The First World War

The First World War Author John Keegan
ISBN-10 0375700455
ISBN-13 9780375700453
Year 2000-05-16
Pages 528
Language English
Publisher Vintage
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The definitive account of the Great War and national bestseller from one of our most eminent military historians John Keegan The First World War created the modern world A conflict of unprecedented ferocity it abruptly ended the relative peace and prosperity of the Victorian era unleashing such demons of the twentieth century as mechanized warfare and mass death It also helped to usher in the ideas that have shaped our times modernism in the arts new approaches to psychology and medicine radical thoughts about economics and society and in so doing shattered the faith in rationalism and liberalism that had prevailed in Europe since the Enlightenment The First World War probes the mystery of how a civilization at the height of its achievement could have propelled itself into such a ruinous conflict and takes us behind the scenes of the negotiations among Europe s crowned heads all of them related to one another by blood and ministers and their doomed efforts to defuse the crisis Keegan reveals how by an astonishing failure of diplomacy and communication a bilateral dispute grew to engulf an entire continent But the heart of Keegan s superb narrative is of course his analysis of the military conflict With unequalled authority and insight he recreates the nightmarish engagements whose names have become legend Verdun the Somme and Gallipoli among them and sheds new light on the strategies and tactics employed particularly the contributions of geography and technology No less central to Keegan s account is the human aspect He acquaints us with the thoughts of the intriguing personalities who oversaw the tragically unnecessary catastrophe from heads of state like Russia s hapless tsar Nicholas II to renowned warmakers such as Haig Hindenburg and Joffre But Keegan reserves his most affecting personal sympathy for those whose individual efforts history has not recorded the anonymous millions indistinguishably drab undifferentially deprived of any scrap of the glories that by tradition made the life of the man at arms tolerable By the end of the war three great empires the Austro Hungarian the Russian and the Ottoman had collapsed But as Keegan shows the devastation ex tended over the entirety of Europe and still profoundly informs the politics and culture of the continent today His brilliant panoramic account of this vast and terrible conflict is destined to take its place among the classics of world history

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