I include this title with some reluctance, as I contributed some of the text and prepared the book for publication after the death of my friend, Bill Schleihauf. Nevertheless, I think it rates as an important work on the battle. The core of this book is a secret appreciation of the battle, written after the war by a pair of Royal Navy officers and suppressed because of its extreme criticism of Admiral Jellicoe. Despite its suppression, it has been used by a number subsequent historians (including Arthur J. Marder) and so has played an important part in the historiography of the battle. The notes added by Schleihauf and McLaughlin supplement the original text and point out its errors, and a collection of valuable documents is appended.
FULL DISCLOSURE: As noted above, I added some text and prepared the manuscript for publication, so I am not an unbiased reviewer!
A remarkable work of scholarship; Brooks went back to the original reports submitted by the British commanders—Jellicoe, Beatty, and all their subordinates, as well as communications logs, gunnery logs, and other supplemental materials. The result is a detailed examination of the battle that strips away a hundred years of claims and counter-claims and provides a detailed, minute-by-minute account of the battle. Along the way Brooks offers many fresh insights into the actions of the British naval leadership. One warning: This is not a book for casual reading—to extract its full value the reader must pay close attention!
A reassessment of Churchill’s role in the conception, planning and execution of the Dardanelles fiasco, as well as an examination of the subsequent inquiry and the long-standing controversy over the operation. Bell previously wrote Churchill and Sea Power, and is an expert on the great man’s relationship with the Royal Navy. His account draws on a mass of archival material, and provides a more nuanced view of the people and politics that contributed to the decision-making process.
An important collection of 153 documents from the British and German archives, edited and annotated by a pair of recognized experts on the naval history of the era—Seligmann for the British side and Epkenhans for the German. The commentary by the editors is excellent, and the book is produced to the usual high standards of the venerable Navy Records Society.
Hundreds of b&w photos, images of advertisements, and technical drawings appear throughout this outstanding book that examines American motor vehicles used in World War One.
The author researched a wide variety of sources, including the American Truck Historical Society, the Art Archives at the Imperial War Museum, the Society of Automotive Historians, and the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, to name just a few. As the basis for the text, Mroz reprinted portions of prior articles he wrote that appeared in magazines such as American History, Autoweek, Army Motors, Militaria International and others.
Although not as exciting or as popular as tanks and armored cars, a standardized truck to haul supplies and men, and to tow artillery and other items was critical to the war effort. Mroz points out that American industry was able to produce only 9,364 Liberty trucks by the November 1918 Armistice. A July 1917 magazine editorialized that taking so long to design and approve a standard truck for the Army was “shameful.” That lesson would be learned and fixed in the Second World War.
If it is true, as they say, that the victors write the history, then our understanding of World War I and the century that followed is at the very least incomplete. Take, for example, the seemingly basic question of when the war ended. The standard date–November 11, 1918–privileges the experiences of the victors, most notably France, Great Britain and the United States, all of which use it as a time for national holidays based on war memorialization.
At issue is more than simple semantics or the preferences of pedantic historians. … Robert Gerwarth cites German veteran and writer of Storm of Steel Ernst Jünger, who said in 1928, “This war is not the end but the beginning of violence.” Thus, we can understand the “First World War” as not having truly ended until at least 1945 or perhaps even 1991 when the Soviet Union, itself a product of the war, finally collapsed. Even discussing the war in terms of winners and losers misses the point. With the possible exception of the United States and Japan, all states came out of the war far worse off than when they went in—and the people of Europe knew it.
In his epilogue, Gerwarth notes that by the late 1930s only two of the new post-1918 states, Finland and Czechoslovakia, looked anything like the liberal democracies that were once supposed to be the basis of Europe’s future. By 1939 there were, in fact, fewer people living under democracies than had been the case in 1914. Violence and dehumanization (with Jews as a particular target across central and eastern Europe) had become the norm in many of the new regimes. Thus does Gerwarth make clear the need to understand two often forgotten legacies of this period: that the process of ending World War I was just as traumatic as the war itself and that even in total wars, the vanquished still play a critical role.
Abridged from the review by Michael Neiberg published on October 4, 2017 on the Lawfare: National Security and Law website lawfareblog.com
WW1HA member Kermit Mercer has found a unique way to understand the war with his novel about Verdun based on conversations with World War One poilu (French soldiers).
Mercer lived in the Verdun area while serving with the USAF. He got to know many of the veterans when they were in their early 60s and wrote down their stories in the year after he returned home. His notes were not appropriate for a formal history so he turned them into a gripping novel with insights into the hell that was the war’s longest battle.
This is not summer beach reading. The long-forgotten details about life in the Verdun trenches are surprising and enlightening, like the need to always hold utensils over a candle before eating to avoid dysentery, or how seasoned poilu could tell from the location of shell bursts that an inexperienced German artillery team was at work. In many ways, National Flowers is an excellent supplement to the recently translated memoir Poilu by Caporal Louis Barthas. This is a novel for the serious historian.
Reviewed by Steve Suddaby, past president of WW1HA
Soldiers’ Song and Slang of the Great War is an update and enlargement of a book first published in 1931. The current book includes phrases that were deemed inappropriate in earlier editions. The slang is both mystifying and well known. For example, a “goo wallah” is the sanitary man. Other items such as a “flapper’s delight” for a young officer are self-explanatory even now.
The songs lack any musical notations and only the lyrics are printed. Many use melodies set to well-known tunes—those by Gilbert and Sullivan seem to be popular as are folk melodies from the British countryside. The lyrics are commentaries on life at the front, the memories of home, and patriotic themes. By war’s end parodies are widespread. Songs from America and France are included, even “Adieu la Vie” (Chanson of Craonne) which was banned in France until 1974. The English translation is buried in the appendix, but is worth finding. The song is an indictment by the soldiers in the field of their treatment by the French army and government.
The Home Front in the Great War covers the British home front and the Hull area in detail. There is a chronological section at the beginning that provides an overview of events back in “Blighty,” followed by short essays on the efforts by groups from the Royals to the YMCA to support of the war effort. The report on the Boy Scouts is especially laudatory.
Both books use a good variety of images and are entertaining to read. Unfortunately, neither book has an index, making it almost impossible to use them for reference purposes.
Len's Summary: A distillation of Strachan's (pronounced Strawn) of massive three-volume history of the War, which is still in progress. Remarkable for the contemporary color photos (not tints) found in the center section of the US edition. Dr. Strachan is a member of the WFA's annual Norman B. Tomlinson, Jr. book award panel.
Len's Summary: A survey history which breaks no new ground, but rather is a recapitulation of the last 20 years of scholarship. Published in the UK under the title 1914-1918: The History of the First World War, Allen Land, 729 pages, index, illustrations, ISBN 0 713 99208 5, £25 boards from Amazon.co.uk.
Len's Summary: Historiography: scholarly analysis of the multitude of ways WWI has been interpreted by French, American and British historians, literary scholars, film directors and writers over three generations. Winter teaches at Yale and Prost at the University of Paris.
Len's Summary: Continuation and expansion of Hamilton & Herwig's fine study The Origins of World War I (Cambridge, 2003) this time focussing on key individual actors - monarchs, ministers, military men, political leaders - with divergent agendas.
Len's Summary: Contains documents ranging from official papers to personal diaries, as well as articles and book chapters from written by major scholars. Chapters are arranged chronologically and by theme, and address causes, battlefield leadership, strategies and conditions.
Len's Summary: Stan Hanna translator, a nearly complete translation of a seven-volume official history of The Great War published in German 70 years ago. Download at http://www.compoestudios.com/Stanhannah/. Includes notes by the translator and original illustrations.
Len's Summary: A novel by the author of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin about the twilight of the Ottoman Empire in Anatolia before, during and just after WWI. Bermieres presents a series of often quirky first-person accounts by characters in a multi-ethnic village. Interwoven is the biogrpahy of Mustapha Kamal Ataturk, founder of mono-ethnic Turkish Republic. A good read if not exactly good history.
Len's Summary: The fictionalized story of an idealistic young British officer first published in 1919. // First published by Methuen in 1919 and in print virtually ever since, this semi-autobiographical novel follows the career of a young man who left Oxford to enlist later taking a commission and serving at Gallipoli and on the Western Front. This was the first book to freely discuss executions for desertion in the British forces.
Len's Summary: It’s 1918 and nurse Bess Crawford is investigating the murder of a British officer on the Western Front and finds herself becoming a target of the murderer; second novel in the Bess Crawford series. The first Bess Crawford book: A Bitter Truth, a William Morrow reprint, 2012, is also available from Amazon.
Len's Summary: A book about German occupation policy and operations in Lithuania, the Baltics, Ruthenia and parts of Poland from 1915 through 1919 and the Soviet Red Army invasion. Dr. Liulevicius is a frequent speaker at WFA seminars, and professor of History at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
The Centennial commemorations are over, but WW1 remains a relevant area of study because of its enormous impact on the 20th and 21st centuries: Many present-day geographic tensions come from the post-war peace and drawing of boundaries. More families than ever are seeking to understand the war’s impact on their ancestors. The war had a profound impact on all facets of society, including post-war re-building. At the time of this writing, the influenza epidemic of 1918-19 is again newsworthy.
In 2020 we are working to increase engagement and communication with the membership. This will include: regular publication of our Journal, World War One Illustrated, and our newsletter, Here and There; a more regular social media presence; and a refreshed website.