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Outline ReviewMatching nearly 500 photographs, maps, and prints to a thoughtful, interpretive text, renowned military historian John Keegan again turns his attention to "the war to end all wars."
The outbreak of World War I, Keegan notes, caught many Europeans and Americans by surprise. "Europe in the summer of 1914," he writes, "enjoyed a peaceful productivity so dependent on international co-operation that a belief in the impossibility of general war seemed the most conventional of wisdoms." That wisdom was quickly shattered with the onset of hostilities in the Balkans, which soon swept the continent and the world. Keegan takes a large view of events (the massive, multimillion-man offensives along the fronts, for instance) while recalling the agonies (and occasional triumphs) of countless individuals on both sides of the conflict. As he writes, Keegan offers a number of correctives (against other historians, for instance, he asserts that German forces indeed committed atrocities in Belgium), and he catalogs the blunders and disorders that cost each side needlessly and dearly.
No contemporary historian is better equipped than Keegan for his subject, and this book merits a place on the shelf of every student of modern history. -- Gregory McNamee
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