WW1 Books

Just starting reading this one but seems really good so far. Called 1914-1918 The history of the first world war. By David Stevenson. Has anyone else read this one by chance.

Never read that, a good but heavy tome is dreadnought and it deals with the reasons for the enmity between the British Empire and The German Empire in the 100 years leading up to the war. It ends just as the war begins and so there is no action so to speak, but it is interesting nonetheless.

Forgotten Victory by Gary Sheffield is rather good (if not quite a conventional history - more a book that sets out to slaughter rather a lot of overaged sacred cows). Mud, Blood and Poppycock is supposedly also rather good and covers the same territory, although I have seen mixed opinions on quite how accurate it all is.

That sounds like my kind of book. Did you have to pick this up at your library.

Which one is? Dreadnought is by Robert K Massie and is a fairly standard tome, so I’d guess quite a lot of libraries will have a copy. Forgotten Victory by Gary Sheffield is less well known, so US libraries probably won’t have a copy (it’s notable that he doesn’t have a great deal of time for Pershing, accusing him of believing into 1918 in tactics that the other powers had abandoned by 1915 or so). They’re both available on Amazon for $15 or so though.

Oh, and I’ve just got my paws on “Through German Eyes - the British and the Somme 1916” by Christopher Duffy. I’ll let you know what that’s like once I’ve finished it.

The Forgotten Victory.

Finished it. Not bad, but definately one to get from a library rather than buying. The interesting bit is how it describes the tactical progression of the British armies on the Somme, and particularly their technical progression. It is interesting to see the birth of co-operation between infantry, artillery and air power, and how the British applied it to their attacks.
The other really interesting thing to see is the very lack of reaction by the Germans to this revolution in warfare. The British and French were starting to substitute machines for men, while the German response seems to be limited to digging deeper.

Overall, the book leaves you with a much better impression of the British performance on the Somme than you would get from most recieved wisdom.

Monash-The Outsider Who Won A War by Roland Perry is an excellent book on the best Allied general of the war.

Regards Digger.

I presume you speak of Allenby? Byng was pretty good also.

No, Sir John Monash.

Regards digger.

A wizard from Oz?

Not a wizard by any means. He planned his operations in great detail, used new technology intelligently and had a far better understanding of war than most British generals.

Regards digger.

Interesting chap. He appears to excell during the battles of 1918, when the war became more fluid.

I think most generals of any quality were frustrated by trench warfare, and were unabe to find a solution until such time as the improvement in the technology of artillery enabled infantry to advance behind a creeping barrage. Some, such as Byng, were thoughtful in the way they conserved their men. Others had no idea, and simply through there mens’ lives away in response to political pressure.

“…the true role of infantry was not to expend itself upon heroic physical effort, not to wither away under merciless machine-gun fire, not to impale itself on hostile bayonets, but on the contrary, to advance under the maximum possible protection of the maximum possible array of mechanical resources, in the form of guns, machine-guns, tanks, mortars and aeroplanes; to advance with as little impediment as possible; to be relieved as far as possible of the obligation to fight their way forward.”
General Sir John Monash

A man to dmire.


I have just read “The Guns Of August” and I think this is an absolutely wonderful book. I suggest it to all. What is most surprising is that it is written by a woman when women (especially in 1962) were not known for understanding of warfare. She is a great writer and military historian. Let me know if you have read it. Honestly one of the best books ive ever read.

More info:


Read it maybe ten, fifteen years ago.

Very informative, lots of detail, but written in a very readable style.

I still have to say that, although I understand the steps leading to WWI, it’s still mystifying how they got from shooting Archduke Ferdinand to what became WWI. It’s like pulling the pin on a grenade and ending up with an A bomb going off. Tuchman explains it as well as anybody could.

Guns of August. Absolutely superb. Shows kitchener in a different light. A permanent resident on my bookshelf.

‘A Long Long Way’ a novel by Sebastian Barry.

William - named after King William of Orange - born in Dublin to Roman Catholic parents, volunteers for the British Army and is posted to the trenches. Home on leave, gets caught up in the Irish Revolution.

This is grass-roots experience, including th German gas attacks - excellent read, one can taste the gas!

Some nice personal accounts that I read years ago:

Good-Bye to All That
by Robert Graves

All Quiet on the Western Front
by Erich Maria Remarque

Both excellent books and vey much a part of the GCE Advanced level curriculum here.

Another very excellent book by Barabara W Tuchman, is The Proud Tower
(“While from a proud tower in the town,
Death looks gigantically down!”
‘The City In the Sea’ Edgar Allan Poe.)

A portrait of the world before the war …1890 - 1914.

This ought to be read together with The Guns of August, if not before it, it gives the reader an excellent insight into the causes of WW1.

I think she might equally appositely have quoted the last few lines of the poem, e.g. A redder Glow, or, Hell, Rising, rather than the piece she selected mid-way through.

While from a proud tower in the town
Death looks gigantically down.

There open fanes and gaping graves
Yawn level with the luminous waves;
But not the riches there that lie
In each idol’s diamond eye-
Not the gaily-jewelled dead
Tempt the waters from their bed;
For no ripples curl, alas!
Along that wilderness of glass-
No swellings tell that winds may be
Upon some far-off happier sea-
No heavings hint that winds have been
On seas less hideously serene.

But lo, a stir is in the air!
The wave- there is a movement there!
As if the towers had thrust aside,
In slightly sinking, the dull tide-
As if their tops had feebly given
A void within the filmy Heaven.
The waves have now a redder glow-
The hours are breathing faint and low-
And when, amid no earthly moans,
Down, down that town shall settle hence,
Hell, rising from a thousand thrones,
Shall do it reverence.