The Great War: A Combat History of the First World War

Peter Hart. Oxford Univ., $34.95 (544p) ISBN 978-0-19-997627-0
Like Hart’s previous volumes on Gallipoli, The Somme, and the end of the First World War (1918), his newest is structured and defined by extensive illustrative quotations from contemporary sources. The work focuses on “the most dramatic battles and those that actually had the potential... to end the war,” thus readers will be familiar with many of the conflicts profiled here—the Marne, the Somme and Verdun, Passchendaele, the offensives of 1918, and several Anglocentric secondary theaters, including Gallipoli and Mesopotamia. In each case, the author synergizes institutional, technological, and tactical dynamics with personal accounts of commanding officers, and though the bulk of the latter is derived from familiar published material, Hart sheds fresh light on the perspectives of Joseph Joffre, Douglas Haig, Sir John Jellicoe, and their contemporaries. The more extensive first-person contributions from the soldiers themselves evoke the ground-level dimensions of a war whose story is too often told from up high or far afield. Throughout, Hart demonstrates an admirable command of the subject matter and offers a compelling case for the lasting impact of the “unwaking nightmare that was WWI.” 16 pages of b&w photos. Agent: George Lucas, Inkwell Management. (May)
Reviewed on: 02/18/2013
Release date: 05/01/2013
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