Review: A World Undone, The Story of the Great War 1914-1918 by G.J. Meyer

Title: A World Undone, The Story of the Great War 1914-1918
Author: G.J. Meyer
Publisher: Bantam Dell, A Division of Random House 2006 (Hardcover) 2007 (Paperback)
Genre: Non-Fiction
Labels: History, Military, World War I, Europe, Germany, England, Austro-Hungary, Prussia, Russia, War Through The Generations Challenge World War I
Format: Paperback
Age: Adult
Pages: 816
Rating: 5 Stars for Excellent

 War Through The Generations Reading Challenge 2012 World War I The Great War 1914-1918
This is the last book for me to read and review for the War Through The Generations Challenge on World War I. When the year began I knew little about World War I. In 2012 I've read 13 books for this challenge. After reading A World Undone, The Story of the Great War 1914-1918 by G.J. Meyer, I feel as if I've taken a college course on World War I. This is "the" book to read if you are wanting to read about this war. I give 5 stars for this book. One drawback is it's a lengthy book at 816 pages. To help me digest more easily the book, I placed a tiny sticky post-it-note at every 100 pages, this helped me to divide the book up in sections. Instead of feeling overwhelmed at the whole of it, I felt less intimidated by dividing it up.

In the introduction the author states why and how he became involved in the study of World War I. He called it "a labor of love." He'd first been "introduced to World War I when he was a young boy, when he came into possession of a copy of All Quiet on the Western Front." Included in the introduction he states his goals. One of his goals was to have "one volume on the subject of World War I." He wanted the "one volume" to include: "all elements, objectives, historical background and figures." He was also adamant in, "what he wanted to stay away from."

To explain how World War I began could never be summed up in one sentence.
  1. There was a mix-up in communication and or a misunderstanding between the countries of Germany and Russia. Ironically the men who were charge of these two countries were cousins. 
  2. "The heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire was shot to death" along with his wife. They were assassinated by radical Serb's while in Bosnia.
  3. The country of Bosnia had a radical Serbian group that wanted to expand their country, as well as enlarge its Balkan borders for the sake of the Serbian people. 
  4. The country of Turkey wanted to win back land they'd lost in previous wars. 
  5. Other countries came to the "aid" of others and then they too were involved in the war. 
  6. Austria wanted to control Serbia, and they wanted Germany to defend them. 
  7. Russia was "expected" to help Serbia.
  8. Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany was not sane, rational, nor an adequate leader.
  9. Russia and France were allies.
  10. The countries of France, Germany, and Russia, each felt threatened and anxious of each other, because they felt the others were mobilizing and preparing for war.
  11. Britain would aid France. 
  12. America would eventually aid Britain.
It was in August of 1914 when the war began. Many felt the war would not last long. They certainly had no inkling to the great cost of life during the four years the war lasted. In the end the war came to a halt because Germany had tired. The war ended on November 11, 1918 at 11 am-----Armistice Day. 

Positive Points:
  • I was impressed with the authors introduction. I felt he had goals mapped out, and I feel he was successful in the result. 
  • I loved that after each chapter there was a behind the scenes chapter on individual countries, groups of people, national leaders, a soldier's life, women, Shell Shock.
  • The author describes the battles of World War I in graphic detail. I was given a distant view of the battles to give me a widened view, then the author drew me in for a close-up. 
  • The stories from the men who fought in these battles personalized the book.
  • I was introduced to a young Winston Churchill. 
  • Probably the best researched book I've read.
  • The author made it both educational and interesting. I hate to use the word entertaining because the horrors of war are not an enjoyable entertainment.
Negative Points:
  • As I'd stated earlier in the review the book is lengthy (816 pages). This was not a problem for me. The book is worth every moment of reading.
* I consider this book to be in my top 5 reads for 2012.
File:The announcing of the armistice on November 11, 1918, was the occasion for a monster celebration in Philadelphia... - NARA - 533478.tif
In Philadelphia, PA at the announcement of the armistice November 11, 1918.
Link @ Amazon:
Paperback $14.28
Kindle $16.99