Review of Holger Herwig’s The First World War: Germany and Austria-Hungary, 1914-1918

I recently read Holger Herwig’s sweeping narrative of the First World War from Germany and Austria-Hungary’s perspective.

451235
Holger Herwig, The First World War: Germany and Austria-Hungary, 1914-1918 (Bloomsbury Academic, 1996), via Goodreads.

This book can only be described as a tome, researched and written over ten years and running to a thousand pages. One is left with a sense of the grim futility of the Central Powers’ cause. A waxing empire bids for power; an ancient one holds on to it in a death-grip. Poor short- and long-range planning leads to fruitless operations and hunger at home. The early date of food shortages shocked me. The slaughter is numbing.

5070-300-dpi-Isonzo-bridge
The Isonzo River, scene of almost all of Austria-Hungary’s battles with Italy. From World War I Today.

The book does suffer from some of the faults of such a vast accumulation of information: weight of statistics, paraphrasing of campaigns, and occasional repetition of facts. These are minor next to the scale of the achievement, however.

My preference is for more micro-level military history – I enjoyed Herwig’s Marne, 1914 a great deal – but this is a solid macro-level analysis of Germany and Austria-Hungary’s war effort in 1914-18. Would that the latter had never occurred.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s