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Comment: A well-viewed ex library issue hardback with a few usual marks. Dust jacket is present with a spine sticker. The book remains fully intact with a good spine and in very readable condition with text/pages free from rips, creases or other markings. Usual handling and shelf wear are present.
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The Myth of the Great War : A New Military History of World War 1 Hardcover – April 24, 2001


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1st edition (April 24, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060196769
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060196769
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (116 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,315,168 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In reading and analyzing the great body of tactical and operational literature published by French soldiers and academicians in the interwar period, Loyola English professor and film critic Mosier, who is fluent in French, brings to light a perspective generally neglected by historians who prefer to tell the war's story from a German or British view. For most of WWI, Mosier reminds us, it was the French who held most of the front and did most of the dying. In contrast to the German army's systematic success at technical and tactical innovation, Mosier finds that French and British generals "solved" battlefield problems by throwing shells and bodies at them, then concealing the gruesome results from their governments and their people. Allied victory, he argues, depended on an American Expeditionary Force whose commander, Gen. John J. Pershing, saw through the pretensions of his counterparts in command, and insisted on fighting the war in his own way. While Mosier's argument is eloquently presented, scholars of the period will find it consistently spoiled by overstatement; the German army of WWI as described by most historians is nothing like the tempered and perfected instrument described in these pages, and Mosier's notion of Verdun as a German victory was not likely to be found in the ranks or the headquarters of the divisions who fought there. Still, this is the best narrative account in English of the Franco-German combat in central and in southern France from the aftermath of the Marne in 1914 to the end of Verdun in 1916. Buffs and scholars will take note, but the detailed maps, charts and technical focus will put off generalists.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Mosier (English, Loyola Univ.) offers a scathing indictment of the Allied military mindset that caused so many senseless deaths on the Western Front during the Great War. For example, Mosier argues that it took the slaughter of thousands of infantrymen before the British and French commands tried to use artillery as an effective offensive weapon. Even then, Allied artillery bombardments never matched their opponents' effective use of heavy-caliber howitzers. Mosier points out that from the very beginning the German General Staff attempted to minimize losses by making firepower central to its offensive tactics. Consequently, German casualties were half those of the Allies. Blind adherence to antiquated military doctrines is not a new criticism of Allied generalship, but Mosier's original scholarship does offer a fresh perspective on an old theme. Recommended for public and academic libraries with strong military history collections. Jim Doyle, Sara Hightower Regional Lib., Rome, GA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Which doesn't mean you might not want to read this book.
Steven Zoraster
The problem is Mosier fails to explain that the greater the German triumph at the tactical level the worse their strategic situation became.
Si Sheppard
Mosier has clearly not checked his facts or read all the sources.
Colonel John Hughes-Wilson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

98 of 128 people found the following review helpful By MR. PAUL J. BARTON on January 23, 2004
Format: Paperback
It is quite noticeable that most of the rave reviews on this site (and Amazon.uk) come from readers who don't seem to know a great deal about the Great War (in one or two cases clearly motivated by anti-British animus), and the pannings come from those who do. The author doesn't do himself any favours by admitting that he hadn't known much about World War One before starting to research the book - a cynic might say that explains a lot.
The book does contain some interesting material on the Franco-German War. The first thesis, that the Germans were tactically superior to the Allies, is largely true, for the first half of the war at any rate, but Mosier ruins his case by exaggeration, such as claiming that the British were "routed" at Mons, or that the Germans were not really beaten at the Marne, or that Verdun was a German victory.
His knowledge of politics and diplomacy is painfully thin - he admits he cannot grasp what Britain gained from the Entente Cordiale (an ally against Germany's threat to dominate the continent - the same policy Britain had pursued against Louis XIV and Napoleon) or how the small (in 1914) BEF was of any importance to the French - it is perfectly arguable that the small BEF provided the extra margin needed for the narrow French victory at the Marne. In the final chapters he seems to think that the USA dominated the other Allies in 1918 the way she did in the 1940s, which is simply not so.
Where the book really goes off the rails is in the sections dealing with the British (about whom he writes in a nasty, sarcastic tone which hardly indicates objectivity) and Americans.
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33 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Craig Swain on June 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
I actually found this book quite interesting and worth my time. The thesis is simply put that the Germans offered a far more flexible approach to tactical and operational problems encountered from 1914 on than the allies. Narrowly focused on that premise, the author supports his points well with in depth scholarship. Over and over again he recounts how the Germans grasped the technical concepts to overcome the tactical problems they were faced with from Belgium through Verdun and the Somme, and well into 1917.

In some ways Mosier falls in line with Paddy Griffin's thinking that there was no great tactical revolution from 1914-1918 due to the advent of the machine gun or other new weapons. Instead the changes and innovation were more gradual and dated back to the middle of the 19th century. Mosier points out repeatedly major differences between the Germans and allies with regard to artillery employment. His descriptions of the German, French and English artillery parks are right on target. The Germans had invested much in lighter field howitzers and mortars than the allies. And this difference would be to great advantage in the battles on the Western front. Mosier elaborates further on the mistaken Allied faith in shrapnel rounds to inflict damage on the enemy works. While today the true shrapnel round is all but gone (shrapnel we hear of today is just pieces of the HE shell itself, not pellets encased in the round as dating back to the 19th Century shells), at that day and age many artillerists felt shrapnel rounds were the most effective to use against infantry, cavalry, and general targets. There was even the belief that shrapnel would cut barbed wire, thus clearing no-man's-land for the advancing infantry. All was found to be faulty during the war years.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By T. Graczewski VINE VOICE on March 12, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is a difficult book to review. On the one hand, it offers some interesting revisionist arguments and conclusions on the nature of the First World War and some keen insights into specific tactical issues. On the other hand, the author seems to needlessly stretch a couple of specific arguments into a full-length narrative of the conflict, which wasn't necessary and actually dilutes the impact of his case.

Mosier's central thesis is somewhat unique and worthy of deeper examination. In short, this book is all about allied intelligence failure; more specifically, he argues, the Allies couldn't accurately count the German war dead. Mosier's case goes something like this: the Allied High Command sincerely believed that they were killing many more Germans in their attacks and bombardments than they were losing themselves (the reverse, of course, was true). Because they thought their attacks were succeeding in bleeding the Germans white -- to apply the German philosophy of Verdun -- the allies didn't believe innovation on the Western Front was necessary. Moreover, Mosier says, when it came to things they could count, they counted the wrong things. For example, they religiously tabulated and compared relative manpower, but not heavy artillery, which he argues was the decisive force on the western front.

His conclusions on the overestimation of allied killing power, however, raise some other sticky questions. For instance, had the allies known the truth about how badly they were losing the body count, would they have sued for peace on terms favorable to the Germans in, say, 1915?
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