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The Oxford Illustrated History of the First World War: New Edition, by Hew Strachan, editor

Oxford / New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. Pp. xiv, 392. Illus., maps, tables, notes, biblio., index. $45.00. ISBN: 0199663386.

A much revised edition of a classic work on the Great War.

In 1998 Prof. Strachan (All Souls College, Oxford), noted for his insightful writing on the 1914-1919 conflict, edited a well illustrated volume of essays on various aspects of the First World War, its causes, campaigns, and consequences, which reflected the most recent scholarship on the subject.  In this revised edition, virtually every one the two dozen essays includes extensively new material, reflecting more than a decade of new scholarship on the subject, which comes along in time for the centenary of the outbreak of the war. 

Individual essays cover all aspects of the war, including its causes, strategic planning by both the Entente and the Central Powers, particular campaigns, including operations in the air, at sea, and in Africa, economics and economic warfare, women and the war, domestic politics, propaganda, revolutionary upheaval, peacemaking, and more, including memory of the war.  Each essay is by a recognized specialist, so we find Dennis Showalter writing on manoeuvre warfare in 1914-1915, Ulrich Trumpener on Turkey in the war, Strachan himself on economic mobilization, David Trask on America’s road to war, Holger Herwig on Germany’s successful 1917-1918 campaigns, and Tim Travers on the Allied victories in 1918, among others.  While given space limitations, the authors are obviously unable to delve deeply into their subjects, they generally provide a good overview of the principal issues involved and the ways in which events unfolded, using specific examples as necessary. 

Oddly, the volume lacks essays on to the Italian Front, the impact of the war on the European neutrals, and its effects on the Far East, albeit that these are commonly neglected aspects of the war. Despite this, Nevertheless, The Oxford Illustrated History of the First World War is an excellent treatment of the war, providing much new material for the thoughtful reader.

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Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   


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