The First World War : To Arms Volume I, Paperback

The First World War : To Arms Volume I Paperback

4.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


This is the first truly definitive history of the First World War, the war that has done most to shape the twentieth century. The first generation of its historians had access to only a limited range of sources, and their focus was primarily on military events. More recent approaches have embraced cultural, diplomatic, economic, and social history. In Hew Strachan's authoritative and readable history these fresh perspectives are incorporated with the military and strategic narrative. The result is an account that breaks the bounds of national preoccupations to become both global and comparative.

To Arms, the first of three volumes in this magisterial study, examines not only the causes of the war and its opening clashes on land and sea, but also the ideas that underpinned it, and the motivations of the people who supported it. It provides full and pioneering accounts of the war's finances, of the war in Africa, and of the Central Powers' bid to widen the war outside Europe.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 1248 pages, numerous maps
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: General & world history
  • ISBN: 9780199261918



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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

A excellent history of the years immediately before the outbreak of World War One and of the initial battles.

Review by

With 1135 pages, and being only the first of a trilogy this is certainly the most extensive work on the First World War written so far. Being one of the leading scholars on the subject Dr Strachan, has created what will be the book to cite for every future writer remotely touching the subject, and a must-have in the book shelf of every history buff. But if these people will read the whole thing is a completely different matter. Being a person with more than a healthy interest in WWI, I must admit that it took me awkwardly long to finish the book, and I more than ones abandoned it for more relaxing reading. Its size and somewhat dry language makes reading it almost as an epic feat as writing it. So if history is not your profession, or your interest in WW I is less than fanatic, this might be to much for you.This part of the trilogy (naturally) focuses the background and outbreak of the war, the initial battles of 1914, the war in Africa, the war in the pacific, how Turkey entered the war, Germanys global strategy and how the belligerent countries tackled the problems with industrial war and paying for the whole thing. As I pointed out before, it is amazingly extensive, and the different armies of 1914, with their weaknesses are well described. The more popular view of an effective, perfectly equipped and trained German army, meeting inept and conservative armies of France and Britain, is repudiated. The German army was as imperfect as the other ones and the Schleiffen plan would never have worked. The chapter about the war in Africa is also very good, giving a more comprehensive outlook on the war in this continent than other books have given. Actually, and surprisingly, there is one chapter I just don’t like. When Dr Strachan describes the origins of the war, he gives a rather orthodox version of it. It is more in line with “Guns of August” by Barbara Tuchman than modern books that follow the path by Fritz Fischer, and thereby blame Germany and Austria for the outbreak. In other words Dr Strachan more or less repudiates some of the thesis of Fritz Fischer, but according to me he does so without giving enough arguments. The origins of the war are better described in Holger Hedwig’s “The First World war”, or Annika Monbauer’s “The Origins of the First World War”. But still, the over all judgment must be more than positive, since there is simply no other book that manages to cover the conflict in such all-embracing manner. A four, but not more…