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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 First World War 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: mdoernism in the arts, new approaches to psychology and medecine, and radical ideas about economics and society.

John Keegan's definitive account unforgettably portrays the unfolding military conflict on land, sea and in the air. But at its heart, too, is the terrible cost of this conflict's ferocity - the loss which remains personal and individual despite its unparalleled scale.


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

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Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback


    January 15, 2014

    Bodley Head

    512 pages

    RRP $45.00

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
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    • Robinsons Bookshop

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    August 31, 2011

    Vintage Digital

    512 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
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    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Also by John Keegan

The Price Of Admiralty
The Face Of Battle
The American Civil War
Intelligence In War
A History Of Warfare
Six Armies In Normandy
Battle At Sea
The Iraq War
First World War
The Mask of Command
War And Our World
The Second World War
The Battle For History


Victory at Villers-Bretonneux
Stealth Raiders
The Story of the Jews
Hero or Deserter?
The Square and the Tower: Networks, Hierarchies and the Struggle for Global Power
The Art of War: Popular Penguins
The Better Angels Of Our Nature
A Broken World
The Great War
Elsie and Mairi Go to War
Wilful Murder: The Sinking Of The Lusitania
24 Hours at the Somme
The Second World War
1914: Fight the Good Fight
Hidden History