The Best Books About The First World War

By Adam Zamoyski

The Books I Picked & Why

World War One: A Short History

By Norman Stone

World War One: A Short History

Why this book?

This is undoubtedly the best overview of the war. It really is short and takes the reader on a brisk, witty, and thoroughly enjoyable canter through the events. Yet it is by no means superficial. Thoughtful and insightful, it is the work of a master.


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Towards the Flame: Empire, War and the End of Tsarist Russia

By Dominic Lieven

Towards the Flame: Empire, War and the End of Tsarist Russia

Why this book?

The outbreak of war was hastened, if not actually caused by, the fact that the whole of Central and Eastern Europe was governed by failed states. The Russian, German and Austrian empires had outlived their respective raisons d’être and, either unwilling or incapable of forging new ones through radical reform, hoped to justify their survival through the pursuit of success in the international arena, and ultimately through war. This is a brilliant account of the doomed attempts to reform the greatest yet most fragile of these states, and of the slow car-crash that ensued.


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Dance of the Furies: Europe and the Outbreak of World War I

By Michael Neiberg

Dance of the Furies: Europe and the Outbreak of World War I

Why this book?

This book provides a radically alternative perspective on what this event meant for ordinary people. Using a wide range of letters, diaries, and memoirs, Neiberg reveals that most people had no idea what the war was about and saw no good reason for it, while the soldiers were often confused as to whom they were fighting and which part of the world they were in. It is a short book but an enlightening read.


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The Fortress: The Siege of Przemysl and the Making of Europe's Bloodlands

By Alexander Watson

The Fortress: The Siege of Przemysl and the Making of Europe's Bloodlands

Why this book?

This book not only tells the fascinating story of the great siege in 1914-15 of the supposedly impregnable fortress of Przemyśl. It is a highly readable and often darkly humorous account, based on an extraordinary array of sources in several languages, paints a vivid picture of the political and military shambles into which the Austro-Hungarian Empire had fallen. With chilling precision, it also identifies the presence of many of the germs which would flourish into the horrors which visited the same area in the following decades.


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Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World

By Margaret MacMillan

Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World

Why this book?

The complicated business of tidying up after the defeat of the Central Powers and the attempt to put in place a lasting peace is nowhere better covered than in this book. It performs the far from easy feat of explaining the myriad conflicting interests with a detached understanding, which helps one understand the power of the forces unleashed by the war and just how insoluble were the problems these had created.


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