ForeWord Reviews

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World War One

Foreword Review — Jan / Feb 1999

World War I has shaped the history of this century. It reconfigured the world map, and forever shifted the global balance of power. Empires fell and new forces ascended. It was the first war in which tanks, submarines and airplanes were used, and in which battlefield casualties outnumbered those from disease.

Editor Hew Strachan, Professor of Modern History at the University of Glasgow, presents 23 chapters written by 21 leading international historians that offer a fresh view of the Great War and its enduring legacy. Historian John Morrow says that the air war was a war of chivalry where individual courage prevailed over the industrialization of war. J.M. Winter discusses the mobilization of men’s minds through propaganda. Mutinies at the front and their reasons are explored by David Englander. Robin Prior and Trevor Wilson argue that by 1916 the sophistication and scale of artillery was the conditioning factor in war on the western front. And Gail Braybon warns against the perils of exaggerating the mobilization of women in the workplace.

Better understanding of the various views of these historians could have been enhanced by including more maps for the orientation of the reader. In Paul G. Halpern’s “The War at Sea” there are numerous pictures of ships such as three Arethusa class light cruisers, but no maps to help with placement.

Insights into these historical events are extensive and written with a strong sense of diligent research. Time will be well spent perusing the military strategies, the roles of the strategists and understanding the overwhelming political ramifications. More background on the historians would have been welcomed. This is a good book for general audiences and scholars alike.

Harry O. Lang Jr.