The Western Front: A History of the Great War, 1914–1918

Nick Lloyd. Liveright, $35 (640p) ISBN 978-1-63149-794-0
In the sweeping first volume of a planned trilogy on WWI, historian Lloyd (Passchendaele: The Lost Victory of World War I) examines how the muddy battlefields of France and Belgium became “a bubbling, fermenting experiment in killing that changed the world.” He vividly describes artillery fire raining down on the fortresses of Liège in the war’s opening engagement, draws incisive profiles of commanders including German general Helmuth von Moltke (“there was always a strange, languid softness about [him]”), and recounts fierce debates among political and military leaders on both sides of the conflict over battlefield tactics and troop movements. Lloyd also details how new technologies including aerial surveillance and poison gas contributed to staggering casualty rates, and documents U.S. general John Pershing’s repeated refusals to integrate American troops into existing Allied ranks. Recounting weeks of tortured negotiations that followed the Meuse-Argonne offensive, Lloyd notes that Allied supreme leader Ferdinand Foch was “quite satisfied” with the conditions of the armistice, while Pershing and French general Henri Phillipe Pétain, the future head of Vichy France, would have preferred to keep fighting. Distinguished by its trenchant observations and massive level of detail marshaled into a fluid narrative, this is a sterling record of WWI’s most consequential theater. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 02/08/2021
Release date: 03/09/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
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