Book Review – The Last Battle: Victory, Defeat, and the End of World War I by Peter Hart

The Last Battle is the latest of the excellent histories of World War I that Peter Hart has produced.  This book is an account of the last year of World War I on the Western Front with an emphasis on the final Allied campaign known now as The 100 Days. My copy is a pre-publication review copy so some of this can change.  The facts: there are 395 pages of text divided into 12 chronological chapters. Like his earlier work this is an excellently written history that does not indulge in the blame games so many histories of World War I engage in.  Peter Hart presents a narrative account of … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Goodbye To All That by Robert Graves

In the interwar years of the 1920s and 1930s several books about World War I came out that have become seminal works in their own right.  Among these is Goodbye To All That by Robert Graves, his autobiography written and published in 1929 that mainly covers his time as a British officer in the Royal Welch Fusiliers on the Western Front during the war. As opposed to other memoirs or semi-autobiographical accounts of the war such as Storm of Steel or All Quiet on the Western Front, Goodbye To All That is essentially an unvarnished account of what the war was like for an unconventional English gentleman.  Graves was from … More after the Jump…

Book Review – The Great War: A Combat History of the First World War by Peter Hart

Since 2014 there have been a whole slew of books released dealing with World War I in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the war.  This volume is one of them.  In The Great War Peter Hart has produced a book that should have been written half a century ago at a minimum. The stats: the book is 476 pages of text separated into 16 chronologically arranged thematic chapters with maps, notes, and a preface. This book does what few other books I have read about manage.  That is, it examines World War I combat from the perspective of what was achievable at the time instead of criticizing commanders for … More after the Jump…

Book Review: An Iron Wind-Europe Under Hitler by Peter Fritzsche

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author and/or publisher. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] Peter Fritzsche’s book An Iron Wind-Europe Under Hitler is “new history” of the best sort.  Instead of being a war book about battles and campaigns it tries to capture the experience of World War II of the people of Europe.  How did the average civilian who the fighting swirled past and who lived under German occupation experience the war?  That is the question this book tries to answer and does a good job of doing so. First, the numbers.  There … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Ring of Steel by Alexander Watson

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author and/or publisher. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] Ring of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War I does for the Germany and Austria-Hungary what Niall Ferguson’s The Pity Of War did for the Allies in WWI.  It explains the war through the lens of the people that participated both at home and at the front and explores the ways in which the experience of war shaped the perception of the war and led to the dissolution of both empires. The book itself is a hefty tome at first … More after the Jump…

Gallipoli, 1915: Analysis of a Glorious Failure

The Allied invasion of Gallipoli and its subsequent failure represented perhaps the greatest lost opportunity of the First World War.  There is every reason to expect that if the invasion of Turkey had been successful then much the same results would have accrued to the Allies then as were to accrue twenty-eight years later when the Allies successfully invaded Italy in the Second World War.  The tangible results of the Allied invasion of Italy in 1943 was the capitulation of the government of Mussolini, and the diversion of up to sixteen German divisions in Italy that could have been more profitably used in France.  Additionally, one of Germany’s most capable … More after the Jump…

Book Review: The Month That Changed the World: July 1914 by Gordon Martel

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] Given that 2014 is the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, there has been a virtual flood of new books and scholarship on the war in the past few years. A flood that I sincerely hope does not stop anytime soon as the renewed emphasis on the war is starting to change the traditional view of the war. One area that has gotten particular emphasis this year is the Origins Controversy, as in, what really caused the war and … More after the Jump…

The Battle of Messines Ridge – 1917

From the opening months of the World War I, Flanders was the decisive sector for the British Army.  It was in an around the medieval Belgian town of Ypres that the original BEF had decimated themselves fending off German attacks from October to December, 1914.  Ypres and the salient surrounding it was where the British would see the hardest and most prolonged fighting of all the places where the British would fight in World War I. The Battle of Messines Ridge fought from 7-14 June, 1914 was not really a separate battle at all but rather the opening phase of what would come to be known variously as the Third … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Verdun – The Longest Battle of the Great War by Paul Jankowski

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the publisher. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] Verdun: The Longest Battle of the Great War is one of the flood of new works coming out about World War I this year in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the world’s first truly mechanized war.  This book explores the ten month (or eleven, depending on how you count it) battle of Verdun between the Germans and French from February to November 1916. It consists of eleven chapters arranged thematically that examine different aspects of the battle from the operational … More after the Jump…

Book Review: A Mad Catastrophe by Geoffrey Wawro

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] A Mad Catastrophe: The Outbreak of World War I and the Collapse of the Habsburg Empire by Dr. Geoffrey Wawro is the first book I have read about WWI that does not treat Austro-Hungary as an afterthought after the outbreak of the fighting in August 1914.  In fact, Austria-Hungary and the course of the fighting in Serbia and Galicia in the first year of the war is the central theme of the book.  Dr. Wawro applies his usual exhaustive research methods to exploring … More after the Jump…