Mapping The First World War : Battlefields of the Great Conflict from Above
This title features over 120 large-format illustrations present detailed and fascinating wartime cartography. Key battles such as the Somme, Mons, Gallipoli, Jutland and Ypres are given extensive coverage alongside fascinating detail pieces such as airship raids and stations, communication systems, Orders of Battle, railroad routes and battlefield medical stations. The approach also provides a detailed chronological history of the conflict and will appeal to military historians and family historians alike.
The Great War was so devastating - eight million lives were lost globally - that in its aftermath a horrified world expected it to be the final chapter in armed conflict. Mapping The First World War provides a uniquely different perspective on the 'war to end all wars'. An introduction details the causes and progress of the war and is followed by over a hundred maps and charts that show the broad sweep of events, from Germany's 1914 war goals to the final positions of the troops.
There are maps depicting movements and battles as well as related documents, such as those on levels of conscription and numbers of weapons. As in all wars, maps were vital to the military organization of all sides during World War I. Before each military event there was the planning, the reconnaissance, and the conjecture as to enemy positions.
After the event there would be debriefing, analysis of success and failure, and a redrawing of maps to show new troop positions and boundaries. All of the maps featured in this book have been drawn from the extensive collection held by the National Archives at Kew in west London. Providing a fascinating and unique insight into the planning and organization of military campaigns, Mapping The First World War is essential for anyone interested in military history.
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This beautifully produced hardback volume has been put together by Simon Forty, who has apparently been involved in publishing for over thirty years and specialises in military history. That experience shows in this work: its selection of visual content, its careful use of commentary on each document shown, and its high production values made this a pleasure to read.
The book opens with a short textual introduction to the war itself, covering in around 20 pages the key nations involved, the course of the conflict, and its immediate aftermath and legacy. The remainder of the book is taken up with beautiful reproductions of documents relating to different aspects of the war, all from The National Archives (TNA) and arranged in chronological order.
The "mapping" of the title is interpreted broadly, and the volume includes documents as diverse as charts, graphs, aerial photos and sketches as well as more conventional maps. Each document is accompanied by a brief commentary which explains what is shown and often draws out interesting details.
The production values of the book are high - with a solid hardback cover and the pages printed on heavy paper, this is definitely a 'coffee table book' and not a field manual. Very occasionally, I was frustrated by a map which had been reproduced at a size too small to make out the detail, at least without a magnifying glass. But this was a minor issue, especially as every document is meticulously referenced so that you can always track down the original at TNA.
If you are interested in the First World War, or in mapping, this is likely to be a welcome addition to your book collection; and an incentive, if any is needed, to delve deeper into the archives at Kew for yourself.
The Friends of The National Archives