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Book Review: The First World War

By El Volio in Culture
Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 07:00:33 PM EST
Tags: Books (all tags)
Books

The First World War is a military history of the various campaigns that comprised World War One, written from a largely British perspective. This is to be expected, given that the author served as the senior lecturer in military history at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. His analytic perspective lends a classic air to a genre that in modern times seems to focus more on the individual soldier and less on the sweeping themes of a war. The book is both informative and incisive, and should be read by those who have not gained more than a cursory knowledge of the Great War.


The First World War, 1998 by John Keegan
475 pages
ISBN 0375400524
Published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
Rating: 4/5
Book jacket text available

The book is organized chronologically, with some years separated into separate chapters by theater. The reader is thus led to an understanding of the strategic considerations that led to the decisions made, even when the results were tragically unexpected. In fact, Keegan's main thrust seems to be on the futility of the war itself, accomplishing little except wholesale slaughter, as well as on the mysteries accompanying World War One. That is, not how was the war conducted, but why?

The opening year of the war, 1914, is treated with the most depth. Chapters 1-3 cover the preliminaries and the opening stages of the war. Chapter 4 covers the war of movement on the Western Front, one of the few times on that front when static trench warfare was not the rule of the day. Chapter 5 covers the same time period on the Eastern Front. The coverage of 1915 is split between Chapter 6, discussing entrenchment, and Chapter 7, discussing the war in the South and East, various colonies, and Gallipoli. Keegan then runs quickly through 1916 in Chapter 8, where he examines the battles of Jutland, the Somme, Verdun, and Brusilov. Similarly, 1917 is covered rather quickly in Chapter 9 with a review of war weariness, the Russian Revolution, and the US' entry into the war. Chapter 10 ties it all together, describing the (temporary) end of the war.

The style is a bit dry, but then that should be expected from a work of this sort. The First World War is relatively heavy reading, requiring more thought and engagement from the reader than typical popular history. Occasionally, he makes assumptions about the reader's level of knowledge that, in this reviewer's experience, were set a tad high. For example, there is quite a bit of mention made of the Teutonic knights and the tradition that the Prussian army inherited, but many readers will not be as familiar with the Teutons as the author seems to expect. The maps are often inadequate and leave the reader wondering just how to visualize the geographic progression of a campaign, though the maps that are included were laid out nicely. The motivated reader, however, will gain much from the book, and Keegan's organization is quite logical. He has an excellent understanding of the flow of military operations, and the book overall tastes of a treatise on military strategy. Of course, factual notes are well supported, and the bibliography is practically a definitive summary of the best analysis and knowledge regarding the war.

Personally, this reviewer gained much from the book, and it's recommended as a fine overview of the war to anyone who's interested enough in the subject to give it the time and attention it deserves. It may not be an easy read, but the payoff is worth the investment.

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Book Review: The First World War | 36 comments (28 topical, 8 editorial, 0 hidden)
Also (4.66 / 3) (#1)
by wiredog on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 01:34:18 PM EST

"Six Armies in Normandy" is a good one by him. It covers the period in the weeks after the landings there.

"A Distant Mirror" by Tuchman is a good one on the late medieval period (1300's).

"At Dawn We Slept" (about the Pearl Harbor attack) and "Miracle at Midway", both by Gordon W. Prange, are good books on those two battles. Thick books. Lots of stuff in them.

"From Dawn To Decadence" by Barzun is fascinating.

And many others, of course.

More Math! Less Pr0n! K5 For K5ers!
--Rusty

Tuchman on WWI, et al (5.00 / 1) (#2)
by graal on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 01:53:43 PM EST

The Proud Tower
The Guns of August
The Zimmerman Telegram

I'll second your mention of Barzun. For quick-hit stuff, check out Daniel Boorstin's books. I've only read The Creators and The Discoverers, but I know there are a couple of others.

--
For Thou hast commanded, and so it is, that every
inordinate affection should be its own punishment.
-- St. Augustine (Confessions, i)
[ Parent ]

Blah to the Guns of August. (none / 0) (#18)
by TheOnlyCoolTim on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 08:55:54 PM EST

There's a damn war, with shit blowing up, people getting killed, nerve gas, artillery, machine guns, et cetera... And so far The Guns of August is the only book I've read that can take a war and make it ASS BORING.

Tim
"We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death."
[ Parent ]

one of the most disturbing books i've ever read (5.00 / 1) (#7)
by aphrael on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 02:35:38 PM EST

or partially read, since i never finished it, was Goodbye to All That, by Robert Graves (of I, Claudius). It's an autobiography which focuses heavily on his experiences in the trenches in France.

Another disturbing and depressing book about the Great War is fictitious: Nichts Neues im Westen, translated into English as All Quiet on the Western Front.

[ Parent ]

Close (none / 0) (#17)
by hesk on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 08:31:16 PM EST

The correct title is: Im Westen nichts Neues.

Haven't read it yet.

--
Sticking to the rules (red lights etc.) doesn't improve your safety, relyi
[
Parent ]

Aces and Kings (none / 0) (#31)
by cam on Sat Nov 23, 2002 at 12:06:53 AM EST

Also try "Aces and Kings" by Les W. Sutherland. It is a rollicking larrikin ride that is filled with humour and pathos. It covers the Palestinian Front including 'Lawrence of Arabia' and the 'Battle of Armageddon'.

cam
Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

Preview pages at Amazon (4.00 / 2) (#3)
by frankcrist on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 01:53:50 PM EST

Amazon has preview pages* of this book that I found helpful to sample his prose style.  WWI is one of those great and complicated topics that they don't teach much of in grammar school and for good reason.  Thanks for the review... I'll definitely check it out.

* I have no allegiance to Amazon, so don't say it; link may or may not work (contains session info).

--x--x--x--x--x--
Get your war on!

Amazon (4.33 / 3) (#4)
by El Volio on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 02:02:54 PM EST

I thought about posting a link to Amazon's page for this book, but figured it was best to let people those who are interested enough to seek it out from there or any other place they like (BN, etc.)

Personally, I buy a lot with Amazon, but I got this book from my local library, and I'd like to see more people support theirs. Libraries are particularly good for subjects like this; I mostly use Amazon for reference or technical books.

[ Parent ]

August 1914 (4.33 / 3) (#10)
by Meatbomb on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 02:55:59 PM EST

By Solzhenitsyn, is a gripping yarn about the initial Russian invasion of Eastern Prussia.

A real page turner, I highly recommend it.

_______________

Good News for Liberal Democracy!

see my review (none / 0) (#20)
by danny on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 10:36:45 PM EST

My brief review of August 1914 may be of interest.

Danny.
[900 book reviews and other stuff]
[ Parent ]

After reading "The Face of Battle", (4.50 / 4) (#11)
by AmberEyes on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 03:06:47 PM EST

and asking myself why I was reading about 30 pages of him discussing how many pounds of bullets hit a certain area of dirt, I am refusing to read anything by John Keegan, ever again.

-AmberEyes


"But you [AmberEyes] have never admitted defeat your entire life, so why should you start now. It seems the only perfect human being since Jesus Christ himself is in our presence." -my Uncle Dean
It's a test, you see. (4.00 / 2) (#12)
by Alarmist on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 03:31:47 PM EST

The Face of Battle is actually pretty interesting once you get past the bullets/dirt ratio stuff. Skip to the bit about Agincourt and you'll have a better time of it.

Admittedly, Keegan writes in a style that just isn't appreciated by most people any longer, myself included. Still, he has a few good points to make about why men stand and fight when they know they're going to die.

[ Parent ]

Minute Battles of Defying Detail (4.00 / 1) (#19)
by cam on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 09:53:27 PM EST

The maps are often inadequate and leave the reader wondering just how to visualize the geographic progression of a campaign, though the maps that are included were laid out nicely.

I think this is a failing of most of these detailed all in one history books on World War I. Since popular history records that most of the fighting took place in France it all gets condensed into one overly detailed book that focuses heavily on localities and brigade level movements.

Most of these First World War books also focus heavily on the movement of men and the huge number of casualties each offensive produced. In my opinion the two fulcrums of the war on the western front was the French Armies defense of Paris between 1916-1918 and the Royal Navies blockade of the Baltic. The first meant that German would lose if the frontline became a stalemate, the latter meant Germanies ability to support it's war industries and population would be compromised. Those big book formats dont impart that well.

If this is the book I am thinking of, it had a tidbit of information that I was unaware of, the Irish Battalions fighting on the south west of Bourlon Wood during the Battle of Cambrai on November 23rd watched as an Australian aircraft continually dive and attack a machine gun strongpoint. Unfortunately the strong point won and the pilot was shot down and killed. The Royal Irish Fusiliers who were attacking the same strongpoint appreciated the pilots attempts and put a note in the Times to;

"To an unknown airmen, shot down on November 23rd, 1917, whilst attacking a German strongpoint south west of Bourlon Wood, in an effort to help out a company of Royal Irish Fusiliers when other help had failed."

I was unaware the Fusiliers published their gratitude. The pilot was Alexander Griggs from the Australian Flying Corps who had been born in Meridan, Missippi, USA.

The Australian Imperial Force was completely made up of volunteers, there was no conscription in Australia. The attestation papers for volunteers had a checkbox asking if you were "a subject of the King". Ticking no was not a barrier to enlistment. Subsequently the AIF as made up of Australians, New Zealanders, Englishmen, Irishmen, Scotsmen, Canadians, Americans, Russians, Danes, Singaporeans , etc Part of the reason the AIF is a such an interesting subject of study.

I end up reading all the large WWI books whether text or photo. There is usually at least one gem of an insight or a previously unpublished or non-museum held photo. It is also easy to get caught up in the details, with WWI now, the recorded paper trails and details are all that is left to make sense of what actually went on. There are few left of that generation that fought. There are also several myths that have perpetuated or been generated in the last 80 years or so as well. The details are about all there is left to pop those persistent myths.

Thanks for publishing the book review.

cam
Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic

I read the book (none / 0) (#21)
by calimehtar on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 11:02:48 PM EST

And I enjoyed it immensely. It's definitely a history book fit for public consuption -- Keegan chooses a human perspective for most events he describes which makes it much more vivid and engaging than if he had taken the birds-eye-view common in history books.

I haven't read that book yet, (none / 0) (#22)
by Kal on Thu Nov 21, 2002 at 11:23:53 PM EST

But I'd recommend any book by Keegan.  I've got several of his that I enjoy immensly.

World Crisis (4.50 / 2) (#23)
by merkri on Fri Nov 22, 2002 at 02:05:46 AM EST

Just a pitch from a Churchill fan for one of his overlooked books.

I'm a big fan of Winston Churchill as a historian and author. It was Keegan's First World War that actually introduced me to Churchill, in a way. I was going to purchase Keegan's text, decided I didn't have the money at the time, and instead went to my university's library to locate another text on WWI. I came across Churchill's text on WWI, read that instead, and have been hooked on Churchill ever since.

Churchill is well known for his work on the second world war, appropriately titled The Second World War. However, he wrote numerous histories, one of which is a book comparable in size to The Second World War on WWI, called World Crisis. Churchill actually conceived of WWI and WWII as one long war or conflict, and thought of World Crisis, some intermediate texts (if I recall correctly), and The Second World War as one long historical treatise on this conflict.

Unfortunately, for some reason, while Churchill's work on WWII continues to be in print and is widely read, his comparable work on WWI seems to have been forgotten. It's puzzling to me, and I've written the publishers suggesting that they consider republishing the text. For now, you can only find it in used book stores--a fact that's increased my awareness, understanding, and concern about the process by which great works become lost in time.

World Crisis is an amazing text. Like The Second World War, it's written as a historical memoir, a telling of history by someone involved in it. Churchill held various high-level government and political positions during WWI, and so he is able to convey the history of WWI and his own memoirs at the same time. There are two versions of the text, a multivolume set, and an abridged version. I actually think there are two abridged versions, a single volume version and a two-volume version, but I'd have to look back into it a bit more.

Anway, it's just a thought. Keegan is a great historian, but if you're interested in another great history of WWI, I recommend Churchill's text.

Thanks (none / 0) (#25)
by El Volio on Fri Nov 22, 2002 at 08:39:59 AM EST

That's been next on my list for a while, especially since he's one of the few to adequately cover the period from the end of WWI to the rise of Hitler (that is, pre-Nazi). That's quite a daunting reading project, though.

[ Parent ]
churchill (none / 0) (#32)
by turmeric on Sat Nov 23, 2002 at 12:56:06 PM EST

while gandhi was trucking around in an ambulance service during the boer war, churchill was voyeuristically writing about it.

later on, churchill called gandhi a 'naked fakir' so i wonder what sort of history he lays out exactly? god bless the british empire i suppose?

[ Parent ]

Churchill (none / 0) (#35)
by Maclir on Mon Nov 25, 2002 at 01:36:49 PM EST

And don't forget his "History of the English Speaking People".

[ Parent ]
The Washing Of The Spears (4.00 / 1) (#24)
by wiredog on Fri Nov 22, 2002 at 08:21:42 AM EST

The only book that I've seen about the Zulu War. Covers Isandhlwana (where a British force of a couple thousand got exterminated) and Rorke's Drift, where a couple hundred Brits stood off a couple thousand Zulus. Plus Ulundi, where the Zulus lost the war.

More Math! Less Pr0n! K5 For K5ers!
--Rusty

I've seen a few others (none / 0) (#26)
by Kal on Fri Nov 22, 2002 at 02:33:54 PM EST

But Washing of the Spears is by far the best of them.

[ Parent ]
And now for a veiw from the Colonials... (none / 0) (#27)
by AZhun on Fri Nov 22, 2002 at 07:36:21 PM EST

A while back I decided to pick up a book on WWI and ran across a then recent work that I would propose to be added to any selection of books on this topic as an second viewpoint.

This work made more sense about the Great War than previous pieces I had read in youthful study a few decades past.

_Myth_of_the_Great_War_ by John Mosier. ISBN 1 86197 395 0 July 2002.

The author presents several refreshing points. First of which is portraying the Imperial German Army's look at the 'firepower' concept (which was made vogue in U.S. forces since Korea and 'Nam and) which explains that army's ability to wreck such havoc on the battlefield over the BEF and French Army.

There is a Yank myth that it took the relatively tiny AEF to tilt the scale for the allies, which is usually not well explained except that it was comprised of fresh troops.

Just how much influence and bearing did General Pershing have with French and British commands is also not objectively explained.

Some of these questions were touched in _Myth_ in a way that made new sense: General Pershing's date of rank was prior to all other Allied generals in France and unlike French or British generals his civilian governmental boss (Wilson) backed him.

Why a rift in Anglo-American officer ranks: so this upstart shows up and after checking the lay of things soon fails to fall into its junior place! From the British end the AEF was about what the Dominion of Canada produced in manpower. This rift is later added to cause by some as to why there were no mutual defense arrangements for Singapore and Manila between the two navys verses Imperial Japan. (Other factors, too)

Personnaly, _Myth_ carried forth on a coffehouse thesis that some of us in the mid '70s that the U.S. was really _the_ military industrial power since about the third year of the Civil War only it didn't know it. (Another debate topic)

_Myth_ does not go into all aspects or campaigns of the Great War, which is why I will now look into Keegan's _The_First_World-War_.

Role of the AEF (4.00 / 2) (#28)
by El Volio on Fri Nov 22, 2002 at 11:23:49 PM EST

My understanding is that the AEF was more important for what it represented than what it was. The arrival of a few thousand American soldiers portended the potential arrival of millions more, and the German officer corps realized that they would be destroyed under the weight of such an onslaught. Better to force an early end to the war than to risk destruction of their homeland -- a lesson that the next generation did not take to heart.

But I'd be interested in seeing Mosier's take on it as well.

[ Parent ]

72 million (4.00 / 1) (#30)
by cam on Sat Nov 23, 2002 at 12:03:07 AM EST

My understanding is that the AEF was more important for what it represented than what it was.

Mainly to the allies, though to the average German soldier is was probably a bummer as well. I recall in a reference there was a letter by an English nurse who saw some very tall men marching to the front in late 1918. She thought because they were so tall they might be Australian or Canadian (mutton and beef diets made the average Australian taller than the average Englishmen or Frenchmen). When they came close she realised they were Americans from their uniforms and accents and she rejoiced.

In late 1918, Australia, Canada, Britain and France were close to exhaustion in manpower. Australia certainly was, they had disbanded a division to keep the others up to strength. That 72 million Americans were interested in joining in would be a great boost to the allies.

I still dont think the Western Front or American infantry had much of an impact on Germanies surrender. The German sailors rioted not because America had 72 million ready to join the fray, but because they were hungry and hadnt been paid.

One of the oddities though, I went through several local Australian newspapers from 1914-1919 and several US newspapers from 1914-1919. The Australian newspapers had more pages in them than the US papers despite the US papers serving a greater population. This makes me think that there was paper shortages in the US before the US formally joined on the allied cause. it also makes me think that domestically Australia was more isolated from the war the then neutral US.

Newspapers from the period are fascinating.

cam
Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

Myths (5.00 / 2) (#29)
by cam on Fri Nov 22, 2002 at 11:51:25 PM EST

First of which is portraying the Imperial German Army's look at the 'firepower' concept

You will find that the Canadian, New Zealand and Australian forces had the same name for trench raids that the German army did. When the AIF came to the Western Front in 1916 they were trained in trench raiding by the Canadians as they were the noted experts of the time. Australian forces in later years were restricted in their manpower by the failure of several referendums for conscription. The AIF forces made up for this by giving platoons greater firepower in terms of machine guns. The AIF forces were often used as shock troops in the same manner German forces were deployed.

There is a Yank myth that it took the relatively tiny AEF to tilt the scale for the allies, which is usually not well explained except that it was comprised of fresh troops.

It is also at odds with the Battle of Marne in 1918 being the offensive that determined that Germany would never reach Paris. It is also at odds with the Royal Navies blockade throttling German industry from early 1917 onwards.

The aviation industry was the high tech of the day and in late 1916 the British and French aviation industries were producing 200 hp inlines while the German aviation industry through a lack of high octane fuels and lubricants was only producing 160hp engines. At the end of the war the standard entente engine was producing upwards of 400 hp with the Italians producing horsepower of 700 hp. Germans engines of 1918 were capable of producing 185 hp.

The movement of American army troops in July of 1918 made only added to the inevitability of the wars end. Thet didnt cause it. The German war machine had lost from September 1916 onwards. Churchill has the argumen that America's entry to the war extended the war as Germany increased their military units in September 1917 to meet the expected increase of numbers and munitions of US forces. For instance the Palestinian 'Pascha' aviation force increased by 400% under the 'Amerika Program'.

I dont believe however that America's entry to the war in in late 1917 made any difference to the outcome of WWI. In my opinion the French Army and British Navy won WWI. WWI is a different anmal to WWII and often the American contribution is told in terms of the American contribution to WWII where the US contribution was the deciding contribution.

Churchill believed and wrote that the 'Amerika' program and America's entry into the war extended it, I dont agree with him. I think Germanies collapse from the blockade was inevitable and increased armament in September 1917 made little difference. As above German industry was hampered technically from September 1916 onwards.

I do not however want to denigrate the lives of any American how served or lost their lives on foreign shores in WWI. It is a greater sacrifice than I have ever been faced with.

It should be added though that by wars end the AEF had 3.5 million men in Western Europe. In comparison though the British forces mobilised nearly 7 million men. The French had way more than that, closer to 20 million IIRC.

Just how much influence and bearing did General Pershing have with French and British commands is also not objectively explained.

Bugger all, the biggest gain Pershing made was the same as the Canadians and Australians had made earlier in the war, that was not to be split up and deployed piecemeal in the British or French forces.

unlike French or British generals his civilian governmental boss (Wilson) backed him.

Monash and Chauvel were two very skilled Australian Generals that were fully backed by the Australian Government. More so than Blamey got in WWII from Menzies or Rowell on Kokoda got from Curtin. Pershing was obviously a skilled logistician and commander though.

This rift is later added to cause by some as to why there were no mutual defense arrangements for Singapore and Manila between the two navys verses Imperial Japan. (Other factors, too)

There was the ABDA command at the time of Singapores fall. This was the Australian British Dutch American naval command. All the naval assests in the South Pacific at the time fell under it and as Java was the main focus of defence by that time most of the local(remaining) naval assets were commanded by Dutch Admirals. When the USS Houston and HMAS Perth were sunk in the Java Straits during a valiant battle this is while both were part of the ABDA force.

What most people dont recognize is that 8th December Malayan time is 7th December Hawaii time. The Japanese attacked Malaya at the same time as Pearl Harbour leading to their successes through South-East Asia and the South Pacific until the USMC was able to stop them at Guadalcanal and the Australian Army at Port Moresby.

MacArthur was the cause of most rifts in the Pacific front in WWII. nOt only between the Australians and Americans but also between the New Zealanders and Americans. MacArthurs vanity didnt only extend to foreigners, is include the USN and USMC. Ask a Marine Corps bloke what they think of 'Dugout Doug', it will be same as what the Australian Army think of him. Basically that he is a wanker.

Unsurprisingly it was the USMC and the Australian Army which did the bulk of the fighting in the South Pacific. It should be noted however that until June of 1942 all the allies in the South Pacific were on the backstep. So if there was disarray it was theatre wide. It took Midway, Coral Sea, Milne Bay, Kokoda and Guadalcanal to solidify the allies position in the South Pacific.

cam
Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

Pershing (5.00 / 1) (#33)
by gsl on Sun Nov 24, 2002 at 06:31:19 PM EST

The AIF forces made up for this by giving platoons greater firepower in terms of machine guns.

I'm glad someone else has found Ross Mallet's thesis. His online stuff is a wonderful resource to have at your fingertips.

Bugger all, the biggest gain Pershing made was the same as the Canadians and Australians had made earlier in the war, that was not to be split up and deployed piecemeal in the British or French forces.

Early on there were American regiments attached to British and Australian Corps. It didn't last for long though.

Pershing was obviously a skilled logistician and commander though.

I've read a number of less complementary takes on Pershing's performance. In particular that, despite being US liason to the Entente for a number of years prior to American troops arriving, when they did arrive and he took command he stuck to the same out-dated tactics of assaulting with massed infantry that had been exhaustively and expensively disproven by the British & French. You would have hoped that the American troops wouldn't have to go through the same learning process.

The Americans managed to amass 75,000 dead from 30-odd divisions in their relatively brief involvement (albeit at a time of almost continuous fighting) whereas the Australians suffered 58,000 dead from 8 or so divisions in nearly 3 years of fighting (albeit in two theatres).

And apparently Pershing was just as inclined as Haig to censor the official history in his favour.

Geoff.
--
NP: Porcupine Tree - In Absentia [Prodigal]



[ Parent ]
Blooding (4.00 / 1) (#34)
by cam on Sun Nov 24, 2002 at 07:38:27 PM EST

Early on there were American regiments attached to British and Australian Corps. It didn't last for long though.

That was consistent though with all new forces on the Western Front. Until they were experienced they were slotted in with more experienced units.

cam
Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

Interesting comment... (none / 0) (#36)
by duffbeer703 on Sat Nov 30, 2002 at 01:32:26 AM EST

"Personnaly, _Myth_ carried forth on a coffehouse thesis that some of us in the mid '70s that the U.S. was really _the_ military industrial power since about the third year of the Civil War only it didn't know it. (Another debate topic)"

That point sounds like a misterpetation to me and I'd like to clarify it.

The US Civil War was the first modern war. Not just because mass-production and rifles made war deadlier, but because the goals of war changed.

No longer did the fighting stop in the field of battle. In order to win, the Union armies ravaged the economy and the infrastructure of the south. Farms were burned, railroads destroyed, cities razed.

The American armies learned at Shiloh, Vicksburg, Gettysburg and the Wilderness that attrittion was no longer a way to win. The military draft and mass production of arms (even in the agricultural south) made wiping out an army less signifigant than in Napoleon's time. Dramatic, "decisive" victories were decisive no longer.

Unfortunately, European powers (and the American military establishment) failed to learn the lessons of the US Civil War. Millions of men died running into artillery and machine gun fire because their generals were using outmoded Napoleonic tactics to fight a modern conflict.

The Germans figured out how to win on the battlefield in 1918, but it was too late. "Shock" Divisions consisting of individual squads equipped with light machine guns (WWI armies assigned machine guns at the company or battalion level) used hit and fade tactics to isolate opposition and penetrate the lines.

In end, the Allies defeated the Germans because the German people were starving to death and revolted against the Kaiser's government. The showing of British and French arms on the field of battle was pathetic and the American contribution nearly irrelevant.

[ Parent ]

Book Review: The First World War | 36 comments (28 topical, 8 editorial, 0 hidden)
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