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About the book
  • Published: 31 August 2011
  • ISBN: 9781407064123
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 512

The First World War




A major work by our greatest military historian, acclaimed as the definitive history of the First World War, the conflict that shaped the twentieth century.

The definitive account of the Great War and a national bestseller from eminent military historian John Keegan
2018 marks the centenary of the First World War – the war that created the modern world. It destroyed a century of relative peace and prosperity and saw a continent at the height of its success descend into slaughter. It unleashed both the demons of the twentieth century - political hatred, military destruction and mass death - and the ideas which continue to shape our world today: modernism in the arts, new approaches to psychology and medicine, and radical ideas about economics and society.

By the end of the war, three great empires – the Austro-Hungarian, the Russian and the Ottoman – had collapsed. But as Keegan expertly shows, the devastation extended over the entirety over Europe and still profoundly informs the politics and culture of the continent today. Pertinent, authoritative and gripping, this panoramic account of WW1 is regarded as a world history classic.

‘The best and most approachable introduction to the war’ Guardian
‘Nobody describes a battle as Keegan does, vividly relating the unfolding events to the contours of the field of combat... This book is a kind of war memorial. As first-hand memory fades, The First World War honours the dead as only true history can’ Sunday Times

  • Pub date: 31 August 2011
  • ISBN: 9781407064123
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 512

About the Author

John Keegan

John Keegan is the Defence Editor of the Daily Telegraph and Britain's foremost military historian. The Reith Lecturer in 1998, he is the author of many bestselling books including The Face of Battle, Six Armies in Normandy, Battle at Sea, The Second World War, A History of Warfare (awarded the Duff Cooper Prize), Warpaths, The Battle for History, The First World War, and most recently, Intelligence in War. For many years John Keegan was the Senior Lecturer in Military History at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, and he has been a Fellow of Princeton University and Delmas Distinguished Professor of History at Vassar. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He received the OBE in the Gulf War honours list, and was knighted in the Millennium honours list in 1999. John Keegan died in August 2012.

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Praise for The First World War

“Magisterial in its scope, beautifully written and literally unputdownable... I cannot recommend Keegan's book too highly.”

Julian Critchley, Scotsman

“Nobody describes a battle as Keegan does, vividly relating the unfolding events to the contours of the field of combat... This book is a kind of war memorial. As first-hand memory fades, The First World War honours the dead as only true history can.”

Niall Ferguson, Sunday Times

“John Keegan's The First World War can take its place alongside the other defining works he has written... The best and most approachable introduction to the war.”

David Horspool, Guardian

“A splendidly readable account of the war on all fronts, from its political and cultural origins to its bloody conclusion... Compelling.”

Max Wilkinson, Financial Times

“Excellent... The First World War tells the story with passion, sanity and the military historian's eye for overall strategy.”

Andrew Roberts, Mail on Sunday

“Beautifully written and full of telling detail... The best overall account for the general reader that has appeared since that of Cyril Falls nearly forty years ago.”

Michael Howard, Times Literary Supplement

“A splendid achievement. Many years of research, distilled with craft and conveyed in meticulous prose, make this the definitive book on the Great War… An enthralling and often very moving account of one of the great tragedies of modern history”

Good Book Guide


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