1914-1918: The History of the First World War by David Stevenson

By David Stevenson

In the summertime of 1914 Europe exploded right into a frenzy of mass violence. The battle that had international repercussions, destroying 4 empires and costing hundreds of thousands of lives. Even the effective nations have been scarred for a iteration, and we nonetheless this day stay in the conflict's shadow. during this significant new research, released a few 90 years after the 1st international battle begun, David Stevenson re-examines the reasons, direction and effect of this 'war to finish war', putting it within the context of its period and exposing its underlying dynamics. His publication presents a wide-ranging overseas heritage, drawing on insights from the most recent study. It deals compelling solutions to the most important questions on how this bad fight spread out: questions that stay disturbingly suitable for our personal time

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Enid Lea, to whom he became engaged before his active service and whom he married after it, was less reticent: the war was ‘awful… awful’. My father, Edward Stevenson, who served in the Second World War, awoke my interest in its predecessor by giving me, when I was fourteen, a copy of A. J. P. Taylor’s The First World War: an Illustrated History. Although in what follows I have qualified Taylor’s interpretations, I remain enormously indebted to him, as well as to the landmark (and recently re-released) BBC television history of The Great War.

The Conservative and the National Liberal Parties (which normally the government could rely on) were losing support, mainly because of the rise of the Social Democratic Party (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands or SPD), which in the 1912 elections became the strongest in Germany. Despite its anti-capitalist rhetoric the SPD was mostly law-abiding and unrevolutionary, but its leaders did want greater democracy, as did those of the left-liberal Progressive Party. The Centre Party, representing the one-third of Germany’s population who were Catholics, held the balance, but was pulled between left-and right-wing tendencies.

I have deliberately kept the notes to each chapter limited, but they are intended to acknowledge those obligations that it would be invidious to single out here, and to direct the curious towards further reading. Among the other debts I have incurred are those to the Service historique de l’armée at Vincennes, the Bundesarchiv-Militärarchiv at Freiburg im Breisgau, the Liddle Hart Centre for Military Archives in King’s College London, the Liddell Collection in Leeds University Library, the manuscripts section of Birmingham University Library, Churchill College Archive Centre, the Public Record Office (now renamed The National Archives), and the Imperial War Museum.

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