The First World War

Hew Strachan
July 11, 2021
★★★★ (+3.63%) 🛈

It is what it claims to be – a detailed history of WWI. Actually, I understand that this is the short version. The author is apparently one of the most renowned WWI scholars in the world, and has a three-volume history in the works, but he decided to make an easier-to-digest version.

He approaches it from a human perspective, rather than countries, and I’m not sure if this is a strength or a weakness. It’s never “Germany did this” or “France did this,” it’s more “[this one guy] did this.” He digs into the personalities behind the war and talks about their personal motivations. This is commendable, but for an introductory text, I’m not sure if this is necessary, and it makes the actin harder to follow.

There’s a lot going on here (the understatement of the year), but the book is compelling. I plowed through it in a couple of days.

I recommend you go to YouTube and search for “world war 1 explained.” There are a couple of 5-to-15-minute video primers out there that include visual maps and animations that will really make it easier to follow the text. If you know the high points and what to look for, you’ll make more sense of it.

Notably, the book contains a lot of pictures, both black-and-white in the text, and my hardcover had a special insert in the middle of the book with dozens of color pictures.

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