AR15.Com Archives
 Need a good intro to WWI
LoBrau  [Team Member]
4/26/2010 2:55:25 PM
What's a good book or group of books to learn about the military action that took place in WWI? I know there were two fronts, and trench warfare, and machine guns were introduced and stuff, but I'm severely deficient in the whole chronology and geography of the war. Right now I'm more interested in the tactical and strategic aspects, and not so much the political causes and effects.
Paid Advertisement
--
GSPatton  [Team Member]
4/26/2010 3:01:24 PM
Myth of the Great War

Here's a really good one, without glorifying nationalism that typically accompanies such books.
SD307  [Member]
4/26/2010 3:05:13 PM
The Guns of November is all you need for entry level WWI.

To truly understand the tactics and .mil aspects try

The social History of the Machine gun

Get any of the numerous books on trench warfare in
The Boer War
the US Civil War
or the Spanish American war sepecfically dealing witht he Phillippeanes.

The key is the Eruopeans had used HMGs like a mother against the natives in the colonies but belived thier white boys were immune to the fire poer because they were smarter than savages. This lead to alot of needless bloodshed and shitty tactics.
Polupharmakos  [Member]
4/26/2010 3:31:22 PM
Originally Posted By SD307:
The Guns of November is all you need for entry level WWI.

To truly understand the tactics and .mil aspects try

The social History of the Machine gun

Get any of the numerous books on trench warfare in
The Boer War
the US Civil War
or the Spanish American war sepecfically dealing witht he Phillippeanes.

The key is the Eruopeans had used HMGs like a mother against the natives in the colonies but belived thier white boys were immune to the fire poer because they were smarter than savages. This lead to alot of needless bloodshed and shitty tactics.


I know the book The Guns of August by Tuchman, but have never come across this book. Could you post an ISBN? I'd like to take a look at it.
Ameshawki  [Member]
4/27/2010 10:53:45 AM
The Price of Glory:Verdun 1916, by Alastair Horne

First Day on the Somme, by Martin Middlebrook

Both are a pretty depressing read, but it was a depressing war. Amazon should have both of them.

All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Marie Remarque, while fiction will give you a good handle on conditions and life on the front.
LoBrau  [Team Member]
4/27/2010 11:03:47 AM
I'm looking more for books about what battles took place, when and where, and how each one altered the strategy of either side throughout the course of the war, as opposed to conditions experienced by individual soldiers.

Some of these listed so far look pretty good, I'll have to check them out.
Ameshawki  [Member]
4/27/2010 4:55:06 PM
There are a number of books on the campaigns of WW I, most big box stores or libraries will have some. If you haven't done much reading on the subject before, be advised. WW I history does not have the panache or flair of WW II. It was a long miserable grinding match, at least on the western front. The campaigns of 1915 were not greatly different than the campaigns of 1916 which pretty much repeated themselves in 1917. The German offensive in 1918, with the storm trooper tactics, changed things a bit, but only a bit. Tanks were a factor late in the war, but were not the decisive weapon of later conflicts.

Tuchman's book is a must read. It sets the stage for most of what happened. It's not a battle history per se, but it will give you a basic grounding in the politics of the era and politics dictated strategy. You can't divorce the two.
Dfens  [Member]
5/3/2010 8:10:05 PM
If you find yourself warming to the subject, try Ferguson's Pity Of War. Greatly enjoyed it, as well as Keegan's The First World War.
BozemanMT  [Member]
5/11/2010 2:40:13 PM
Originally Posted By GSPatton:
Myth of the Great War

Here's a really good one, without glorifying nationalism that typically accompanies such books.


+1
fantastic book
and a lot more fact based than some of the "histories"

too much of the English history was written by the English who were BY FAR the worst major power in the war.
sjuhockey10  [Team Member]
5/13/2010 4:42:24 AM
Originally Posted By Dfens:
If you find yourself warming to the subject, try Ferguson's Pity Of War. Greatly enjoyed it, as well as Keegan's The First World War.


That was going to be my suggestion. Good overview of the Great War.
BeNotAfraid  [Team Member]
5/13/2010 10:06:02 PM
as said, Guns of August is a good summary.

Guns of August
SSFeldjager  [Member]
5/14/2010 9:52:22 PM
There is no "one book" that will give you a detailed insight into World War I. Log onto Amazon, Books-A-Million, Dalton Books, etc. and start looking.

See also:
http://wwi.lib.byu.edu/index.php/Main_Page

http://www.fylde.demon.co.uk/welcome.htm

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?
LoBrau  [Team Member]
5/14/2010 11:18:49 PM

Originally Posted By BeNotAfraid:
as said, Guns of August is a good summary.

Guns of August

As it happens, my wife has a copy of this that I wasn't aware of. I'll start by reading that, and move on to the other suggestions. Thanks everybody!
WinstonSmith  [Team Member]
5/18/2010 11:16:58 AM
"The Complete Idiot's Guide to World War One".

Keegan's overview isn't bad either.
RhinelandArms  [Member]
5/18/2010 4:54:56 PM
If you have a little bit of time and money, get over to Belgium and rent a car.

Just drive around one of the main battle field areas and look for a B&B, there are many, dont even bother trying to find one on the net, just go. Try to stay at a smaller one. The one that I stayed at had a hard core WW1 enthusiast who had a massive collection of books and movies you could watch. If the owner thought you were genuine he would take you to the lastest digs and finds and cut you loose. I can not even mention on the forum the neat shit I found.

I learnt more in 2-3 days than I could have reading a entire museum of facts. He told us were there were several tanks that had sunk in the mud and all sorts of neat facts. Also, if you find stuff with copper on it(hint hint) take it in to him and he will take it to the old timers at the local bar who strip it off and such. Its all good fun and they will buy you a beer or two. We were hands on, in the trenchs and fields for 2-3 days, it was amazing.

In Belgium, WW1 is serious stuff and you will find out about the Chrono, the fronts, the specifics, how it was fought underground etc... We have very little to no resources over here compared to what you will find over there.
R0N  [Team Member]
5/18/2010 5:02:22 PM
To add to the list, Winston Grooms, Storm on Flanders is good.
code99  [Team Member]
5/18/2010 6:58:39 PM
I highly recommend A Short History of World War I by James L. Stokesbury as an excellent place to start.

His short histories of WW II and The Korean War are excellent as well.
Brutusfennicus  [Member]
5/21/2010 6:45:41 AM
Martin Gilbert's First World War is an excellent introduction to the general experience of the war.

As to the origins of the war, Guns of August by Barbara Tuchmann and The Origins of the First World War: Great Power Rivalry and German War Aims by H. W. Koch (ed.) come to mind.
Bonk2029  [Team Member]
5/23/2010 9:31:15 AM
Surprised it took so long for Martin Gilbert to get a mention.

Buy this first.

Then

this
Cognomen  [Team Member]
5/23/2010 5:18:24 PM

Originally Posted By sjuhockey10:
Originally Posted By Dfens:
If you find yourself warming to the subject, try Ferguson's Pity Of War. Greatly enjoyed it, as well as Keegan's The First World War.


That was going to be my suggestion. Good overview of the Great War.

My suggestion as well. A lot of these are good recommendations for specific parts of the war, e.g. the lead up, battles, etc. but Keegan has a good, manageable, single volume overview. No major agendas either.

Then, step up to Strachan's stuff.
ByNameRequest  [Team Member]
7/15/2010 9:38:55 PM
OP, hopefully you found some good reading material. Now that you've put together the big picture with the other reading materials.....

Some primary sources and references online at:

World War I document archive
mcornell  [Team Member]
7/15/2010 10:19:35 PM
The teaching company has an course on WWI. It is available in Audio or Video. Go to your library and see if they have it or can Inter Library Loan it. Link to Description While the price is pretty steep, there are always courses on sale. Apparently every course is on sale at least once a year.

Recorded Books has a series called The Modern Scholar which is kind of a smaller version of the Teaching Company. They also have a WWI course. Link to Description

These lectures are great to listen to in the car or while traveling.

They are often available on ebay pretty cheap. If you have a Demonoid account, they are often on that as well.

Hater  [Member]
7/18/2010 6:16:40 PM
About the American involvement:

To Conquer Hell: The Meuse-Argonne, 1918 by Edward Lengel. Despite coming in late, we didn't really learn anything from the other combatants' previous three years of slaughter.
Over There: The United States in the Great War 1917-1918 by Byron Farwell

Africa:

Mimi and Toutou's Big Adventure by Giles Foden. The exploits that inspired the African Queen movie.


Also:

Gallipoli by Alan Morehead
omega62  [Life Member]
8/5/2010 10:05:05 PM
THE FIRST WORLD WAR by Hew Strachan is pretty good as a broad survey overview.
motopic  [Member]
8/29/2010 10:06:52 PM
Infantry Attacks by Erwin Rommel.
First hand accounts by a combat leader, plus lessons learned.
Mclovin5-0  [Member]
9/1/2010 12:37:47 PM
Start with Keegan. His books on WWI and WWII are probably the best single volumes on the wars in print. Read those and then branch out in to areas that interest you. He includes a recommended reading list as well.
flyboy1910  [Team Member]
12/8/2010 8:37:28 PM
In addition to Keegan, "The Price of Glory" by Alistair Horn is a phenomenal and balanced account of Verdun.
Paid Advertisement
--