by John Keegan
New York: Vintage/Random House, 2000. Pp. xvi, 475.
. Illus, maps, notes, biblio., index. $16.00 paper. ISBN:0-375-70045-5
The paperback edition of Keegan’s 1998 best seller, The First World War is a solid introduction to the events of 1914-1918, set within their diplomatic, political, and social framework, as well as with appropriate attention to military and technological matters, not to mention a number of excellent word-portraits of some of the notables of the day and a surprising amount of material from the common soldiers’ perspective.
Granted, some specialists will undoubtedly quibble about various matters. For example, Keegan has certainly not done his homework about the scale of the Anglo-French contribution to the Italian victories in 1918, and he perhaps passes over the American role a mite too quickly. However it’s a big story, and one not easily confined within the covers a single volume.
There’s quite a lot here which should not be missed, including a very insightful exploration of the political and diplomatic events that ensued between the assassination of Franz Ferdinand and the actual outbreak of the war.