Book Review: And the World Went Dark: An Illustrated Interpretation of the Great War


by Steven N. Patricia

Philadelphia: Casemate, 2016. Pp. 96. Illus., maps, tables, biblio. $25.00. ISBN: 1612003486

An Impressionistic Introduction to the Great War

This is a somewhat idiosyncratic approach to understanding the Great War, by historian and artist Patricia, who has has previously done work for the National Park Service, National Geographic, and Scientific American. The book is not so much a history of the Great War as a well-illustrated overview, intended to give the reader some idea of what the war was like, and is not particularly chronological as thematic, that is, focused on various aspects of the war.

Patricia opens with an introduction summarizing the origins of the war and the events of the Sarajevo summer, with a section on “The Players,” devoted to the principal combatants, with some statistics on their involvement in the war (troops mobilized, casualties, etc.), and quotations from contemporaries to give the reader some idea of how they perceived the events.

Then, rather than starting in 1914 and going through to the war’s end, Patricia gives us a series of chapters that he calls “Acts”. Each “Act” is devoted to particular facet of the war. So “The War in the Air” covers the role of aviation in the war, and is followed by “The War at Sea”, “The War on Land”, and so forth, covering events not only on the fighting fronts but on the home fronts and the diplomatic fronts.

Each “Act” includes a surprising amount of detail, with meticulously drawn sketches of equipment, troops, ships, and incidents, quotations from documents, diaries, newspapers, and so forth. In Act III, “The War on Land”, for example, we get short essays on barbed wire, the various fronts, cavalry, dogs, grenades, dead, horses, and more. The book ends with a brief discussion of the consequences of the war, and a look back at the very real, if mythologized “Christmas Truce” of 1914.

A work primarily for someone unfamiliar with the subject, And the World Went Dark will likely prove interesting reading even for the seasoned student of the war.

Note: And the World Went Dark is also available in pdf, $15.00, pdf, $15.00, ISBN 978-1-6120-0349-8.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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