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World War I Books

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Was wondering if any of you have ever read a couple of fascinating WWI books that totally blow away conventional wisdom on the war; The Myth of the Great War: A New Military History of World War I by John Mosier and Haig's Command: A Reassessment by Denis Winter. I couldn't put either book down. You may not agree with the conclusions and analysis from either author but they both used rock solid sources and did some great detective work to uncover what they consider the real truth. Highly recommend both books.

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ive read john mosiers myth of the great war. i disagreed with some of his conclusions, but i agree it is a good read. one thing i really did agree with him on is how much the usa's contribution to the final struggle has been diminished in most historys of the war. he also has couple of books about ww2 that are worth reading.

i also recommend keegans history of ww1, it goes a long way in explaining why trench warfare happened. paddy griffiths book on british army tactics 1917 18 is also very informative.

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I found both Mosier's and Winter's books interesting, though I wasn't totally convinced by the conclusions of the former, and the latter just made me think that I'd better check out some more books with different opinions before making my mind up about Haig.

I have very much enjoyed Robin Neillands' numerous books on the British army's campaigns during the war, especially his The Death of Glory: The Western Front 1915 which is a counterblast against the "butchers and bunglers" viewpoint that Alan Clark put forward in his book The Donkeys many years ago.

Neillands is very good at explaining the situation, the problems at hand, and the possibilities for success. I didn't like Clark's The Donkeys at all because it felt like a rant without any clear and concise commentary, but Neillands work is very readable and it really shows you the difficulties the generals faced, and why they attempted the solutions they did.

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Clark's "Butchers and Bunglers" is a bit over the top, however, Winter's assessment of Haig and the British High Command system was very compelling and believable. Basically Winter portrayed the British High Command as an 'old boy' network of second rate nobility that rated military efficiency well behind politics and diplomacy. Winter gives examples of how the more able and qualified militarily you were the less likely you would advance which is why most of the best generals were Canadian or Australian. Winter gave several documented examples in his book of British generals displaying a total disregard for any military theory or advances. Haig still envisioned cavalry as the tool that would breakthru and end the war during the Battle of Cambrai. It was in spite of Haig and some of the Army commanders that Tanks and rolling barrages were implemented to great effect. If Lloyd-George had had the power to make the changes he wanted in the British High Command the Brits may very well have become much more effective much sooner.

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I have to say that Mosier's book 'The Myth of the Great War' was a terrific read. I finished it the other day.

His thoughts about French and British propaganda were very profound and insightful.

I'm not wanting to get into an argument or anything. I really liked it.

Cheers

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I have to say that Mosier's book 'The Myth of the Great War' was a terrific read. I finished it the other day.

His thoughts about French and British propaganda were very profound and insightful.

I'm not wanting to get into an argument or anything. I really liked it.

Cheers

One of my favorite Great War books also!!!

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World War I by H.P. Willmott - DK Press

Great Book for People not familiar with World War 1 and surrounding Politics.

He writes about Politics, Military History, Weapons and many much details and beliefs of people in that time. Great pictures and explanations.

A good book for Hobby-Historians and for beginners.

Fine book and easy to read.

My personal favourite :cool:

Cheers

Dominik

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Been reading "A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, 1914 to 1918" by G.J.Meyer lately, great overview of the war. Meyers book gives a nice background on the origins of the war and the status of the major players leading up to the war.

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The Guns of August is one of the best books I have ever read. It opens with Queen Victoria's funeral and closes with the Allied counter-attack on the Marne. Tuchman is unsurpassed as a writer.

The Proud Tower is another Tuchman masterpiece. It is a panorama of pre-war Europe (and the United States) which focuses on specific events and personalities. A must read.

The Lions of July is a fantastic look at the crisis leading up to the outbreak of hostilities.

Castles of Steel is a superb look at the war at sea. Dreadnought, by the same author, is the prequel and looks primarily at the Anglo-German naval rivalry.

Just some that come to mind........

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The Guns of August is one of the best books I have ever read. It opens with Queen Victoria's funeral and closes with the Allied counter-attack on the Marne. Tuchman is unsurpassed as a writer.

The Proud Tower is another Tuchman masterpiece. It is a panorama of pre-war Europe (and the United States) which focuses on specific events and personalities. A must read.

The Lions of July is a fantastic look at the crisis leading up to the outbreak of hostilities.

Castles of Steel is a superb look at the war at sea. Dreadnought, by the same author, is the prequel and looks primarily at the Anglo-German naval rivalry.

Just some that come to mind........

Tuchman was a fine writer but not much of an historian, her books were a product of 1960's Britain, pretty much just propaganda.

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Tuchman was a fine writer but not much of an historian, her books were a product of 1960's Britain, pretty much just propaganda.

I don't see that at all in either of the books I referenced - and as a historian I can tell you both are factually accurate.

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I don't see that at all in either of the books I referenced - and as a historian I can tell you both are factually accurate.

Guess we are gonna have to agree to disagree there, I consider Tuchman's 'history' little more than the 'official' history put out by the British during and after the war and extremely biased. If you want to read a book about the whole of the Great War with no bias toward any side I would highly recommend "A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, 1914 to 1918" by G.J.Meyer. Absolutely fascinating!!!!

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The British Official History is extremely useful for scenario design, but when it comes to analysing strategies and mistakes made, that's where the fun begins!

The most useful single volume source I used for researching this game is David Stevenson's 1914-1918: the History of the First World War.

It's also been published under different titles and in foreign translation as Cataclysm: the First World War as Political Tragedy (by Basic Books, USA), La Grande Guerra: Una Storia Globale (by Rizzoli, Italy) and Der Erste Weltkrieg (by Artemis and Winkler, Germany).

It's not a light beginner's book, but for anyone wanting a good grasp of pretty much every aspect of the war it is great because it is so comprehensive and gives good coverage to the political and diplomatic aspects of the war, including the home fronts and the growth of opposition to the war.

A WWI novel that I really enjoyed when a friend lent it to me a few years back was Peter Jackson, Cigar Merchant by Gilbert Frankau. It gives a really good feel for the atmosphere within the expanding British army early in the war, and the battle sections are more interesting, and probably far more authentic, than the average misconception that WWI was just about suicidal charges across no man's land.

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good book THE SOMME dont' remmbers authors name:)

Peter Hart perhaps? Anthony Farrar-Hockley also wrote one, and no doubt there are many others.

What's always interested me about this battle was the way in which the French did pretty well on the 1st July, but the British results were so dramatically different (although it wasn't all a total failure, despite the high casualties).

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i fine the book author is lyn macdonald, has collected testimonies of soldiers involved in the battle of the Somme . she also has, They Called It Passchendaele, an account of the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917.

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Oh yes, I'd forgotten about her. I've read and enjoyed her book on 1915 which was very good. Just haven't got round to any of the others yet, there are so many WWI books and not enough time!

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The First World War by John Keegan. Good overview, but not as good as his book on WWII.

Pity of War by Nial Ferguson. Interesting, but true?

Myth of the Great War by Mosier. Contrarianism may be fun to read, but it´s still junk.

The White War by Mark Thompson. Really interesting book on the Italian/Austrian alpine front.

The Eastern Front by Norman Stone. What I like best about this book is his sober analysis of attrition warfare. It wasn´t pointless and made absolute sense given the technological constraints (no mobile radios, no trucks) of the early 20th century.

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Books on the Great War

I am taking a break from playing the game, and thought it might be worth adding a few comments in this interesting thread. I have read a number of the books mentioned so far, although I have not had a chance to look at David Stevenson’s history yet, and it does sound good. My candidate for the best single volume history of the war was published at about the same time by Hew Strachan, with the catchy title of ‘The First World War’. Since I have not read the Stevenson book yet I cannot say which is better, but I certainly found Strachan’s book an amazing summary of the entire conflict in just 340 pages – an astonishing achievement and I do not say that simply because it is succinct, but also because I found it brilliant. Strachan previously published a 1200 page Volume 1 of a planned three part history of the First World War, which is also quite good (although far, far less succinct). (The remaining two parts are still in limbo, to the best of my knowledge).

Another author not mentioned yet is Holger W Herwig, who published ‘The First World War: Germany and Austria-Hungary 1914-1918’. This is a really interesting book because it not only covers the eastern European theatre more thoroughly than usual, but it also delved extensively into German language sources. The perspective on the war is quite worth the read.

Gordon Corrigan (Mud. Blood and Poppycock) and Gary Sheffield (Forgotten Victory) are two other histories of the war worth noting as well. Both are more focused on the British involvement, but are reasonably recent and quite interesting. They build on a lot of the previous scholarship of the twentieth century to provide useful perspectives.

Finally, a book that looks at the end of the war is interesting because it helps to bring the incredible variety of political perspectives into focus. Margaret Macmillan’s ‘Paris 1919’ is both authoritative and well written. Not strictly a book about the war, but the focus on trying to forge a peace settlement AFTER the war is very useful.

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Books on the Great War

I am taking a break from playing the game, and thought it might be worth adding a few comments in this interesting thread. I have read a number of the books mentioned so far, although I have not had a chance to look at David Stevenson’s history yet, and it does sound good. My candidate for the best single volume history of the war was published at about the same time by Hew Strachan, with the catchy title of ‘The First World War’. Since I have not read the Stevenson book yet I cannot say which is better, but I certainly found Strachan’s book an amazing summary of the entire conflict in just 340 pages – an astonishing achievement and I do not say that simply because it is succinct, but also because I found it brilliant. Strachan previously published a 1200 page Volume 1 of a planned three part history of the First World War, which is also quite good (although far, far less succinct). (The remaining two parts are still in limbo, to the best of my knowledge).

Another author not mentioned yet is Holger W Herwig, who published ‘The First World War: Germany and Austria-Hungary 1914-1918’. This is a really interesting book because it not only covers the eastern European theatre more thoroughly than usual, but it also delved extensively into German language sources. The perspective on the war is quite worth the read.

Gordon Corrigan (Mud. Blood and Poppycock) and Gary Sheffield (Forgotten Victory) are two other histories of the war worth noting as well. Both are more focused on the British involvement, but are reasonably recent and quite interesting. They build on a lot of the previous scholarship of the twentieth century to provide useful perspectives.

Finally, a book that looks at the end of the war is interesting because it helps to bring the incredible variety of political perspectives into focus. Margaret Macmillan’s ‘Paris 1919’ is both authoritative and well written. Not strictly a book about the war, but the focus on trying to forge a peace settlement AFTER the war is very useful.

I enjoyed Strachan's book but I am finishing up A World Undone by G.J Meyer and am finding it much more fascinating. Meyer just seems to supply much more background info and the why's and whatfor's than Strachan's book.

I just watched "Paris 1919" on the History channel a couple days ago, I think it was based on Macmillan's book. Macmillan btw is a relative of Lloyd-George. Was quite interesting.

Holger's ‘The First World War: Germany and Austria-Hungary 1914-1918’ is sitting on deck on my nightstand as soon as I finish Meyers book :D

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One of the best WW1 books I have read is "The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916" by Alistair Horne. Not just an excellent history of a landmark WW1 battle, but one of the best overall history books ever written. Highly recommended!

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Two that are on my shelf that were written by famous names of WWII deserve a mention:

Erwin Rommel's Infantry Attacks and Heinz Guderian's Achtung Panzer!

Of course, the second one isn't just about WWI but it does give a lot of information on some WWI battles and tactics, and it explains the context from where the ideas that developed into Blitzkrieg warfare came from.

Both also show that there was much more to WWI than the frequent misconception that it was just about going over the top and being massacred. Especially at the strategic level this war has so much more to offer.

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