“ Hardcover: 608 pages / Publisher: Profile Books / Published: 4 April 2013 / Language: English „
There are certain aspects of world history that we are duty-bound to teach to each generation. World War I was called 'The Great War' for a reason; it changed the world scene irrevocably and is regarded as the single most important event of the twentieth century. The war introduced dreadful new weapons designed to slaughter as many people as possible with maximum efficiency, sadly resulting in many millions of deaths.
The Great War is a remarkable book, thoroughly covering every aspect of the conflict in painstaking detail. It examines the sweeping political disputes that set the world scene leading up to the war and then zooms in to minutiae of life in the trenches by means of eyewitness accounts from both sides of the battlefield.
What sets this book apart from others of its kind is the fact that Hart takes a completely neutral stance and does not write the account from the bias of any particular nation. Lesser-known skirmishes, events at sea and at the Eastern Front are given equal consideration to the famous battles of Mons, Marne and the Somme. This gives a more balanced overview of the war as a whole and it is refreshing to see a new perspective on these historical events.
The eyewitness reports are moving, harrowing and horrific. One particular account; a letter from a soldier to his wife and newborn baby was particularly difficult to read and shows the devastating effect that the war had on ordinary families. The addition of black and white photographs taken on the battlefield add to the sombre mood of the book and help bring the accounts to life. Hart spares no detail in describing the gruesome, grisly injuries inflicted by the new breed of weapons developed in this time period.
Hart has an excellent way of conveying information in layman's terms without talking down to his audience. His writing style is informative and engaging and easy to understand and the layout easy to follow.
The Great War is not an easy read at 608 pages long, but it is one of those books that perhaps we must read, however difficult. The aftershocks of the conflict still resonate today. The world must never forget the events of 1914-1918, the greatest human tragedy in history. With his thoroughly researched, well-written narrative, Peter Hart has created an appropriate and thought-provoking tribute to those who sacrificed their lives in the Great War.
I previously reviewed this book for www.thebookbag.co.uk and thank the publishers for my copy of the book.