The First World War, Paperback book

The First World War[Paperback]

by Martin Gilbert

4.38 out of 5 (4 ratings)

Orion Publishing Co 
Publication Date:
10 October 2008 
Regional & National History 


'One of the first books that anyone should read in beginning to try to understand this war and this century' New York Times Book Review It was to be the war to end all wars, and it began at 11.15 on the morning of June 28, 1914, in an outpost of the Austro-Hungarian Empire called Sarajevo. It would end officially almost five years later. Unofficially, it has never ended: The horrors we live with today were born in the First World War. It left millions - civilians and soldiers - maimed or dead. And it left us with new technologies of death: tanks, planes, and submarines; reliable rapid-fire machine guns, poison gas and chemical warfare. It introduced us to unrestricted war on civilians and mistreatment of prisoners. Most of all, it changed our world. In its wake, empires toppled, monarchies fell, whole populations lost their national identities as political systems and geographic boundaries realigned. Instabilities were institutionalised, enmities enshrined. Manners, mores, codes of behaviour, literature, education and class distinctions - all underwent a vast sea change. In all these ways, the twentieth century can be said to have been born on the morning of June 28, 1914.

Showing 1-4 out of 4 reviews.

  • This is one of my favorite books for general reference. Maps are not great, though.

    5.00 out of 5


  • This is narrative history at its best. It covers events chronologically, moving from front to front, but without awkward breaks. The coverage is military and political but also the human dimension, with many stories of individual tragedy, horror and heroism. This will stay with me for a long time. The only slight downer is the maps, which are all at the end of the book, unrelated to the narrative and not terribly clear.

    5.00 out of 5


  • Accessible one-volume history of the mechanical slaughter of the First World War. A bit Anglocentric, and cites a lot of poetry as well as memoirs, but still earth-shattering stuff. The start of the chaotic century.

    4.00 out of 5


  • Although this book bills itself as an complete history of WWI,I came away disappointed. Gilbert barely discusses the war in Africa,the air war and the war at sea. There is no in depth discussion of strategy and tactics for the major land battles.Gilbert does a good job of presenting the eyewitness view of the war though this is predominately from the British point of view. There was hardly a French viewpoint and the German and Italian view seemed to be derived solely from Hitler and Mussolini. Gilbert seems to delight in pointing out that a lot of poets fought in the war and put much of their poetry in the book which is distracting.This work should be considered as introductory material and not as the end all in the study of WWI.Because of its strong British point of view I cannot consider this work as subjective. For that and because Gilbert fails to cover the African Campaign,Air War and the war at sea I give this book a three and half star rating.

    3.50 out of 5

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