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The World Crisis, 1911-1918 Paperback – Abridged, October 6, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The World Crisis is at once an outstandingly readable history of the First World War -- the seminal drama of modern times -- and an eyewitness account, especially of its opening years. Whether as a statesman or an author, Churchill was a giant; and The World Crisis towers over most other books about the Great War."
-- David Fromkin, author of A Peace to End All Peace

"Winston Churchill's personality suffuses The World Crisis, not only in its arguments but also in its masterful prose. The book, however, aspires to be even more than that -- a general history of the war that shaped the twentieth century as well as the attitudes of one of the century's most powerful personalities."
-- Hew Strachan, author of The First World War

"In this remarkable work, Churchill, as a maker and a writer of history, explores the confusions and complexities of World War I, eerily foreshadowing the later global struggle he would fight alongside Franklin Roosevelt. In a new century, the book remains essential reading, as fresh and compelling as ever, for the central issue it addresses -- how a free people should chart their way through a world of conflicting interests -- is always with us."
-- Jon Meacham, bestselling author of Franklin and Winston

About the Author

Martin Gilbert was named Winston Churchill's official biographer in 1968. He is the author of seventy-five books, among them the single-volume Churchill: A Life, his twin histories The First World War and The Second World War, the comprehensive Israel: A History, and his three-volume History of the Twentieth Century. An Honorary Fellow of Merton College, Oxford, and a Distinguished Fellow of Hillsdale College, Michigan, he was knighted in 1995 "for services to British history and international relations," and in 1999 he was awarded a Doctorate of Literature by the University of Oxford for the totality of his published work.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 880 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; Reissue edition (October 6, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: '9780743283434
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743283434
  • ASIN: 0743283430
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #425,497 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By gaston magrinat on August 18, 2006
Format: Paperback
Sir Winston has a wonderfull dominion of the English language and, with the simplest words, conveys the action, or completes a description, in way that you feel part of the story.

On this particular opus the style is vintage Churchill and the book is quite a delight to read.

Having said all that, and to go to the point, this is not a book you want to read as your first on WW I.

His is a personal narrative, of all the episodes on which he played a part, with insights that only a witness to the events can give.

Large parts of the events of this war are skimmed over or simply not mentioned, the descriptions of battles are succint and to the point, etc.

His coverage of the Turkish front, specially the infamous Galiopoli campaign, is an attemt to come clean on that dark episode and, this section is worth the rice of the book by itself.It honestly narrates it from the inside and lais the blame evenly and with great sincerity.

If you have a working knoledge of the war, if you have read a general history of it or, for an example of a great starting book "The Guns of August", then this book will be gem on your library's history section
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56 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Jeff on June 21, 2007
Format: Paperback
I would love to read Churchill's World Crisis - but only in the original set. This is a condensed version, and reading it would be like reading an abridgment of Gibbon. If anyone knows where I can get the complete text, please send me a message and let me know.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Craig MACKINNON on August 31, 2009
Format: Paperback
This one-volume history of WWI is necessarily a severely abridged version of Churchill's multi-volume history. What is remarkable is that this book never reads as an abridgement - it is engrossing and complete in its own right. Any problems I have with this abridgement I would also have with the full version. Some are not Winston's fault: the most obvious is that maps are difficult to read and placed in bizzare locations. There is also the glaring omission of any kind of post-war analysis. The last volume of the full work came out after the peace conference, so Churchill could have included a chapter or even a few pages on Versailles. There are, of course, many modern books on the subject (e.g. MacMillan's recent "Paris 1919"), but these are written knowing that Versailles was simply a cease-fire (or to use Churchill's own memorable phrase, the "20-year armistice"). What did the British and French think of the treaty in the '20s? Finally, as a Canadian, it is deeply insulting that Churchill never once mentions the presence of Canadian soldiers in the line - we are simply lumped in with the "British Army", even when acting as an independent corps, as at Vimy Ridge (it's not like the Battle of Vimy Ridge is ignored, in fact it is talked about several times!).

The other criticism that has been levelled against this work, and it is entirely valid, is that it is very self-serving to the author. To quote another Churchillism (although he apparently never said it exactly this way), "History will be kind to me for I intend to write it." A neophyte reader could be excused from thinking, on the basis of this book, that the most important battles in WWI were between Britain and Turkey.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Don Graeter on August 20, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a great work. Be aware, however, that this particular version of Churchill's The World Crisis does not include the final volume, entitled The Aftermath, which is an integral part of the original though published a bit later. I bought this book primarily to have a reading copy of the chapter regarding Ireland contained in The Aftermath and was disappointed to find that this is not contained in this particular version.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Peter Hobson on August 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
The first part covers 1914 to 1916 when Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty. This is an apologia for Churchill's actions, especially the Dardanelles and Gallipoli campaigns. It's quite self-serving, for instance Churchill expressed surprise when Jackie Fisher resigned as First Sea Lord. If Churchill was surprised, he was in the minority, considering how loudly Fisher objected to the Dardanelles fiasco.

After Churchill was forced out of office and became a lieutenant colonel in the Royal Scots Fusiliers, the book was no longer written in the first person. It became a thought-provoking commentary on the last two years of the war. Churchill no longer had to justify his actions, and wrote an intelligent, knowledgeable discussion on the war. This second part of the book is well worth reading.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A.H. Lloyd on December 25, 2012
Format: Paperback
Many of the reviews of this book center on a few points and highlight them as flaws. The most common seem to be:

1. It is an abridgement
2. It is from Churchill's perspective
3. It assumes the reader has a general knowledge of the war

All of these are true, and none of them detract from the excellence of this book.

As some have noted (and as the book itself states) this is an abridgement authorized by Churchill himself that also includes some revisions. Churchill recognized that a more compact presentation would be more accessible and also support the publication of his (then-upcoming) The Aftermath. While I would love to see the unabridged edition, I am glad to have this one available and it is outstanding.

The fact that it is predominantly from Churchill's perspective is also a feature rather than a bug. He was a leading figure during the war and only after reading the World Crisis can one fully relate to the Second World War.

Churchill started the work to exonerate himself over the Dardanelles affair, and this campaign necessarily forms the centerpiece of the work. His thesis is simple: Given the tactics of 1914-17, the ancient dictum of concentration of force no longer applied. The more men that massed for battle, the higher the casualties. Only in theaters where troop density was lower could a decision be achieved. This also played to Britain's decisive advantage in sea power. It is a powerful argument masterfully made.

Finally, writing as he did while these events were still fresh it was wise for him assume the reader was versed in the basic outlines of events. That we can still turn it to it almost a century later speaks to the power of the work and the genius of its author.
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