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WWI Book List

The subject of the 100th anniversary of WWI came up in discussion, and this discussion lead to the generation of a list of recommended books on WWI.

Pre-war Books:

Pleshakov, Konstantin. The Tsar’s Last Armada: The Epic Journey to the Battle of Tsushima. New York: Basic, 2003. Print.


WWI Books:

Tuchman, Barbara W. The Guns of August – August 1914. N.p.: New English Library, 1964. Print.

Romanych, M., and M. Rupp. 42cm “Big Bertha” and German Siege Artillery of World War I. Oxford: Osprey, 2014. Print.

Hoyt, Edwin Palmer. The Last Cruise of the Emden. Guilford, CT: Lyons, 2001. Print.

Van Der Vat, Dan. Gentlemen of War: The Amazing Story of Captain Karl Von Müller and the S.M.S. EMDEN. New York: Morrow, 1984. Print.

Noppen, Ryan, and Paul Wright. German Commerce Raiders 1914-18. Oxford: Osprey, 2015. Print.

Weintraub, Stanley. Silent Night: The Remarkable Christmas Truce of 1914. London: Simon & Schuster, 2014. Print.

Massie, Robert K. Dreadnought: Britain, Germany, and the Coming of the Great War. London: Vintage, 2007. Print.

Massie, Robert K. Castles of Steel: Britain, Germany, and the Winning of the Great War at Sea. New York: Ballantine, 2004. Print.

London, Charles. Jutland 1916: Clash of the Dreadnoughts. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2004. Print.

Tuchman, Barbara W. Zimmerman Telegram. New York: Macmillam, 1966. Print.

Keegan, John. The First World War. Norwalk, CT: Easton, 2000. Print.

Clark, Christopher M. The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914. New York: Harper Perennial, 2014. Print.

Lieven, Dominic. Towards the Flame: Empire, War and the End of Tsarist Russia. London: Allen Lane, 2015. Print.

Wilson, Dale. Treat ’em Rough: The Birth of American Armor, 1917-20. Novato, CA: Presidio, 1989. Print.

Reynolds, Quentin James. They Fought for the Sky: The Story of the First World War in the Air. London: Pan, 1977. Print.

Treadwell, Terry C. Knights of the Black Cross: German Fighter Aces of the First World War. Btistol: Cerberus, 2004. Print.

Whitehouse, Arch. Heroes of the Sunlit Sky. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1967. Print.

Rickenbacker, Eddie. Fighting the Flying Circus. Gloucestershire: Dodo, 2009. Print.

Woolley, Charles. First to the Front: The Aeriel Adventures of 1st Lt. Waldo Heinrichs and the 95th Aero Squadron. 1917-1918. Atglen: Schiffer Pub., 1999. Print.

Hamilton-Paterson, James. Marked for Death. New York: Pegasus, 2016. Print.

Hynes, Samuel. The Unsubstantial Air: American Fliers in the First World War. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015. Print.

Thompson, Mark. The White War: Life and Death on the Italian Front 1915-1919. London: Basic, 2010. Print.

Alexander, Roy. The Cruise of the Raider “Wolf”. Costa Mesa, CA: Noontide, 1991. Print.

Nordhoff, Charles. Falcons of France. John Hamilton: London, 1931. Print.

McMeekin, Sean. July 1914: Countdown to War. New York: Basic, 2014. Print.

Toland, John. No Man’s Land. N.p.: D.D., 1980. Print.

Macdonald, Lyn, and Rob Hartmans. Somme 1916. Amsterdam: Anthos, 2008. Print.

Ferguson, Niall. The Pity of War. London: Penguin, 2006. Print.

Neillands, Robin. Attrition: The Great War on the Western Front, 1916. London: Robson, 2001. Print.

Gilbert, Martin. The First World War: A Complete History. London: Phoenix, 2008. Print.

Tuchman, Barbara W. August 1914. London: Reprint Society, 1964. Print.

Weintraub, Stanley. Silent Night: The Remarkable Christmas Truce of 1914. London: Simon & Schuster, 2014. Print.

Frandsen, Bert. Hat in the Ring: The Birth of American Air Power in the Great War. Washington, DC: Smithsonian, 2010. Print.

Hamady, Theodore. The Nieuport 28: America’s First Fighter. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Pub., 2008. Print.

Remarque, Erich Maria., and Zahid Hassan. All Quiet on the Western Front. Dhaka: Seba Prokashani, 1986. Print.

Pitt, Barrie. Coronel and Falkland:. London: Cassell Military, 2002. Print.

Bennett, Geoffrey. Naval Battles of the First World War. South Yorkshire, England: Pen and Sword Military, 2014. Print.

Massie, Robert K. Dreadnought: Britain, Germany, and the Coming of the Great War. London: Vintage, 2007. Print.

Lawrence, T. E. Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Place of Publication Not Identified: Burk Classics, 2014. Print.

Lawrence, T. E. Revolt in the Desert. Stroud: Amberley, 2014. Print.

Nicolle, David, and Richard Hook. Lawrence and the Arab Revolts: Warfare and Soldiers of the Middle East 1914-18. Oxford: Osprey, 1989. Print.


End of war books:

Bascomb, Neal. Red Mutiny: Eleven Fateful Days on the Battleship Potemkin. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2008. Print.

Stevenson, David. With Our Backs to the Wall: Victory and Defeat in 1918. Cambridge: Belknap Harvard, 2013. Print.

Persico, Joseph E. Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour Armistice Day, 1918, World War I and Its Violent Climax. New York: Random House, 2007. Print.

Hart, Peter. 1918: A Very British Victory. London: Phoenix, 2009. Print.

Catherwood, Christopher. Churchill’s Folly: How Winston Churchill Created Modern Iraq. New York: Barnes & Noble, 2007. Print.



The following are the comments that various members made about the books that were recommended.


Tim Nelson:

The Tuchman and Massie volumes are particularly outstanding. I’ve been interested in Churchill’s The World Crisis but have not yet read it (and assume it’s somewhat biased). Does anyone have any other recommendations, especially about the events of 1918?


David Dodge:

“TREAT’EM ROUGH” is a great read.  Tells how guys like Patton and Eisenhower started the Armor/ Tank Corps and all the challenges to recruit, train, and equip a tank force to fight in WWI.

The combat descriptions are pretty harrowing and sometimes very similar to what we experienced in later wars.


Russell Bucy:

Another good one, but not entirely about WWI is “The Aviators” about

Rickenbacker, Doolittle, and Lindbergh and their influence on American aviation– what’s interesting is how all three of them intersect at some time with Ernst Udet, another WWI pilot, and how WWI helped shape successive eras of aviation.  Again not specifically about WWI, but it does have impact from the Great War– “Colonel Roosevelt”. Roosevelt lost his son Quentin flying in France during WWI, and a second son who committed suicide after suffering from depression resulting from his time in combat– Teddy was never the same afterwards.  The latter part of the book covers this and the effects of the war on American politics.

Ok, not sure I how I forgot this one, and no one has yet mentioned it. It was mandatory reading at the U.S. Army School of Advanced Military Studies when I was a student there in 1998.  We can’t forget T.E. Lawrence’s first hand accounts in “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” or his more technical “Revolt in the Desert”.  I highly recommend these reads in conjunction with Osprey’s “Command Series #19, Lawrence of Arabia” for context and maps.  Lawrence’s books are a bit dry in places, but if you want some real insight into the sociological issues of the Middle East today– this is a great place to start. Plus Lawrence’s sense of humor comes through occasionally, like when he inadvertently shot his Camel in the head during the excitement of a charge, and had to continue on foot, keeping his embarrassment from his Arab allies while blaming the Turks.  These are  good reads with lots of insight into the nomadic culture of Palestine and Saudi Arabia, with additional insight into the man himself.  Then watch the not entirely accurate but well acted movie– or maybe watch the movie first.  Enjoy!


Jim Schubert:

Of all the titles suggested I would say that the books by Barbara Tuchman and Robert Massie are the most worthwhile for an overview.

Another great WW1 film is Alfred Hitchcock’s 39 Steps released in 1935 and remade, in 2008, by BBC into an even better teleplay with the same plot.  It was shown in the US, by PBS, as a Masterpiece Theater Sunday night presentation.


Morgan Girling:

“White War” provides great detail on the political background to the Italo-Austrian front, the political and military personalities, the artistic spin on it, etc. Detail on the war and the experience thereof was superficial, the maps largely useless and unrelated to the text (they certainly added no clarity to the text). So, if you want a geopolitical primer and an overview of the flow of the war, I can heartily recommend it. If you want to know about how a static war was fought in the Dolomite mountains, then like me, you will be disappointed.

“Coronel and Falkland: Two Great Naval Battles of the First World War”, Pitt, Barrie. Describes the exploits of the German commerce raiders Scharhosrt, Gneisnau and Nurnberg in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

“Naval Battles of the First World War”, Bennett, Geoffrey. Mainly about the North Sea battles, including Jutland. Good, if a bit dry at times.

“The Tsar’s Last Armada” The Epic Voyage to the Battle of Tsushima”, Pleshakoo, Constantine. Imperial Russia’s efforts to relieve Port Arthur from the Japanese. An interesting tale of duty and paranoia.

“Red Mutiny: Eleven Fateful days on the Battleship Potemkin”, Bascomb, Neal. Ever wonder what was the backstory to the cinema classic “Battleship Potemkin”? A very engaging read that filled in a lot of holes in my historical knowledge.

And finally, two movies you probably haven’t seen:

“37 Days” dramatizes the sequence of events and personalities involved in the 37 days between the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and the official start of WWI.

“Wipers Times” is a dark comedy about a squad in Ypres (variously pronounced “eeps,”, “ee-prey” or “wipers”) who discover a printing press while clearing a building and proceed to produce an underground newspaper lampooning the brass. The newspaper was immensely popular with the troops, despised by the lower brass, and loved by the upper brass, who saw it as a pressure valve that would help prevent mutiny. Sort of a WWI analog to M.A.S.H.


Will Perry:

The Guns of August – Another BIG thumbs-up.  A great read and, IMHO, a landmark work of history – It’s actually exciting!  We’ve now come to expect our histories to entertain us as we are educated, and I credit Tuchman.

Dreadnought: Britain, Germany, and the Coming of the Great War & 

Castles of Steel: Britain, Germany, and the Winning of the Great War at Sea – These’ll keep you out of the poolroom for a few days.  Massie looks at the run-up to WW I thru a naval policy lens, with the HMS Dreadnought in the starring role and also an apt metaphor for the unstoppable impending War.  The second volume takes on the Brit vs German naval war, with Jutland as the climax.  Like Tuchman, Massie entertains us with anecdotes and gossip about the main characters, I think a bit too frivolous at times – do we really need to hear Beatty’s naughty bedroom poetry?



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