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The First World War

The First World War Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review July 2013 Title The First World War
Author Geoffrey Jukes, Peter Simkins, Michael Hickey Publisher Osprey Publishing
Published 2013 ISBN 9781782002802
Format 364 pages, hardbound MSRP (USD) $30.00


As the Great War's centennial nears, Osprey has fused four previous "Essential Histories" into one single study: The First World War.

Subtitled "the war to end all wars", the handy, 364-page hardback spans the scope of Great War combat – from the Marne and Tannenberg in 1914 through the Balkans and Palestine to final fighting in France and the Tyrolean Alps – and beyond.

After an introduction with chronology, coverage neatly and geographically cleaves into four chunky chapters:

  • The Western Front 1914-1916
  • The Western Front 1917-1918
  • The Eastern & Balkan Fronts 1914-1918
  • The Mediterranean & Middle Eastern Fronts 1914-1923

Sidebar sections distill political and personal perspectives.  Maps helpfully guide readers through major events.  Period photos tincture text.  And "aftermath" analyses, selected bibliography and index complete contents.

History calls it "World War" for its global scope.  But aside from cursory contextual comments, summaries of African and Asian actions remain conspicuously absent.  Osprey's content clearly concentrates on European land operations – with Middle Eastern subjects somewhat spicing the stew.

So don't expect much on aerial warfare innovations.  And don't seek briefs of naval battles like Jutland.  Two Portuguese infantry divisions merit mention – but Von Spee's Pacific pursuits don't!

Still, Osprey's convenient compendium offers a superb start.  With centennial celebrations approaching, make The First World War your springboard to serious study of this crucial conflict.


My sincere thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review sample!