Short but comprehensive summary of WW1 illustrated throughout (see sample pages). The author, an artist and historian, offers a thoughtful, elegant, and inclusive history of the Great War with well-presented data and illustrations that work together to incorporate the information while conveying the sense of the times. The format is similar to a graphic novel, but as written by a scholar. The title references the famous quote by British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey in 1914: “The lamps are going out all over Europe: we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.”
The book is organized into six parts: an Introduction outlines the forces that led to war and the (major) “players” plus three chapters called “Acts” that describe the war in the air, at sea, and on land. A short summary chapter called “Finis” explains why and how the war ended. The bibliography indicates the amount of research used to assure the accuracy of the illustrations, but an index would have made it easier to locate key points and quotes.
This is the book I would give to a young reader or an adult who interested in learning more about the war. A most impressive effort!
This is not only a good book, it’s an important book. Streckfuss argues convincingly that the least-studied segment of WW1 aviation, aerial reconnaissance, was also the most important. The landplanes, seaplanes, and captive balloons devoted to observation turned artillery into a dominant force on the battlefield by extending its range and accuracy to an extent unimaginable in past wars.
Aerial photography conducted by planes and balloons became the most important intelligence source by far for battlefield commanders at all levels. For the first time in history, commanders did not have to wonder what was over the next hill—weather permitting, they had photographs and photo-based maps, some of which were only hours old.
Despite its critical role, aerial reconnaissance aircraft ended up taking a back seat to the fighters and bombers then and since. The mystique of the fighter pilot is well known, but the offensive “air power” of bombers between the wars eclipsed everything.
This well-researched history belongs on the shelf of anyone with a serious interest in the air war or the ground war of 1914-1918.
Reviewed by Steve Suddaby, past president of WW1HA
Len's Summary: A profusely illustrated then-and-now look at the Western Front then and now; monuments, markers, and cemeteries of all nationalities. The author is Curator for Military History & Archeology for Lancashire Museums. // Examines the Western Front geographically, the scars left by battle and the cemeteries, war memorials and statues erected by the victors.
Len's Summary: Working from primary sources, the author asserts Germany bears the responsibility for starting the war. See also: The Lions of July: Prelude to War, 1914, Wm. Jannen, Random House, 1996.
Ambassador Shurtleff, a retired American Foreign Service officer who served as President of The World War One Historical Association and as a past President of The Western Front Association – U S Branch, passed away on January 22, 2014. This searchable version of Len’s Bookshelf has been created and will be maintained in his honor.