cover image The War to End All Wars: World War I

The War to End All Wars: World War I

Russell Freedman, Clarion, $22 (192p) ISBN 978-0-547-02686-2

This gritty, well-sourced account of WWI offers a compelling and often horrific look at the conflict. Freedman (Washington at Valley Forge) hooks readers with his fluid style and a detail-rich story of Archduke Ferdinand's assassination and the political powder keg that existed at the time in Europe. The book recounts gruesome mass killings brought about by trench warfare and going "over the top" into the "no man's land" in between, combined with the debuting technologies of machine guns and tanks, chemical and air warfare. Haunting b&w photos and poignant quotations from both Central and Allied combatants do not gloss over atrocities ("dozens of men with serious wounds must have crawled for safety into new shell holes, and now the water was rising about them, and... they were slowly drowning"). This remarkable pictorial overview of WWI, its causes, major battles, and legacies (namely WWII and the repartitioning of Europe and the Middle East) concludes with chapter notes, bibliography, and index. Readers' conclusions will likely mirror that of a French soldier writing in his diary just before he was killed: "Humanity is mad!... What scenes of horror and carnage!" Ages 12–up. (Aug.)