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The Great War: A Combat History of the First World War Hardcover – May 9, 2013

ISBN-13: 978-0199976270 ISBN-10: 0199976279 Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"For a clear combat history of the war that represents current thinking and examines every major theatre, Peter Hart's The Great War is hard to beat." --The Economist


"A valuable, timely, and highly readable overview of the Great War on all major fronts." --Peter Simkins MBE, President of the Western Front Association


"This is an exceptional history of WWI... The Great War is a 'must have' book for the scholar and historian of the first World War." --The Lone Star Book Review


"In a subject of this size, the scope of the narrative can be intimidating. But Hart, the author of many previous military histories, is up to the task... The Great War is a perfect addition to the libraries of military buffs, especially those obsessed with the cataclysmic effects of 'the war to end all wars.'" --ForeWord


"Hart cuts to the chase and goes straight to the major events and fronts that mattered...This is the only single volume Great War history you need." --Mark Barnes, War History Online


"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.'"
--Publishers Weekly


About the Author


Peter Hart is Oral Historian of the Imperial War Museum in London. He is the author of The Somme: The Darkest Hour on the Western Front, 1918: A Very British Victory, Gallipoli, and Fire and Movement: The British Expeditionary Force and the Campaign of 1914.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (May 9, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199976279
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199976270
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.8 x 6.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (135 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,971 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Peter Hart has worked as the Oral Historian of the Imperial War Museum since 1981. He is the author of several books on the Great War. His latest book Is 'Fire and Movement: The British Expeditionary Force and the Campaign of 1914'. In a former life he was the lead singer of the Liverpool punk rock band 'Those Naughty Lumps'.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Randy Stafford VINE VOICE on May 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover
A concise yet emotional general history of WWI, an event, as Hart justifiably says, that was the most important event in the 20th century.

Hart does not attempt the comprehensiveness of volume one of Hew Strachan's By Hew Strachan - The First World War: Volume I: To Arms: 1st (first) Edition or even John Keegan's An Illustrated History of the First World War. Hart explicitly confines himself to just the main theaters of the war thus there is no coverage of sub-Saharan operations or events in China, and he concentrates on the Western Front because it is there, he argues, that the war was ultimately decided and mostly by British efforts.

Thus one of the three things Hart particularly emphasizes is the folly of the "easterners", generals and politicians, particularly David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill, who wasted resources on pursuing illusive victory in other areas. That includes not only the notorious Gallipoli campaign but the mission creep of operations in Mesopotamia and Palestine after the vital assets of oil fields and the Suez Canal were secured.

Another area of emphasis is an attack on the clichéd image of the war: men going over the top, slogging across a shell ravaged land only to die by machine gun fire, bodies tangled in barbed wire, a stupid slaughter conducted for four long years by stupid generals, "lions led by donkeys" as the famous statement goes. In fact, Allied tactics did change in the use of artillery, how trenches were assaulted, how and when taken objectives were held, and the use of machine guns.
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Robert Massey on April 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover
At the end of Peter Hart's impressive and timely reassessment of The Great War, the author weaves together some arguments and some questions. Why is it that the events of 1914-1918 continue to exert such a powerful hold on the popular imagination? How can we really understand the scale and the breadth of the campaigns, and of the losses? For this truly was a global conflict, producing losses he estimates at 9.7 million and injuries of 21 million. If your knowledge of the war is mostly focussed on the Western Front, and on 1914-1916, Hart provides useful summaries of the conflict in Italy, Salonika and Palestine, among others. We would expect him to be excellent on Gallipoli, given his past publications, and he is; likewise he is as much at home with the Grand Fleet and the submarine menace as he is in outlining the new technologies of war, a particular strength of this book. That great Hart characteristic, a telling eye for a quotation, whether from the rich archives of the Imperial War Museum or from published accounts, is much in evidence in this book, so the human interest element is never far away. Haig calling Admiral Jellicoe an `old woman'? Right here. Mustafa Kemal ordering his troops not to attack the Anzacs, but to die? Check.

I don't think that this book is intended to provide definitive answers and unassailable opinions about 1914-1918. What it does do is to provide a glorious overview, in succinct chapters, of some strong evidence which must surely influence our opinions. As we face the forthcoming national commemoration of the centenary of the war, we surely cannot continue to accept unquestionably myths and heresies peddled for particular reasons during the last century.
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36 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Weitz VINE VOICE on March 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This review is based upon reading an "Uncorrected Advanced Reading Copy" of the book, so some of the negative comments in the third paragraph will probably be addressed.

This work is a well-written, footnoted military history of World War I, and a good contemporary one-volume history of the war. The sub- title of "A Combat History" is a bit miss-leading at times, as the emphasis seems to be on the larger scale rather than the individual's personal experiences; yet those that are included are harrowing, and will remind the reader of The Great War and Modern Memory by Paul Fussell . Some obscure campaigns are well covered. The Kut fiasco is well-addressed; and is perhaps an indication of why Saddam Hussein had the hubris to feel he could fight off an American invasion. Although the book would profit from a chapter based bibliography, the author has an excellent list under "Acknowledgements". These are good, modern, and readily accessible as far as they go; yet there are few or no references to works published outside of Britain and America. Is the approaching centenary of the war being ignored in Belgium, Germany, France, Russia, Italy, Turkey, Australia, India and Canada?

The examination copy that I received lacks maps and illustrations, and there is no reference to such in the table of contents. Considering the author's background it is not surprising that the work is Anglo-centric. Yet, there are disappointing gaps in the source origins and references. In the four chapters on the Eastern Front there are only about 4 footnotes, the only "Russian" source is a quote attributed to Kerensky by the American Marxist John Reed; and there is not one combat description. Even in the Italian Campaign the author seemed unable to find one Italian description of the experience.
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