The First World War: A Complete History
Henry Holt and Company, 2004 - 615 pages
At 11:15 on the morning of June 28, 1914, in an outpost of the Austro-Hungarian Empire called Sarajevo, the twentieth century could be said to have been born. The repercussions of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand -- Emperor Franz Josef's nephew and heir apparent -- by a Bosnian Serb are with us to this day. The immediate aftermath of that act was war. Global in extent, it would last almost five years and leave five million civilian casualties and more than nine million military dead. On both the Allied and Central Powers sides, losses -- missing, wounded, dead -- were enormous. After the war, barely a town or village in Europe was without its monument to the dead. The war also left us with new technologies of death: tanks, planes, and submarines; reliable rapid-fire machine guns and artillery; motorized cavalry. It ushered in new tactics of warfare: shipping convoys and U-boat packs, dog fights and reconnaissance air support. And it bequeathed to us terrors we still cannot control: poison gas and chemical warfare, strategic bombing of civilian targets, massacres and atrocities against entire population groups. But most of all, it changed our world. In its wake, empires toppled, monarchies fell, whole political systems realigned. Instabilities became institutionalized, enmities enshrined. Revolution swept to power ideologies of the left and right. And the social order shifted seismically. Manners, mores, codes of behavior; literature and the arts; education and class distinctions: all underwent a vast sea change. In all these ways, the twentieth century could be said to have been born on the morning of June 28, 1914. Now, in a companion volume to his acclaimed The Second World War, Martin Gilbert weaves together all of these elements to create a stunning, dramatic, and informative narrative. The First World War is everything we have come to expect from the scholar the Times Literary Supplement placed "in the first rank of contemporary historians."
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