Hew Strachan is the Chichele Professor of the History of War and a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford University. Strachan is the editor of The Oxford History of the First World War, which would lead to this three-volume history of the First World War. Strachan did not focus on covering the war in its worldwide aspect; therefore, we lose an in-depth character assessment of major figures. What he wrote is an effective framework of interpretation for hanging a lot of facts and factions and sites of conflict.
In the first chapter, Strachan starts off in Austria-Hungary. Focusing on the most important person in World War I in my opinion, Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The author starts off on June 14, 1914, in Konopischt, the hunting lodge of the Archduke. Strachan goes into detail and adds so much more information than I could have ever imagined. Strachan starts the book off with Archduke Franz Ferdinand because his assassination is what started the war between Austria-Hungary and Serbia and would lead to the first world war.
Strachan continues through the book talking about the events that took place through World War I. He continues after Ferdinand’s death with the war between Austria-Hungary and Serbia on July 28, 1914. Followed by this was Germany invading Luxemburg and Belgium dating August 2, 1914 through August 7, 1914. As Germany was invading Luxemburg and Belgium, France invaded Alsace, and British forces arrived in France. As the events played out, more and more countries were getting brought into the war. On August 10, 1914, Austria-Hungary invaded Russia.
Strachan continues the book by writing about the events playing out not only from a historical point of view but in a way that illustrates the war to the reader. He continues the book by writing about the naval blockades Germany enforced on Great Britain. On May 7, 1915, a German submarine would sink the passenger liner Lusitania which killed 128 Americans. This would eventually bring the United States into World War I.
Towards the end of the book, Strachan writes about Germany’s last gamble in the war. Germany would launch a massive attack on the Western Front. Eventually, on November 11, 1918, Germany would sign an armistice agreement with the Allies. Covered in the last chapter of Strachan’s book, the armistice and the Treaty of Versailles were signed to end the “War of all Wars”, but would Germany keep its promise and respect the armistice? Just by knowing U.S. history, I know why the last chapter is titled “War Without End”. Just wait until 1939.
To give an overall summary of Strachan’s “The First World War” from a different point of view would be to say that the book was written phenomenally in a complex way. Strachan’s book gives every piece of detail in the events of World War I and makes it enjoyable to read. Strachan gives so much detail about the events of World War I that it paints a picture in the reader’s mind, almost as if they can see it happening. I would highly recommend any person or scholar to read and study this phenomenal book.