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Old 12-07-2014, 05:13 PM
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Good popular history of World War I?


Not "WW I for Dummies," but a book that covers it pretty well while being accessible to the average reader. Suggestions?
  #2  
Old 12-07-2014, 05:18 PM
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Not WWI itself, but Dreadnaught by Robert K. Massie is an excellent book that describes the circumstances that lead up to it, the arms raise, and personalities that fueled it. Something everyone interested in WWI needs to read, if only because it's crucial to understand the causes.
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Old 12-07-2014, 06:01 PM
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You can always see what is selling at Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/search?ie=U...ds=world+war+i
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Old 12-07-2014, 06:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Guinastasia View Post
Not WWI itself, but Dreadnaught by Robert K. Massie is an excellent book that describes the circumstances that lead up to it, the arms raise, and personalities that fueled it. Something everyone interested in WWI needs to read, if only because it's crucial to understand the causes.
This is a great book, and well worth reading, but you'll need to pick up Massie's next book Castles of Steel to actually find out what happened at sea in World War One.

I'd go with Hew Strachan's The First World War as the best one volume history for general reading. John Keegan's The First World War is also very good as well.
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Old 12-07-2014, 07:05 PM
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I enjoyed A World Undone by G.J. Meyer, but keep in mind that WWI is deeply complex from any perspective. The number of battles, generals, and heads of state involved is mind-boggling.

You might like the recent Hardcore History podcasts on WWI. The WWI podcasts are collectively called Blueprint for Armageddon, and Dan Carlin does his usual excellent job.
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Old 12-07-2014, 07:19 PM
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The BBC documentary series The Great War.
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Old 12-07-2014, 07:37 PM
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I'm reading the Oxford University Press's The First World War: A Very Short Introduction. Well, reading it in between other projects.....

It's quite short & gives an overview of the whole conflict. Which went beyond the trenches on the Western Front. There's a brief reading list at the end.

Good for a real beginner.
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Old 12-07-2014, 07:55 PM
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My recommendation is A Short History of World War I by James Stokesbury. I found that Stokesbury covered all of the significant aspects of the war in a clear and accessible way.
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Old 12-07-2014, 08:00 PM
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. . . You might like the recent Hardcore History podcasts on WWI. The WWI podcasts are collectively called Blueprint for Armageddon, and Dan Carlin does his usual excellent job.
Agreed. I'd also say check out "The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century", which is usually on youtube.
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Old 12-07-2014, 09:37 PM
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The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman is an excellent book on the very first month of the war.
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Old 12-07-2014, 10:50 PM
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Another vote for The World Undone. I came to the book as a newbie on the subject and I couldn't imagine a more well-rounded introduction to the subject.
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Old 12-08-2014, 04:00 AM
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The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman is an excellent book on the very first month of the war.
This!
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Old 12-08-2014, 04:09 AM
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Thirded. Tuchman is immensely readable.
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Old 12-08-2014, 05:30 AM
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The thing about Tuchman, and I admit that World War I scholarship isn't an area I'm all that well read in, is that it's over 50 years old at this point. Surely our understanding of the war has improved and changed since that book was published.
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Old 12-08-2014, 06:25 AM
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The First World War, A Complete History, by Martin Gilbert. Along with his WWII chronicle, it's pretty much just a retelling of events with little commentary, like a textbook. It's pretty simple and dry, but it sounds like what you're looking for.

Last edited by Mince; 12-08-2014 at 06:25 AM.
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Old 12-08-2014, 06:27 AM
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The thing about Tuchman, and I admit that World War I scholarship isn't an area I'm all that well read in, is that it's over 50 years old at this point. Surely our understanding of the war has improved and changed since that book was published.
Mostly, The Guns of August just covers that brief period. I love Paul Fussell's The Great War & Modern Memory because it shows the impact of the Western Front on (mostly) English speaking culture. But it assumes you know the general history. I could keep on listing favorites--but they only describe different bits of the elephant.

Somehow, the reader needs to see the beast whole--if not in detail. Then, one can specialize....
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Old 12-08-2014, 06:43 AM
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The thing about Tuchman, and I admit that World War I scholarship isn't an area I'm all that well read in, is that it's over 50 years old at this point. Surely our understanding of the war has improved and changed since that book was published.
The Sleepwalkers by Clark covers the same topic, is more recent, and is something of a counter-point to Tuchman.

His scholarship is probably better and certainly more up to date, though it isn't as readable as Tuchman. (the two things are probably somewhat related, Clark really digs into what a complicated clusterfuck the pre-war diplomatic situation was, which makes for a more accurate but harder to follow narrative.)

Last edited by Simplicio; 12-08-2014 at 06:45 AM.
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Old 12-08-2014, 07:18 AM
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In Kansas City there's an excellent museum focused solely on WWI: the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial.
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Old 12-08-2014, 08:06 AM
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This YouTube channel is following the war week by week 100 years later.
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Old 12-08-2014, 08:25 AM
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Thanks for all the ideas. My brother and I both enjoy Civil War and WW II books, but we are branching out to the less-popular wars . I've been reading about Korea and staring a WWI thing.
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Old 12-08-2014, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Sefton View Post
I enjoyed A World Undone by G.J. Meyer, but keep in mind that WWI is deeply complex from any perspective. The number of battles, generals, and heads of state involved is mind-boggling.


That's the one that I came in here to suggest.
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Old 12-08-2014, 09:02 AM
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Another vote for Tuchman and Massie.
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Old 12-08-2014, 09:03 AM
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I came in to suggest Hardcore History.

The only caveat on this is after combining all of the podcasts its a 16 hour long audio book...and counting
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Old 12-08-2014, 09:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simplicio View Post
The Sleepwalkers by Clark covers the same topic, is more recent, and is something of a counter-point to Tuchman.

His scholarship is probably better and certainly more up to date, though it isn't as readable as Tuchman. (the two things are probably somewhat related, Clark really digs into what a complicated clusterfuck the pre-war diplomatic situation was, which makes for a more accurate but harder to follow narrative.)
I was amused by Niall Ferguson's bitchy comparison of the two of them - "The most readable account of the origins of the First World War since Barbara Tuchmanís The Guns of August. The difference is that The Sleepwalkers is a lovingly researched work of the highest scholarship."
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Old 12-08-2014, 10:22 AM
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The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman is an excellent book on the very first month of the war.
The only trouble w/ the Guns of August is that, from a narrative perspective, it's a bit of a teaser--it stops just when things are getting really interesting! Which is what led me to...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nonsuch View Post
Another vote for The World Undone. I came to the book as a newbie on the subject and I couldn't imagine a more well-rounded introduction to the subject.
...this one, which I also heartily recommend. It focuses on the two major theatres (Western and Eastern fronts), with a little bit about Gallipoli and Italy here and there; this is basically a decision required to keep the thing manageable, and makes sense--the various other theatres in Africa, the Middle East, Asia were side-shows and had little, if any impact on the war. There are plenty of books on those if you want them.

You may, after finishing this, want to go on to read a book about the sequel (WWII), or get into the treaty negotiations, for which I recommend Paris 1919.
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Old 12-08-2014, 11:45 AM
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http://www.amazon.com/First-World-Tw...irst+World+War

This one is excellent.
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Old 12-08-2014, 06:34 PM
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First World War by John Keegan
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Old 12-08-2014, 09:36 PM
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I would say the second book you ought to read on the topic is Cataclysm: The First World War as Political Tragedy by David Stevenson. Not only does it go through the lead up to war, but answers the question "why did both sides continue it for so long, so pointlessly?".
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