18 (EH 22); and THE FIRST WORLD WAR: THE MEDITERRANEN FRONT, 1914-1923 (EH 23). Geoffrey Jukes authored the Eastern Front book; Peter Simkins, the two Western Front volumes; and Michael Hickey, the Mediterranean Front book.
On the plus side, the Osprey 2013 compilation offers the opportunity of having all four volumes under one cover. Seemingly a straight reprint with no updating, THE FIRST WORLD WAR is entertainingly written, nicely illustrated and fairly easy on the pocketbook ($30.00).
As a general WWI history however, the 2013 book is a mixed bag. The four books are really histories of the land war with scant attention given to the air war, naval war, America's involvement, etc. (The once-over-lightly approach reflects the page limitations of the ESSENTIAL HISTORIES series, which were capped at 96 pages).
Moreover, most of THE FIRST WORLD WAR shows a pro-British bent. The Simkins and Hickey contributions all emphasize the contributions and experiences of British troops on the various fronts. Their sections, for example, feature detailed write-ups on the experiences of individual 'Tommies' and Brit civilians. No corresponding sections are included on their French or German counterparts, Commonwealth troops, etc. Jukes' Eastern Front chapter, the worst of the four, also errs in concentrating on one perspective - in this case, Russian - while neglecting the 'other side.' His chapter also seems both padded and rather dated.
Short and not-so-sweet: while combining the four ESSENTIAL HISTORIES volumes into one may make dollars-and-cents sense, it doesn't translate into a comprehensive and even-handed history of the war to end all wars. While THE FIRST WORLD WAR has its good points, its very nature works against it. Recommended with reservations.
As for the war itself, it does a pretty thorough job on the ground war in the three main theaters described in the component volumes: Western, Eastern and Mediterranean. But that's about as far as it goes.
The naval war is only glossed over; how a book like this can avoid subjects like the SMS Emden, the Lusitania, and the Battle of Jutland is puzzling. The air war fares even worse, with just a quick essay on how it changed warfare, but no details. The American effort in the last year of the war is also inadequately covered.
Also, there is no mention of the African, Asian and Pacific actions, which, while not significant, still were important enough to get some description.
The book is a compilation of four earlier volumes. Clearly, there should have been a fifth.....
For those seeking a more in-depth on the subject this author recommends Hew Strachen's history of the First as well as John Keegan's history. These are two much more serious books for those with more time and interest in the subject.
In a war which was eventually won on the Western Front - with the advent of the tank being a crucial factor, one should never lose sight of the fact that the German U Boat campaign was so very nearly an overall deciding factor in favour of Germany in 1917! Nevertheless, the outcome was the outcome and with it came an end to both the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires.
What I had not previously considered, however, was the statistic that, including all peripheral smaller seas - Adriatic, Aegean etc, the Mediterranean covers a million square miles of water. That is a huge area for any country to attempt to control and this book provides an entertaining overview of the military and naval operations which took place both at sea and on the shores surrounding this huge expanse of water throughout the years in question. Having said that, I really do fear few serious historians will learn anything of outstanding significance. Nevertheless, I really do recommend the work for two very good reasons. Firstly, it is an excellent view of one theatre of operations (i.e. the Mediterranean) throughout WW1 and in the years following. Secondly, it really is an excellent read.
All the more curious is the author’s selection of outstanding historic photographs which are often set at the periphery of what was going on rather than being central to whatever campaigns or battles were taking place. Yes, there are some quite outstanding pictures relating to the latter - such as the battleship Svent István settling in the water prior to sinking and the final moments of the French battleship Bouvet as she slips beneath the waves. In the former category, however, we see King George V on horseback on the last occasion when a Division of the ‘old army’ was reviewed by their monarch, a fascinating photograph depicting a British military band welcoming Russian troops arriving in Salonika and (my favourite) a Rolls Royce armoured car of the Duke of Westminster’s squadron at Sollum in April 1916. (NB; The reason why I favour this particular photograph is because it answers a long-standing question about another vehicle which, some years ago, I wrongly identified – but I digress!).
Altogether, whilst my description of ‘curiouser and curiouser’ remains apt, once you start to read the work itself all that curiosity unfolds into a rather compelling work which is very well written.
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