by Jeremy Black
New York: Continuum, 2011. Pp. xv, 337.
Notes, biblio., index. $29.95. ISBN: 0826440932
The able and prolific Prof. Black (Exeter), author of War and the World: Military Power and the Fate of Continents, 1450-2000, The Age of Total War, 1860-1945, and numerous other works, gives us, not so much a history of the 1914-1918 war as a thoughtful review of why it developed in the ways that it did, how different groups have come to – or chosen to – remember it, and how it has shaped everything that followed, down to the present.
Unlike most treatments of the war, Black’s is less focused on the Western Front and the actions of the Great Powers. He tries to look at the war as a whole, and gives appropriate attention to events on the Eastern Front, the Italian Front, in the Balkans, Africa, and the Middle East, even taking a peek at the fighting in some
of its oddest corners, such as the Sudan, Ethiopia, and Central Asia. Black opens with a chapter on “Causes”, which is followed by chapters that survey the events of each year of the war. But it is his three final chapters, “The Struggle Reviewed”, “The Impact of War”, and “The Making of the Modern World”, that are what’s really important, helping to lay out the longer term influence of the war, which can still be seen in events unfolding across the Middle East, for example.
A good book for anyone, scholar or layman, trying to understand the hows and whys of the twentieth century unto the present.