Essential Reading List: Articles

The ‘Research and Learning Collection’ brings together a variety of interdisciplinary perspectives to help shine light on World War I in its political, military, cultural, economic, geographical and human dimensions, from its still-contested origins to its still-felt effects. It offers a breadth and depth of understanding on the world’s first global war. The collection will be free until the end of the year via this page only to coincide with the centenary of the Armistice. Simply select the category you are interested in from the list below and enjoy browsing.


Origins of the First World War: Revised 3rd Edition

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 Origins of the First World War

Ruth Henig

Beginning with the legacy of Bismarck's diplomacy between 1871 and 1890, Ruth Henig surveys the roots of the conflict and outlines the assassination crisis which led to war in August 1914, looking especially at the factors which influenced individual countries to mobilize their armed forces.

She goes on to consider how the long-term factors leading up to the crisis of 1914 and the crisis itself have been interpreted by successive generations of historians since 1919, including the recent arguments concerning German responsibility for the outbreak of war.

The War at Home

Britain and World War One

Alan G. V. Simmonds

“Simmonds does a particularly fine job of analyzing the shift in party politics and the response of coalition government to the crises of food, production, housing, prices, and labor… This book should be required reading for those who want to understand shifting political alliances, the challenges of managing manpower (and womanpower), and the reluctant move to conscription.” - Tammy M. Proctor, The Historian

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. Each chapter gives a concise account of its subject and the chapters are well supported by maps and tables. This is an important textbook for school students and undergraduates which bridges the gap between specialized research on the First World War and the needs of the student reader.

The Global War

The Great War

John Morrow

'Morrow does more than simply point at a map and intone locations and dates…his characters become dramatic and autonomous. We do not simply learn what they did, we understand it…Morrow is the sort of compassionate, original historian who gives you faith in the future.' The Observer

'Morrow's work is lively, informative and based on a lifetime of reading.' The Independent

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. Beginning with the tensions that already existed, the atlas covers:

the early months of the war: from the fall of Belgium to the fierce fighting at Ypres and Tannenberg:
the developing war in Europe: from Gallipoli to the horrors of the Somme and Verdun
life at the front: from living underground, the trench system and the mud of Passchendaele to the war graves
technology and the new horrors: from phosgene gas attacks to submarines, tanks and mines
the home fronts: from German food riots to the air defence of Britain, the Russian Revolution and the collapse of Austria-Hungary
the aftermath: from war debts and war deaths to the new map of Europe.

Strategy and Innovation

War Aims and Strategic Policy in the Great War 1914-1918

Barry Hunt, Adrian Preston

Recent research has largely destroyed the fallacy that most of the powers declared war in 1914 without any clear perception of why and to what ultimate end. War aims were the subject of frequent examination, although decisions to publicise the results depended on a number of factors affecting both national and alliance politics.

This book is a collection of original essays by six distinguished scholars dealing with the problem of the major powers’ political aims and military strategies during World War I. The contributors write from the viewpoint of their own special interests and research and so offer a broad spectrum of ideas on the main theme of the book.

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.

World War One and the Arts

American Newsfilm 1914-1919: The Underexposed War

David H. Mould

The First World War was the first conflict in which film became a significant instrument of propaganda. For the United States, the war had two distinct phases: from August 1914 to April 1917, America was officially a neutral country; after April 1917 the United States was in the war, providing men, money and munitions for the Allies. These two phases are mirrored in the newsreels and documentary films shown in the United States. 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.

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

Elizabeth A. Marsland

As we approach the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, this timely reissue, first published in 1991, evaluates the function of poetry in wartime Europe, arguing that war poetry must be understood as a social as well as a literary phenomenon.

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.

After the War

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 Inter-War Crisis

R J Overy

The inter-war years were, at the time, perceived to be years of crisis across the world. The First World War, ‘the war to end all wars’, had solved nothing and its legacy was a world full of unresolved disputes and manifest ambiguities.

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.