Essential Reading List: Books

Incorporating both recent and classic publications, and spanning subjects from social and cultural history, to strategy, to aftermath and memory, this collection of books provides comprehensive scholarship for students, researchers, instructors, and everyone interested in learning more about the events and impact of this global war.

You can explore our full collection of books by browsing our online catalog here.

American Newsfilm 1914-1919

David H. Mould

This volume starts by examining the background to the war for the movie industry – the coverage of previous conflicts and the growth of the newsreel. It examines the experiences of American cameramen who worked in the war zone: their efforts to gain access to the front, to overcome problems ranging from unreliable equipment to poor lighting conditions to evading censorship and how this shaped the coverage of the war.

Britain and the First World War

John Turner

This book gives students an informed insight into the British experience in the First World War. The contributors, all established First World War historians, have drawn on their own research and secondary sources to give a succinct account of politics, diplomacy, strategy and social developments during a period of dramatic change. 

Britain and World War One

Alan G. V. Simmonds

Britain and World War One throws attention on these civilians who fought the war on the Home Front. Harnessing recent scholarship, and drawing on original documents, oral testimony and historical texts, this book casts a fresh look over different aspects of British society during the four long years of war. 

Britain, America and the Sinews of War 1914-1918

Kathleen Burk

This book sets out the economic, and in particular, the financial relations between the two powers during the war, setting it in the context of the more familiar political and diplomatic relationship. Particular attention is paid to the British war missions sent out to the USA, which were the agents for much of the financial and economic negotiation, and which are rescued here from underserved historical obscurity.

British Food Policy During the First World War

Margaret Barnett

Because of the exceptionally high proportion of imports in Britain’s food supply and the determined efforts of the enemy to sever the supply lines, efficient management of food resources was an essential element in the British national war effort. This volume was the first comprehensive study of this vital aspect of government strategy and fills a gap in the historiography of this period. 

British Strategy and War Aims 1914-1916

David French

This book illustrates the relationship between British military policy and the development of British war aims during the opening years of the First World War. Basing his work on a wide range of unpublished documentary sources, David French reassesses for the benefit of students and scholars alike what was meant by ‘a war of attrition’.

Contested Objects: Material Memories of the Great War

Nicholas J. Saunders, Paul Cornish

Contested Objects breaks new ground in the interdisciplinary study of material culture. Its focus is on the rich and varied legacy of objects from the First World War as the global conflict that defined the twentieth century. From the iconic German steel helmet to practice trenches on Salisbury Plain, and from the ‘Dazzle Ship’ phenomenon through medal-wearing, diary-writing, trophy collecting, the market in war souvenirs and the evocative reworking of European objects by African soldiers, this book presents a dazzling array of hitherto unseen worlds of the Great War.

Europe from War to War 1914-1945

Alice-Catherine Carls, Stephen D. Carls

This book explores this age of metamorphosis within European history, an age that played a crucial role in shaping the Europe of today. Covering a wide range of topics such as religion, arts and literature, humanitarian relief during the wars, transnational feminism, and efforts to create a unified Europe, it examines the social and cultural history of this period as well as political, economic, military, and diplomatic perspectives.

European Navies and the Conduct of War

Carlos Alfaro-Zaforteza, Alan James, Malcolm H Murfett

This book considers the different contexts within which European navies operated over a period of 500 years culminating in World War Two, the greatest war ever fought at sea.

First World War Nursing

Alison S. Fell, Christine E. Hallett

This book brings together a collection of works by scholars who have produced some of the most innovative and influential work on the topic of First World War nursing in the last ten years. 

Longman Companion to the First World War Europe 1914-1918

Colin Nicolson

Speaking as loudly as any first-hand account, the facts and figures laid out in this volume reveal the sheer massive destruction caused by the war. Covering all aspects of the conflict from its origins and course to the peace settlements and the crises they generated, Colin Nicolson unravels historical controversies and also considers the social, cultural and economic consequences of the war for the whole of Europe. 

Matters of Conflict: Material Culture, Memory and the First World War

Nicholas J. Saunders

From trench art and postcards through avant-garde art, museum collections and prosthetic limbs to battlefield landscapes, this book examines the First World War and its significance through the things it left behind. The contributions come from a multidisciplinary perspective, uniting previously compartmentalized disciplines such as anthropology, archaeology, cultural history, museology and art history in their focus on material culture. 

Military Occupations in First World War Europe

Sophie De Schaepdrijver

The chapters in this book analyze military occupation in 1914-1918 both from the point of view of the occupied and from the point of view of the occupier. They study counter-insurgency warfare, forced labour, food regimes, underground patriotism, and cultural policies. They demonstrate that military occupation was an essential dimension of the Great War.

Monumental Conflicts

Derek R. Mallett

Monumental Conflicts examines 20th century wars from the First World War to the First Gulf War, each chapter analyzing how public memory has evolved over time. The chapters raise fascinating questions about war and memory: Why are wars remembered as they are? What factors drive changes in public perception? What implications arise from remembering and commemorating a war or particular aspects of a war? What does public memory of a war say about us as a society?

Origins of the First World War

Gordon Martel

Origins of the First World War summarizes and analyses the policies, issues and crises that brought Europe to war in 1914. Martel explains the position of each of the great powers, and their place in the system of alliances that dominated international politics. He examines the strategic and political problems that confronted each power, and the way in which society and economics influenced the decision-making process.

Philanthropy and Voluntary Action in the First World War

Peter Grant

This book challenges scholarship which presents charity and voluntary activity during World War I as marking a downturn from the high point of the late Victorian period. Charitable donations rose to an all-time peak, and the scope and nature of charitable work shifted decisively. Far more working class activists, especially women, became involved, although there were significant differences between the suburban south and industrial north of England and Scotland. The book also corrects the idea that charitably-minded civilians’ efforts alienated the men at the front, in contrast to the degree of negativity that surrounds much previous work on voluntary action in this period. Far from there being an unbridgeable gap in understanding or empathy between soldiers and civilians, the links were strong, and charitable contributions were enormously important in maintaining troop morale. This bond significantly contributed to the development and maintenance of social capital in Britain, which, in turn, strongly supported the war effort. This work draws on previously unused primary sources, notably those regarding the developing role of the UK’s Director General of Voluntary Organizations and the regulatory legislation of the period.

Remembering the First World War

Bart Ziino

Remembering the First World War brings together a group of international scholars to understand how and why the past quarter of a century has witnessed such an extraordinary increase in global popular and academic interest in the First World War, both as an event and in the ways it is remembered.

Strategy and Supply: The Anglo-Russian Alliance 1914-1917

Keith Neilson

Based on a wide range of primary sources, this book shows the way in which diplomacy, economics, finance and strategy became intertwined during the First World War. The author examines the diplomatic, economic, financial and military relations between Britain and Russia and argues that the key to understanding the alliance is the British determination to win the war and the role Russia played in achieving this aim. British strategy is shown to be more the result of her relations with her allies, especially during the first years of the war, than a quarrel between East and West. This revision of the accepted interpretation of the strategy leads to a reassessment of the views of Lloyd George, Kitchener and Grey. The author concludes that in 1917 the British interest in Russia remained as it was earlier in the war: the maintenance of a powerful ally on the eastern front.

The First World War

Stuart Robson

This is a compelling account of the First World War. It offers clear analysis of the war on land, sea, and air, and considers the impact of the war on Europe's civilian population. Issues addressed include the relationship between war and industrialisation, trench warfare, the long term effects of the war on changing social structures, and economic and demographic consequences. The main text is supplemented by a rich selection of primary source material (from songs, soldiers' slang, to diary accounts).

The First World War Peace Settlements, 1919-1925

Erik Goldstein

The First World War changed the face of Europe - two empires (the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire) collapsed in its wake and as a result many of the boundaries of Europe were redrawn and new states were created. The origins of many of the international crises in the late twentieth century can be traced back to decisions taken in these critical years, Yugoslavia being the most obvious example. An understanding of the peace settlements is thus crucial for any student studying international history/international relations, which is what this book offers.

The Great War: An Imperial History

John Morrow

The Great War is a landmark history that firmly places the First World War in the context of imperialism. Set to overturn conventional accounts of what happened during this, the first truly international conflict, it extends the study of the First World War beyond the confines of Europe and the Western Front.

The Great War: 1914-1918

Ian F. W. Beckett

The course of events of the Great War has been told many times, spurred by an endless desire to understand 'the war to end all wars'. However, this book moves beyond military narrative to offer a much fuller analysis of of the conflict's strategic, political, economic, social and cultural impact.

Starting with the context and origins of the war, including assasination, misunderstanding and differing natiThe war left a long-term legacy for victors and vanquished alike. It created new frontiers, changed the balance of power and influenced the arts, national memory and political thought.

The Inter-war Crisis

R J Overy

Overy examines the Russian Revolution and its aftermath, the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the subsequent economic crisis which struck at the very foundations of the capitalist world, and seeks to explain why dictatorships came to supplant democracy in Italy, Spain, Germany, the Baltic States and the Balkans, and why the world slid into war once more in 1939.

The Nation's Cause: French, English and German Poetry of the First World War

Elizabeth A. Marsland

As well as locating the work of well-known French, English and German war poets in a European context, Elizabeth Marsland discusses lesser-known poetry of the war years, including poems by women and the neglected tradition of civilian protest through poetry. Identifying shared characteristics as well as the unique features of each nation’s poetry, The Nation’s Cause affords new insight into the relationship between nationalism and the social attitudes that determined the conduct of war.

The Origins of the First World War

Gordon Martel

Origins of the First World War summarizes and analyses the policies, issues and crises that brought Europe to war in 1914. Martel explains the position of each of the great powers, and their place in the system of alliances that dominated international politics. He examines the strategic and political problems that confronted each power, and the way in which society and economics influenced the decision-making process.

The Routledge Atlas of the First World War

Martin Gilbert

From its origins to its terrible legacy, the tortuous course of the Great War is vividly set out in a series of 174 fascinating maps. Together the maps form a comprehensive and compelling picture of the war that shattered Europe, and illustrate its military, social, political and economic aspects. 

The Search for Negotiated Peace: Women's Activism and Citizen Diplomacy in World War I

David S. Patterson

The First World War was an epic event of huge proportions that lasted over four years and involved the armies of more than twenty nations, resulting in 30 million casualties, including more than 8 million killed. Set against the backdrop of this massive carnage, The Search for Negotiated Peace is the gripping story of the events that moved high profile American and European citizens, particularly women, into the international peace movement. 

The United States and the First World War

Jennifer D. Keene

The United States and the First World War provides a concise, comprehensive and engaging evaluation of the war's significance in American history by examining the causes of the war, mobilization on the homefront, key social reforms enacted during the war, military strategy, the experiences of soldiers, the Versailles Peace Treaty, and the lessons Americans drew in the postwar years from their wartime experiences. Was the First World War a just war for the United States? This lively and interesting guide, full of maps and key primary source documents gives students the resources they need to grapple with this important question, and also to analyze how the war changed millions of American lives.

The War Plans of the Great Powers

Paul Kennedy

Did the military wrest control from the civilians? Were the leaders of Europe eager for a conflict? What military commitments were made between the various alliance blocks? These questions are examined in detail here in eleven essays by distinguished historians and the editor’s introduction provides a focus and draws out the comparative approach to the history of military policies and war plans of the great powers.

War and the State: The Transformation of British Government, 1914-1919

Kathleen Burk

This volume gives students and researchers an insight into British central government in 1914, how and why it altered during the war years and what permanent changes remained when the war was over. The war saw the scope of governmental intervention widened in an unprecedented manner. The contributors to this book analyse the reasons for this expansion and describe how the changes affected the government machine and the lives of the citizens. They consider why some innovations did not survive the coming of peace while others permanently transformed the duties and procedures of government.

We Can Take It!

Mark Connelly

`We Can Take It!' shows that the British remember the war in a peculiar way, thanks to a mix of particular images and evidence. Our memory has been shaped by material which is completely removed from historical reality. These images (including complete inventions) have combined to make a new history. The vision is mostly cosy and suits the way in which the Britons conceive of themselves: dogged, good humoured, occasionally bumbling, unified and enjoying diversity. 

Women and the First World War

Susan R. Grayzel

Women and the First World War provides an introduction to the experiences and contributions of women during this important turning point in history. In addition to exploring women’s relationship to the war in each of the main protagonist states, the book also looks at the wide-ranging effects of the war on women in Africa Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and North America. 

Women in the British Army: War and the Gentle Sex, 1907–1948

Lucy Noakes

In this fascinating, timely and engaging study, Lucy Noakes examines women's role in the army and female military organizations during the First and Second World Wars, during peacetime, in the interwar era and in the post-war period.

Women Workers in the First World War

Gail Braybon

This book looks at how and why women were employed, and in what ways society’s attitudes towards women workers did or did not change during the war. Contrary to the mythology of the war, which portrayed women as popular workers, rewarded with the vote for their splendid work, the author shows that most employers were extremely reluctant to take on women workers, and remained cynical about their performance. The book considers attitudes towards women’s work as held throughout society.

Ypres: The First Battle 1914

Ian Beckett

The battle for Ypres in October and November 1914 represented the last opportunity for open, mobile warfare on the Western Front. In the first study of First Ypres for almost 40 years, Ian Beckett draws on a wide range of sources never previously used to reappraise the conduct of the battle, its significance and its legacy.