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The First World War: A Very Short Introduction [#154]
The First World War: A Very Short Introduction [#154]
  • Written by one of the most pre-eminent military historians
  • Each chapter deals in turn with a particular period in the war, from its beginnings to the eventual surrender of the Central Powers and the settlement
  • Succinct and accessible, guiding the reader through the major controversies that still surround the history of the war
  • There is no other short book about World War I on the market written by an author of Michael Howard's stature

By the time the First World War ended in 1918, eight million people had died in what had been perhaps the most apocalyptic episode the world had known. This Very Short Introduction provides a concise and insightful history of the 'Great War', focusing on why it happened, how it was fought, and why it had the consequences it did. 

It examines the state of Europe in 1914 and the outbreak of war; the onset of attrition and crisis; the role of the US; the collapse of Russia; and the weakening and eventual surrender of the Central Powers. Looking at the historical controversies surrounding the causes and conduct of war, Michael Howard also describes how peace was ultimately made, and the potent legacy of resentment left to Germany. 


1: Europe in 1914
2: The Coming of War
3: 1914: The Opening Campaigns
4: 1915: The War Continues
5: 1916: The War of Attrition
6: The United States Enters the War
7: 1917: The Year of Crisis
8: 1918: The Year of Decision
9: The Settlement
Appendix I: President Wilson's Fourteen Points
Appendix II: Total War Casualties
Further Reading

About the author: 

Sir Michael Howard CH is Emeritus Professor of Modern History at both Oxford and Yale Universities. His many books include The Causes of Wars, War in European History, The Lessons of History, The Invention of Peace, The Oxford History of the Twentieth Century (edited with W. R. Louis), War and the Liberal Conscience, The Franco-Prussian War (Duff Cooper Memorial Prize) and Grand Strategy, vol. iv in The UK Official History of the Second World War.

Review from previous edition 
Succinct, comprehensive and beautifully written. Indeed reading it is an experience comparable to scanning the clues of a well-composed crossword puzzle. Every allusion is eventually supplied with an answer, and the finished product defies the puzzler's disbelief that the intricacies can be brought to a convincing conclusion. . . . Michael Howard is the master of the short book - TLS

Howard expertly and succintly summarizes the Great War for the layperson... volume is an excellent way to get a grounding in this momentous subject - Forbes Global 21/03/03

an enlightened idea to produce a very short account of the great war - a page per month - . . . . But if, in 2014, bright schoolchildren, their brains putified by GCSE, get around to asking what the first world war was about, Howard's book will be very valuable. - The Times, Culture

Professor Sir Michael Howard, . . ., is our best living military historian, and perhaps also strategic thinker. His new work is a masterly introduction to the Great War, desgined for those with no previous knowldge of the subject. . . . Any new student who reads Michael Howard should go on to address the first volume of Hew Strachan's huge new work on the same theme. There is great wisdom in both books, and wisdom on this subject is in short supply. - Sunday Telegraph

Product details

ISBN : 9780199205592

Michael Howard
156 Pages
111 x 174 mm
Pub date
Jan 2007
Very Short Introductions
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The First World War: A Very Short Introduction [#154]

The First World War: A Very Short Introduction [#154]

The First World War: A Very Short Introduction [#154]