A Popular History of The Great War
- Volume 1 – The First Phase: 1914 (Chapter View) • (Page View) • (Index)
- Volume 2 – Extension of the Struggle: 1915
- Volume 3 – The Allies at Bay: 1916
- Volume 4 – A Year of Attrition: 1917
- Volume 5 – The Year of Victory: 1918
- Volume 6 – The Armistice and After
THROUGHOUT the years 1914-1919 the present Editor, in association with Mr. H. W. Wilson, the eminent authority on naval and military subjects, was responsible for the compilation of the most extensive body of contemporary annals of the war that has been published in this [United Kingdom] country. The work in question contained no fewer than 7,000,000 words and some 12,000 pictorial documents. Although it remains a storehouse of information for future students of the period, "The Great War," as that set of thirteen massive volumes was called, would now require to be largely re-written n the light of later knowledge: a task beyond the means of private enterprise and of doubtful value to the ordinary reader today.
But a real need exists for a new history of the war embodying the gist of post-war revelations and official documents, and sufficiently detailed to provide accurate information on any aspect, and almost on any point, of the war concerning which the present-day reader might desire to be informed. The six volumes comprising this new work are designed to meet that want, which is felt especially by two classes of the reading public. One consists of those, now in middle life or rapidly approaching it, who played a personal part, were "on active service," to use the official and suggestive phrase, in that tremendous struggle and who, after the lapse of some fifteen years, would like to refresh their memories about the events in which they took part, on land, on the sea, or in the air. The second class comprises those who were schoolboys and schoolgirls when the worldwide conflict began and whose knowledge of it is for the most part fragmentary, disjointed, and impersonal, much as it is of the American Civil, or the Franco-Prussian War.
In planning and preparing this work the Editor has made some use of the abundant literary material existing in the monumental work above mentioned, but this Popular History of the Great War is to be regarded as an original narrative of the most astounding events in the history of the modern world, newly compiled and written by a large staff of expert contributors fully conversant with all the post-war revelations and rectifications war-time opinion. No efforts have been spared to ensure the accuracy of the many thousands of statements made in these volumes, and throughout the compilation of the work our constant and careful consultation of dispatches and official documents has not been confined to those of Great Britain only. Mention should also be made here of the Editor's great indebtedness to the Official Histories of the War, especially the volumes of "Military Operations, France and Flanders," edited by Brigadier General Sir James E. Edmonds and published by Macmillan & Co., Ltd., and of "Naval Operations," edited by Sir Julian Corbett and published by Longmans, Green & Co., Ltd.
Our six volumes are divided into clearly cut periods, and the chapters carry the story forward, as far as possible, in chronological order, so that the reader can turn readily to any part of the narrative in which he may be particularly interested. For textual reference to the numerous events, places, and personalities a complete index is provided at the end of the work.
The point of view taken throughout the work is frankly that of Great Britain, in which are included the Dominions and other overseas parts of the Empire, whose contributions to the common cause are duly recorded in their proper places. The Editor has not thought it necessary to assume that Great Britain was always in the wrong, or to minimize in any way the wonderful heroism shown by her fighting men in the three arms, although he has tried to avoid the somewhat overheated rhetoric in which many of the early descriptions of the events of the war expressed. He is equally anxious to be fair to the enemy, whose bravery, at all events, was unquestioned, but he has been unable to accept the view that all the warring nations were equally responsible for the conflict, or that the Germans, having lost the war, should escape the just penalty of their folly or their crime.
One or two features of these volumes may be noted. They contain 3,840 pages of text, and something like 1,500,000 words. Over 100 maps and diagrams are provided to help the reader to follow the various naval and military operations, and in addition there are some 800 photographic illustrations of places and persons mentioned in our History. A diary of events of the period is appended to each volume, which also contains biographical particulars of those in the various countries who figured prominently in the struggle.