The World's War by David Olusoga
Published by Head of Zeus on August 1, 2014
Genres: Strategic Studies
Winner of the (UK) Political Book Awards 2015 World War One Book of the Year
This is a very good book. Olusoga rightly demonstrates that World War One was a multi-racial, multi-imperial conflict, waged in Asia and Africa as well as on better known fronts. This point has been largely downplayed by previous historians who inaccurately depict the war as “all white.” Olusoga argues that what made the 1914-1918 conflict a “world” war was that it pulled in men and resources from across the globe. This was primarily due to the fact that most of the major Western combatant countries possessed large overseas empires comprising millions of Asian and African subjects. Even the US—that did not—deployed thousands of its racially-downtrodden African-American population in the war. The harrowing story of the nearly 140,000 Chinese laborers on the Western Front is finally told.
Written as a vigorous narrative that mercifully avoids boring academic locution, Olusoga reveals the story of four million non-European, non-white participants in “the war that will end war.” This book deserves a place in every World War One buff’s library. Its 63 telling illustrations are a treat.
Reviewed by Chandar Sundaram, author of the article on the Indian Expeditionary Force in WWOI #6
The Last Battle: Victory, Defeat, and the End of World War I by Peter Hart
Published by Oxford University Press on March 1, 2018
Genres: Strategic Studies
The author is oral historian at the Imperial War Museum in London and has access to large archives of original testimonies…. describing and enlivening the final battles of 1918.
The author does admit that his “emphasis as a British historian is on the British Army with an appreciative reflection on the massive contributions of victory made by the French, American and Belgian forces.”
Politics and personalities involved in the cease-fire agreements were complex and often cantankerous…. [and left] “an unpleasant taste in the mouth when one considers that men were being maimed and dying in huge numbers with every day that passed.”
Ironically, it didn’t take long before the business of “battlefield tourism” began to flourish…. [while veterans now] “had to fight to retain their self-respect in a society that did not seem to care one iota for their welfare.”
This is a rich and comprehensive book, one I can certainly recommend.
Abridged from review by David F. Beer in RoadstotheGreatWar-ww1.blogspot.com/
Dennis Showalter: “…well-paced analytical text with first-hand accounts by participants.”
New York Journal of Books: “…an exceptional collection of personal narratives….”
America's Sailors in the Great War: Seas, Skies, and Submarines by Lisle A. Rose
Published by University of Missouri on November 29, 2016
Rose presents both the big picture of the U.S. Navy’s role in the war as well as anecdotes of the individual sailors. It’s expansion after the Spanish-American War left the Navy as America’s best-prepared force in 1917… building destroyers, sub chasers, and mine layers to counter the submarine threat… only three troop ships were lost and then on lightly escorted return trips while empty of their human cargoes. An excellent introduction.
Abridged from review by James M. Gallen in RoadstotheGreatWar-ww1.blogspot.com/
The Wilson Deception (Dr. Jamie Fraser & Speed Cook, #2) by David O. Stewart
Published by Kensington on September 29, 2015
Constitutional lawyer David Stewart writes history books about America’s early republic, but his novels touch on other eras. This is a mystery/spy thriller that takes place in Paris during the 1919 Versailles Treaty negotiations.
Dr. Jamie Fraser, middle-aged American Expeditionary Force medical officer, is assessing his troubled family life back in the States as he decompresses from the horrors of war. An old friend appears to engage his help in freeing an African American soldier wrongfully convicted of cowardice. Fraser is in the perfect position to do so as he has just accidentally become doctor to both Wilson and Clemenceau.
Stewart captures character traits and speech, although sometimes he leans toward caricature. Fortunately, Stewart creates a story with enough tension and plot twists to keep the reader engrossed and characters the reader can cheer on. Also refreshing is a protagonist who is not your typical young dashing hero. This book would make a good introduction to the era of the Great War for any fan of historical fiction and political intrigue.
Reviewed by Jolie Velazquez
Rags Hero Dog of WWI: A True Story by Margot Theis Raven, Petra Brown
Published by Sleeping Bear Press on August 2, 2014
Genres: Biographies and Memoirs, Unit Histories
Mascots were some of the most beloved members of military units during World War 1. A statue of the German shepherd who served with the Marines in France is on proud display at the Marine Corps University in Quantico, Virginia.
This book for children is the story of Rags, a mangy stray rescued from the streets in Paris by an American Army enlisted man named James Donovan serving in the 1st Division. Rags served with distinction, delivering messages and endearing himself to the unit. He won citations and was wounded.
Near the end of the war, both Rags and his owner were wounded in a gas attack. Rags was treated at an aid station and then smuggled on board the ship returning his owner to the U.S. for treatment. Private Donovan did not recover. Rags continued to serve in the division until his death in 1936. His long life and contributions are included at the end of story enabling the reader to answer the “What happened after that?“ question. The story is an endearing one and the illustrations well done.
Reviewed by Anne Merritt