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FlyingWolf's avatar

Fluther history buffs, can you recommend a good book with an overview of World War I?

Asked by FlyingWolf (2815points) April 18th, 2014

I am interested in gaining a working knowledge of the history of World War I and I am not sure where to begin. Can someone recommend a good book to get me started?

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8 Answers

Dan_Lyons's avatar

Check out “The Origins of the First World War,” by James Joll.

gailcalled's avatar

Paul Fussell’s The Great War and Modern Memory is a wonderful place to start.

” Fussell’s landmark study of W.W.I remains as original and gripping today as ever before: a literate, literary, and illuminating account of the Great War, the one that changed a generation, ushered in the modern era, and revolutionized how we see the world.

Exploring the work of Siegfried Sassoon, Robert Graves, Edmund Blunden, David Jones, Isaac Rosenberg, and Wilfred Owen, Fussell supplies contexts, both actual and literary, for those writers who most effectively memorialized W.W.I as an historical experience with conspicuous imaginative and artistic meaning.”

He references many other original sources if you want more detail.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@FlyingWolf Does it have to be non-fiction? I came across a novel that really described it from a soldiers view. It covered some of the events leading up to the war, but really conveyed the horror that is war on that scale.

FlyingWolf's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe I always enjoy historical fiction.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Have you read Jeff Shaara’s To The Last Man? Or any of his or his father’s novels?

gailcalled's avatar

Pat Barker’s exraordinary three novels; The Regeneration Trilogy

“Barker does a phenomenal job of detailing the psychological consequences of trench warfare during the Great War. Set in London, Scotland, and France, the three volumes focus on the principle characters of Prior, Sassoon, Owens, and the renowned psychologist Dr.W.H. Rivers. Both their personal relationships with each other and with the First World War are examined.

The reader is provided a glimpse into the terrible conditions of trench fighting, and how the medical establishment viewed shell-shock as a medical diagnosis and how it was treated. Through the poetry of Owen, Sassoon, etc, the world can begin to understand the personal horrors they have witnessed of a war that many soldiers did not understand. Based loosely on historical events and characters, Barker has created a perspective of modern warfare that does not contain the quintessential happy ending.”

It was reading these three glittering novels that then led me to Fussell’s “The Great War.”

The third volume of the trilogy, “The Ghost Road,” won the Mann Booker award in 1995.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Tuchman’s “The guns of August” remains unsurpassed as far as the outbreak and opening stages of the conflict are concerned. The best critique on the overall stupidities of the war (and particularly the British fkups) is John Keegan’s “The First World War”.

flutherother's avatar

I’d recommend David Stevenson’s 1914 1918 It gives a good overview of the war from a modern perspective.

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