Just wondering what people might recommend for reading material on the Great War? I'd like a good general overview of the war, as well as accounts of the fighting on a strategic and tactical level. Massive tomes are good, but perhaps not what I am looking for right now (I have plenty of work-related reading to be done! )
I already have Hew Strachen's The First World War and while it is a very good overall study, I would prefer some more 'stories from the trenches' as it were...in particular the Western Front.
These are some that have caught my eye so far...
Also by Hew Strachen, The Oxford Illustrated History of the First World War David Stevenson's 1914-1918: The History of the First World War John Keegan's The First World War.
I know Keegan is a very respected historial and I've dipped into some of his other works, is this good?
And whilst I know they are very much bite-size histories, I do still like the Osprey books. Can anyone recommend any ones in particular? The First Battle of the Marne looks nice, had a flick through it in Waterstones the other day...
On my list of WW I books Captain J.C. Dunn, The War the infantry knew 1914-1919 would be very much on top. A first hand account by the medical officer of 2nd Battalion, The Royal Welch Fusiliers. Compiled from his diaries and that of other officers.
For an insight into the mountains of paper an officer had to read in WW I the "An officers Manual of the Western Front 1914-1918, compiled by Stephen Bull is great. Not a single Manual but parts of many.
Call to arms, the British army 1914-1918 by Charles Messenger is another top ranking book on my personal list, if you want to learn how the army was formed it is great . It could be called a standard reference for social history of the WW I army too.
Another standard study that I would name is For the sake of eaxample, Capital Court martials 1914-1920 by Thomas Babbington. No light reading. I was shocked to read that the British WW I army had 7 times more executions than the German army. With a smaller force. Nothing I would have expected. A very good book how the army treated the shell shocked in WW I it is too.
And for something away from the Western Front Allenby's war, The palestine-Arabian campaigns 1916-1918 by David L. Bullock is nice reading with many photos.
The above book,The Great War, focuses on the Australian Imperial Force on the Western Front 1916 to 1918. It's probably the best book I have ever read. It covers political, tactical and operational warfare. It details battle plans. Individual Victoria Cross winners. Heaps of maps. You feel like your fighting along with the Anzacs. Best of all it's easy to read. It's not written like a technical manual. At 862 pages, it needs to be an easy read!
An interesting read is When Your Number's Up by Desmond Morton - a statistical analysis - rather grim.
Also, my favourite picks:
The Guns of August by Tuchman - early war analysis The Marne 1914 by Herwig - more early war, and a real look at how close the war came to ending, early! WW1 - The African Front by Paige - very different theatre altogether - probably better wargaming possibilities here, to be honest Barker VC by Ralph - a fantastic biography of the finest airman of the Allied side. Vimy by Berton - no finer book exists on the seminal battle in April 1917. Infantry Attacks by Rommel - yes, that Rommel. Early war, trench war, Italian mountain fighting - this guy did it all. And then became a famous general!
And here are a few photos from my trip to Vimy in April of 2010:
Walking in one of the two cemeteries.
Close up of the Vimy Memorial - and some of the 13000+ names that surround it. Each name remembers a Canadian who simply ceased to exist during the Great War, and no remains were ever found.
A far away shot of the Vimy Memorial. Really massive, and it was a suitably grey and downcast day when we visited the site.
There can be no doubt that the success of the attack on and stand against the enemy at St. Lambert sur Dives can largely be attributed to this officer’s coolness ... London Gazette, no.36812, 27 November 1944
Paul Fussell, The Great War and Modern Memory, 1975. Multi-award winning publication, providing a cultural and literary analysis of the impact of the Great War on modern literature, literary conventions, and so much more, by a serving and decorated veteran of WWII.
"You cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs." - Napoleon