by Saul David
London: Hodden & Straughton / Chicago: Independent Publishers Group, 2014. Pp. vi, 356.
Illus., maps, notes, biblio.. index. $15.95, paper. ISBN: 1444763385
100 Dates that Tell the Story of the Great War
In this somewhat oddly titled work, Prof. David (University of Buckingham), author of a number of works in both history and fiction, gives us a look at the entirety of the Great War in the form of numerous short essays, each devoted to the events of a particular date, which helps illustrate some wider matters. So we get a looks particular battles or incidents, such as the Battle of Mons (August 23, 1914), the tank attack at Flers-Courcelette (September 15, 1916), , the execution of the Romanovs (July 18, 1918, the breaking of the Hindenburg Line (September 27, 1918), and so, most, unfortunately from the British perspective, which slights some important events involving other counties.
Each essay, ranging in length from barely a page to some that run on for six or eight, deals with the event being examined within the context of the war. So, for example, the Battle of Tanga (November 4, 1914) allows Davis to take us through a quick look at the protracted campaign in East Africa, while the account of the disaster at the Chilwell munitions plant (July 1, 1918) segues into a discussion of conditions and hazards in the munitions industry. These essays often include personal accounts, from the obscure as well as the famous, and even has occasional references to the experiences of several of David’s own family members, some of whom did not survive the war. The approach works surprisingly well in providing an overview of the war, and even in helping to penetrate some of its many myths.
Despite David’s very British slant, this is good introductory book on the war, yet will also prove interesting for both seasoned professionals and armchair students.