The First World War

Martin Gilbert
Introduced by the author

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.

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.

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