The First World War
by Cyril Falls (Pen & Sword Military, 448 pages, £25)
With so many new histories of the First World War bei ng written by celebrities or academics who have never seen military service it’s nice to see the reissue of one written by an academic who not only served as an officer in the war but wrote part of the Official History, too.
Not only that, it was written before the trend, that began in the 1960s, of blaming the Generals for everything.
Arranged chronologically, the book covers the conduct of the war on all fronts, including the Home Front and the War at Sea and is, necessarily, written about events at the highest level.
Modern readers might miss the voice of the ordinary soldier throughout the text but there are some excellent pen portraits of the major characters and the political and military difficulties they faced, with some pithy descriptions, the much-neglected German offensive at Arras in 1918 described as “The Germans attacked with sparkling vigour and skill. They were repulsed by a defence at once elastic and resolute.” A worthy addition to the bookshelves about the First World War.
Phil Tomaselli is a military family history expert
Soldiers struggle through the mud of Ypres with heavy artillery