The First World War - The Complete Series
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- Includes 32-page booklet
Top Customer Reviews
Although the First World War gets less attention than its successor, it was really the watershed event of the 20th century. This conflict shaped the world that came after to this day. It was the catalyst for the rise of soviet communism in Russia, whose unravelling less than a decade and a half ago continues to affect worldwide diplomacy and economics. Germany's defeat provided the opportunity for fascism and Hitler to come to power there, causing the Second World War and its greater destruction. The defeat of the Ottoman Empire during the First World War and the diplomatic and political morass that followed was the precursor for the reconstitution of Israel and eventually brought the Middle East into center stage today.
This series is based upon the books and encyclopedic knowledge of Professor Hugh Strachan. It examines every aspect of the war, from its causes to the conduct of the war on and behind the front lines to its aftermath. In doing so, it covers the diplomatic, political, military and social aspects, each of which played a role in shaping what happened and why. It does not just present the summary facts but goes in depth in its explanations. For example, instead of simply depicting the spring 1918 German offensive on the western front, it gives detail about how they accomplished it, the attitudes of the troops on each side and the thought processes of the respective high commands.
Not having seen Kenneth Branagh's World War 1 in Color, this reviewer is incompetant to compare the two. However, because this series is thorough and draws upon the professor who may well be THE authority on this era of history, it is likely the best presentation on the subject available today.
Special attention is paid to specific details that most other series leave out; for example, the role of the Ottoman Turks, the significant naval battles between Germany and Great Britain, the battles in the Middle East, and the contributions of the British Commonwealth soldiers from across the Empire. It makes the old CBS series narrated by Robert Ryan a mere footnote and PBS's politically-correct "The Great War" resemble something of a mere amateur documentary filmmaker. Much of the unseen footage secured by Channel 4 in making the documentary was recently discovered from archives in Central and Eastern Europe. The series also takes a close-up look of the weaponry and the letters/diary entries of soldiers from both sides.
Can a excellent documentary compel you to read more on the subject? Well, this one certainly can. This series makes WWI a most fascinating subject worthy of further study and analysis. Too often, what has been mistakenly taught in school is that WWI was merely a "dress rehersal" for the rise of fascism and WWII. This series proves otherwise and we need more first-class documentary series like this. Kudos to Johnathan Lewis and Channel 4 for putting together such a superb series. I liked the series so much, I purchased the Hew Strachan book the series is based on! A real gem....
Of course, some of the interpretations are judgement calls. I personally think the Germans get off rather easily in the discussion of war origins (the famous "blank check" is interpreted in the traditional sense as more of an accident than the Fritz Fischer view of a deliberate provocation for war). But this is more than made up in coverage of German, Austrian, and Turkish atrocities (though there is some mention of what the Russians did in East Prussia in 1914 and how they treated Jewish populations in general in Eastern Europe). If you're using the series in school classes, coverage of these issues makes excellent starting points for further discussion.
Finally, a note on the packaging.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
this is really a superior series and enjoyable to watch as well as learning relative history.Published 11 months ago by Craig Gilliam
I bought this to replace my VHS tapes. It is probably the best series on the first World War.Published 12 months ago by Amazon Customer
This series helps one understand many of the foreign policy issues the world faces today. Excellent narration.Published 17 months ago by frank mason
We had a problem with the DVD skipping. It was a Christmas gift so it was a disappointmentPublished 19 months ago by Maxine
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