The First World War

by Cyril Falls (Pen & Sword Mil­i­tary, 448 pages, £25)

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - THE GUIDE -

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

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