The First World War book

The First World War

Martin Gilbert

In his engrossing account, Martin Gilbert traces each step of the war’s progression, from the tensions and alliances leading up to it and the first skirmishes on the French and Belgian borders, to the final peacemaking and remembrance. His geographical scope is equally broad, from Mesopotamia and East Africa to the ‘forgotten war’ waged in the Atlantic.

Published price: US$ 169.95

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The First World War

In his engrossing account, Martin Gilbert traces each step of the war’s progression, from the tensions and alliances leading up to it and the first skirmishes on the French and Belgian borders, to the final peacemaking and remembrance. His geographical scope is equally broad, from Mesopotamia and East Africa to the ‘forgotten war’ waged in the Atlantic.

Production Details

The First World War book

2 volumes

Bound in cloth

Blocked with a design by Joe McLaren

Set in Utopia

Colour frontispieces and 40 pages of black & white plates

752 pages in total

Book Size: 10" x 6¾"

A masterly narrative that reveals the human face of the ‘war to end all wars’

On 28 June, 1914, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand was shot dead in Sarajevo by a Serbian nationalist. By midnight on 4 August, four empires were at war: the Austro-Hungarian Empire against Serbia; the German Empire against France, Britain and Russia; and the British and French empires against Germany. It was hoped that the fighting would end by Christmas; in fact, it lasted four years and left almost nine million soldiers dead, with many more maimed and scarred for life. A further five million civilians are estimated to have died under occupation. It was a war the likes of which had never been seen before, leaving an indelible mark on the politics and society of Europe and the wider world.

‘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

In his engrossing account, Martin Gilbert traces each step of the war’s progression, from the tensions and alliances leading up to it and the first skirmishes on the French and Belgian borders, to the final peacemaking and remembrance. His geographical scope is equally broad, from Mesopotamia and East Africa to the ‘forgotten war’ waged in the Atlantic. He analyses the often disastrous decisions of the commanders on all sides – Kitchener, Haig, Hindenburg, Ludendorff and Pétain – who pursued the stalemate on the Western Front at a terrible cost to human life. The testimonies of civilians, medical officers and nurses, pacifists and others who spoke out against the war, add a further perspective.

Above all, this history shows us the soldiers in the thick of battle, their appalling privations and ordeals, their nightmares and their heroism. Individual stories are central to the book. The Canadian Private Hugh McWhirter, ‘a terrified boy in an ill-fitting uniform’, was blown to pieces in Suvla Bay in the Dardanelles. The French novelist Jules Leroux ‘disappeared’ in Artois, one of 16,000 men bombarded by artillery until no trace of their bodies remained. Lieutenant Ewart Mackintosh carried one of his men to safety through German trenches, while under fire, and was later awarded the Military Cross. Private Henry Farr, who had been treated for shell-shock, could not face the return to the front so was court-martialled and executed for cowardice. These horrors inspired some of the finest poetry of the twentieth century, and Gilbert’s narrative is interspersed with the verse written by those who witnessed and fought in the war.

Stalemate on the Western Front was matched by turmoil in the east, as the war expanded into the Middle East and Turkey. With Russia’s withdrawal from the war Germany was unopposed in the east. However, the Allies, now joined by the United States and under a single commander, held firm along the Western Front, and eventually drove the exhausted German armies into retreat with a series of counter-offensives, culminating in surrender.

‘Masterly … Gilbert never forgets that the “embattled armies” were composed of millions of individuals … immensely readable … Gilbert’s grasp of his material is enviable and the result admirable. This is Everyman’s history of the First World War’
SUNDAY TIMES

The final chapters of this superb history consider the painful process of remembrance carried out by individuals, families and nations. They also show how this war would leave a bitter and unresolved conflict, to explode again within a generation.

‘A life-long aversion to reading about history was triumphantly cured by Martin Gilbert’s immense and absorbing work … reads like a good novel’
SCOTSMAN

Read more about the life and work of Martin Gilbert

Martin Gilbert

Martin Gilbert was born in London in 1936. He was educated at Highgate School in London, where several of his teachers had fought in the First World War, including Geoffrey Bell and A. P. White. After doing his National Military Service, he travelled in the Balkans and Turkey, then studied History at Magdalen College, Oxford, under A. J. P. Taylor, who was then writing his Origins of the Second World War. In 1968 he became the official biographer of Winston Churchill. He is the author of over 80 books and is a Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford.

Reviews


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Review by johnbean9 on 7th May 2013

Text: Illustrations: Binding: Rating: 5/5

"Gilbert provides a gripping account of the horrific struggle that was World War I. He focuses on the personal stories of a wide range of men and women who served in the conflict or knew someone who se..." [read more]

Review by pedro7 on 3rd May 2012

Text: Illustrations: Binding: Rating: 5/5

"Of all the books Folio are offering at the moment,these 2 volumes have to be the best.They are beautifully written,hugely informative and impart a detail of knowledge unsurpassed on the subject.I have..." [read more]

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