Best Books on World War I

Published: 3 April 2024

via the Five Books web site

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We have a number of interviews focused on World War I and many more in which particular books on the war are recommended.

Covering the state of Europe in the lead up to the World War I, Ruth Harris recommends her best books on Dreyfus and the Belle Époque. Jonathan Boff recommends his best books on World War I. Turning to specific books, the military historian Hew Strachan recommends L’Or et le Sang: Les buts de guerre économiques de la Premiere Guerre mondiale by Georges-Henri Soutou as one of his top books on military history, looking at the economic objectives of World War One’s protagonists.

Nexus: Strategic Communications and American Security in World War I by Jonathan Reed Winkler looks at the strategic importance of cables and communications technology during World War One. Our editor-in-chief, Sophie Roell, recommends Haig’s Enemy: Crown Prince Rupprecht and Germany’s war on the Western Front by Jonathan Boff as a good take on the German view of the war. David Marquand recommends Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 by Alistair Horne as great account of the most destructive battle ever fought in Western Europe.

On the consequences of the World War I, John Lewis Gaddis recommends The Wilsonian Moment: Self-determination and the International Origins of anti-Colonial Nationalism by Erez Manela, which looks at how President Wilson’s 14 points and his doctrine of national self-determination played out in Egypt, India, China and Korea. Our Foreign Affairs by Paul Scott Mowrer deals specifically with the role of the US in the aftermath of World War I. In Realm of the Black Mountain: A History of Montenegro Elizabeth Roberts looks at the only country on the winning side that disappeared (swallowed up by Serbia) in the wake of the First World War.

Larry Summers in the best books on globalisation recommends The Economic Consequences of the Peace by John Maynard Keynes as a highly influential book that influenced how the Versailles Treaty was adjusted to manage the economic problems of the post-war era. David J Lynch recommends Lords of Finance by Liaquat Ahamed, which looks at the role of the world’s principal central bankers from before World War I through to the great depression and the outbreak of the World War II.

Eric Foner, in his best books on the evolution of liberalism recommends The Tragedy of American Diplomacy, which looks at the assumption that the expansion of freedom necessarily follows the expansion of US power. Roland Chambers chooses his best books on the Russian Revolution. In The Great War and Modern Memory, Paul Fussell looks at how the experience of World War I changed modern literature.

Lastly, in her interview on the best children’s fiction of 2018, Zoe Greaves recommends Skylarks’ War by Hilary McKay as a very accessible account of World War I for children.

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