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The First World War

The First World War
Author: John Keegan
ISBN 13: 9780375700453
ISBN 10: 375700455
Edition: N/A
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: 2000-05-16
Format: Paperback
Pages: 528
List Price: $17.00

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 efforts to avert the catastrophe; he probes the haunting question of how a civilization at the height of its cultural achievement and prosperity could propel itself toward ruin with so little provocation; his panoramic narrative brings to life the nightmarish engagements whose names have become legend - Verdun, the Somme, Gallipoli - as with profound sympathy, he explores the minds of Joffe, Haig and Hindenburg, the famed generals who directed the cataclysm.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Chris Barsanti

Keegan, the best popular military historian of our time, has chronicled the four-year cataclysm of World War I with his customary mixture of incisive analysis and compassionate commentary. Sometimes it s all too easy to forget the apocalyptic forces WWI unleashed upon the world. The patina of Europe s civilized aristocracy was swept away by the endless killing, paving the way for the more efficient barbarism and nationalist psychoses of World War II. This is Keegan s theme, and while not a revolutionary one, it is convincingly delivered. He dismisses many revisionist studies of the war that would have one believe if only this or that had happened, the war would never have been fought. As in his other work, Keegan s ability to clearly portray the plight of the individual soldier is what carries the book. Through all the accounts of strategies and battles, he never lets us forget these are people he is writing about. He acknowledges that in WWI, unlike other wars he has written on, heroism is not remembered and only graveyards remain: [N]o brave trumpets sound in memory for the drab millions who plodded to death on the featureless plains of Picardy and Poland; no litanies are sung for the leaders who coaxed them to slaughter.