The First World War created the modern world. A conflict of unparalleled ferocity far beyond its European epicentre, it broke the century of relative peace and prosperity which we associate with the Victorian era. It unleashed both the demons of the twenieth century - pestilence, military destruction and mass death - and the ideas which continue ...
The First World War created the modern world. A conflict of unparalleled ferocity far beyond its European epicentre, it broke the century of relative peace and prosperity which we associate with the Victorian era. It unleashed both the demons of the twenieth century - pestilence, military destruction and mass death - and the ideas which continue to shape our world today - modernism in the arts, new approaches to psychology and medicine, and radical ideas about economics and society. An event of this scale and complexity needs a great historian to portray it, and in his new book, John Keegan fulfils a life-long ambition to write the definitive book on the war. It was of course foremost a fascinating new interpretations of the military events. But the war also acted as a formidable engine for social change throughout the world, and this too is brilliantly conveyed in Keegan's fascinating and magisterial work.
Any book by Keegan, despite harsh criticism from some circles, is superb. He has a style that engages you right from the start despite his upper class....He is British, don't you know..."keep a stiff upper lip" but it just adds to his persona.
Publishers Weekly, 1999-05-17 In a riveting narrative that puts diaries, letters and action reports to good use, British military historian Keegan (The Face of Battle, etc.) delivers a stunningly vivid history of the Great War. He is equally at ease?and equally generous and sympathetic?probing the hearts and minds of lowly soldiers in the trenches or examining the thoughts and motivations of leaders (such as Joffre, Haig and Hindenburg) who directed the maelstrom. In the end, Keegan leaves us with a brilliant, panoramic portrait of an epic struggle that was at once noble and futile, world-shaking and pathetic. The war was unnecessary, Keegan writes, because the train of events that led to it could have been derailed at any time, "had prudence or common goodwill found a voice." And it was tragic, consigning 10 million to their graves, destroying "the benevolent and optimistic culture" of Europe and sowing the seeds of WWII. While Niall Ferguson's The Pity of War (Forecasts, Mar. 8) offers a revisionist, economic interpretation of the causes of WWI, Keegan stands impressively mute before the unanswerable question he poses: "Why did a prosperous continent, at the height of its success as a source and agent of global wealth and power and at one of the peaks of its intellectual and cultural achievement, choose to risk all it had won for itself and all it offered to the world in the lottery of a vicious and local internecine conflict?" Photos not seen by PW. 75,000-copy first printing; simultaneous Random House audio. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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