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The First World War: The Best Books On WWI

Updated on December 13, 2017
raymondphilippe profile image

We are all a result of what happened in the past. I love English history, economic history and all things related to WW1 and WW2

Belgian machine guns pulled by dogs. Near Termonde
Belgian machine guns pulled by dogs. Near Termonde | Source


Ruined buildings at Chateau Thierry
Ruined buildings at Chateau Thierry | Source

The Great War

The Great War

This is what the First World War (1914-1918) was called in the beginning.
Later (in 1917), when America joined in, it was renamed "The First World War '.

The First World War was the first war ...
- Which used airplanes,
- Where poison gas was used as a weapon
- Where tanks and the flamethrowers where used,
- Where machine guns and heavy artillery were used.

As far as casualties are concerned, it was a war that had never been like any previous wars in history. The number of casualties was enormous. An estimated 9.000.000 combattents died in and around the battlefields of Europe.

The war began on 28th of July 1914 and lasted until 11th of November 1918.

Numerous books have been published about the war. Some discuss how it started, some put more emphasis on the battles, and some describe in detail the impact it had on people like you and me.

I can not imagine you won't succeed in finding a book to your liking from the following list.
Enjoy your next read.

Did You Read "The War That Ended Peace: The Road To 1914"

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The War That Ended Peace: The Road To 1914

Margaret Olwen MacMillan (born 1943) published her book in October 2013.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, many people thought that a long period of prosperity, progress and peace had begun.
1913 was an exciting and optimistic year.
But a year later the bloodiest period in its history started for Europe, which devastated many lives and economies.
The end of the war also meant the end of Europe's global influence.
How could this happen? What has actually happened?
In 1914, in a fascinating reconstruction, Margaret MacMillan shows that not only technological and political developments but also moments of human weakness led Europe towards the abyss.

Did You Read "The Guns of August"

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The Guns of August

Barbara W. Tuchman (born 1912) published her book in March 1994.

Both the situation at the eastern and the western front in the first month is extensively described.

Tuchman argues that the war was decided in the first month, because a two- front war was inevitable.

It says a lot about the quality of the German war machine that they managed to fight on two fronts for such a long time.

The book is filled with interesting anecdotes and various citations that make the book very readable.

A brilliant book that exposes the horror and the powers involved in war.

Did You Read "The First World War"

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The First World War

John Keegan (born 1934) published his book in May 2000.

The First World War was a conflagration that remains shrouded in mystery.

Ironically, this observation comes from John Keegan himself, the historian, who is considered by many to be the best qualified to make sense of it.

This book focuses in particular on the greatest mystery of the drama: the stubborn continuation of trench warfare.
What kept the nations and their armies going?
Why weren't the generals more resourceful in what in retrospect should be classified as a semi-criminal enterprise?

Keegan answers these questions and provides a nuanced description of the horrors of the front.

Did You Read "A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, 1914 to 1918"

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A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, 1914 to 1918

G.J. Meyer published his book in May 2007.

The author found the perfect balance and color to describe a complicated conflict.

His journalistic abilities serve the reader with shocking immediacy, never forgetting to enter the human effects of the war.

The book is a riveting tale about a four-year disaster brought about by human miscalculation and vanity in leadership, compared with unbelievable bravery in the ranks.

Did You Read "All Quiet on the Western Front"

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All Quiet on the Western Front

Erich Maria Remarque (born 1898) published his book in 1929.

At the end of 1928, Erich Maria Remarque completed his "Im Westen Nichts Neues".

Ever since the first day of its appearance "Im Westen Nichts Neues" has not only been a literary monument, but also a political and cultural event of great significance.
With its sober and succinct description of the madness of war, the work was immediately and permanently recognized as one of the most important and impressive books of modern times.

This masterpiece of modern art proves as a manifesto of what literature can be: rarely is human reality and human faith finally described in such a decisive reading experience.

Did You Read "Regeneration"

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Pat Barker (born 1943) published her trilogy in April 2013.

In the nineties English author Pat Barker published three novels about the First World War: "Regeneration " (1991), "The Eye in the Door" (1993), and "The Goast Road" (1995).

These previously separate published novels are bundled in a band. In a clear, narrative style the writer of this trilogy paints a poignant picture of the horrors of this "man to man" war and the traumatic effects on those who survived.

Did You Read "The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914"

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The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914

Christopher Clark (born 1960) published his book in march 2013.

The European continent is at peace on the morning of June 28, 1914, at the moment when Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie Chotek ride into the station of Sarajevo. They were killed that day and thirty-seven days later the First World War began.
The conflict that arose that summer, involved sixty five armies (including 3 world powers) and claimed over twenty million lives. Even now the build-up to the First World War sounds roughly familiar: suicide bombers, shadowy underground movements and mass hysteria dominating Europe.

Christopher Clark approaches the mythical First World War as if it concerns a vivid reconstruction of the facts today. Clark draws from the most interesting archives, builds a thoroughly breathtaking story as he discusses all the main players. He tells the story of decision makers - kings, emperors, foreign ministers, ambassadors, commanders and a myriad of low ranked soldiers - who carefully approached the danger with careful, calculated steps, addressing threats and risks, but blind to the horror that they would inevitably cause.

Did You Read The First World?

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The First World War

Thank you aethelthryth for suggesting Hew Strachan's books on WWI.
She wrote "They are comparatively recent, but from the detail of his research I think Hew Strachan's books may end up as the definitive work on the subject".

Hew Strachan (born 1949) published his book in april 2004.
This easy to read report of the First World War is the basis for a broadcast by Channel 4 series. In this well-documented book Hew Strachan shows that the First World War was not just a European affair, but a matter involving the whole world. This immensely detailed work provides a new perspective on the war. It points to a political agenda. The book is richly illustrated with black and white photos and even includes a booklet with beautiful color photos.


Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

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The spark that started World War I was the assassination of Austria's Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie. June 28, 1914


get directions

World War I began on July 28, 1914, when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia.

Versailles, France

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Treaty of Versailles of 28 June 1919, marked the end of World War I.

Machine gun mounted on an aircraft
Machine gun mounted on an aircraft | Source


Ranking out of 5 stars
Number Of Reviews
Margaret MacMillan
The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914
Barbara W. Tuchman
The Guns of August
John Keegan
The First World War
G.J. Meyer
A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, 1914 to 1918
Erich Maria Remarque
All Quiet on the Western Front
Pat Barker
Regeneration Trilogy
Christopher Clark
The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914
Hew Strachan
The First World War
The Ranking and Number of Reviews is Based on Info available at
HMS Britannia, shortly after being struck by a torpedo near Gilbraltar, 9 Nov 1918
HMS Britannia, shortly after being struck by a torpedo near Gilbraltar, 9 Nov 1918 | Source

Want To Discover More Books

The list above is only a handful of the books available on WW1.

Quite probably a whole new bunch of books will be added this year (2014) to commemorate the start of the first Global War.

If your appetite can handle it you might want to take a look at two other collections of WWI Books:

Please share your favorites in the Comment Section. We'd love to hear from you.


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    • Daniel17White profile image

      Daniel White 

      3 years ago

      I recomend reading Ernst Junger's memoir 'Storm of Steel'. He lived an amazing life during the war and provides in great detail an amazing description of the daily life in the war through the eyes of a common solider.

    • raymondphilippe profile imageAUTHOR

      Raymond Philippe 

      5 years ago from The Netherlands

      Thanks for commenting. I read and enjoyed all 4 books you mentioned. The last time we visited Manchester, uk, the war museum there had a part dedicated to treatment of (facial) wounds. What a suffering many had to deal with.

    • profile image

      Colin Neville 

      5 years ago

      Pat Barker's trilogy is excellent, and a very accessible way into understanding the horror and stress of this dreadful war. Her latest book, 'Toby's Room' ,stays with the theme of WW1 and the surgical and emotional treatment of soldiers with horrific facial wounds.

    • mylindaelliott profile image


      5 years ago from Louisiana

      Thank you for all of the suggestions. I had only read one of those.

    • raymondphilippe profile imageAUTHOR

      Raymond Philippe 

      5 years ago from The Netherlands

      Thanks FlourishAnyway . If he has any suggestions I'll add them to the list.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      5 years ago from USA

      My husband is a history buff, reading widely on the subject. I will share this hub with him.

    • raymondphilippe profile imageAUTHOR

      Raymond Philippe 

      5 years ago from The Netherlands

      Thanks for your tip aethelthryth. I'll certainly add your suggestion to the list. It's on my to-do list.

    • aethelthryth profile image


      5 years ago from American Southwest

      You might want to add Hew Strachan's books on WWI. They are comparatively recent, but from the detail of his research I think Hew Strachan's books may end up as the definitive work on the subject.

    • raymondphilippe profile imageAUTHOR

      Raymond Philippe 

      5 years ago from The Netherlands

      Thanks DDE for stopping by. Thanks for the thumbs up.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Interesting about the list of books and so informative. Your selection is helpful and enlightens us on that time of war.


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