Review: World War I: The Definitive Visual History, R. G. Grant, 2014.
I knew this would be a pretty book. It’s a DK product after all.
But I was skeptical of the depth of its history. But, after it was recommended by the hardcore students of the war on the Roads to the Great War blog, I took a look.
This is a superb, one volume primer on the war, suitable to both students of the war and those totally ignorant of it. The maps are superb. Important personalities, battles, and campaigns get their own two page spreads. The same is true for important weapons.
You would expect it to contain a “causes for the war” section, but it also covers some of the aftermath of the war up to 1923 as well as the world’s war memorials and museums.
The test I give “big picture” books like this is to pick a few topics at random and see if they are covered.
The Japanese fleet in the Mediterranean? Yes.
The tens of thousands of African porters who died during the war? Yes.
The bizarre German mission to Kabul to talk the Afghans into attacking India? No.
The importance of the German ships Goeben and Breslau in pulling Turkey into the war? Yes.
The specifics of stormtrooper tactics? Yes.
The Livens Large Gallery Flame Projector? No. (A custom built, stationary flamethrower which put flames out to 40 meters. I didn’t know about it until I watched Breathing Fire: Secret Weapon of the Somme.)
There’s no bibliography, but, really, how hard is it to find more World War One material if your appetite is whetted for more?
More reviews of nonfiction works on World War One are on the World War One page.