Recommended reading on the First World War

Discussions on all aspects of the First World War not covered in the other sections. Hosted by Terry Duncan.
Plain Old Dave
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Re: Recommended reading on the First World War

Post by Plain Old Dave » 08 Oct 2018 22:45

Mosier's "Myth of the Great War"

Wawro's "Sons of Freedom"

Studs Terkel's "Make the Kaiser Dance"

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Re: Recommended reading on the First World War

Post by Terry Duncan » 09 Oct 2018 14:33

Plain Old Dave wrote:
08 Oct 2018 22:45
Mosier's "Myth of the Great War"

Wawro's "Sons of Freedom"

Studs Terkel's "Make the Kaiser Dance"
Any chance you could give a little more detail as to why you feel these books are to be recommended to people, especially as at least one of these books is considered 'controversial' as to its approach? This is not a thread for discussion, but the conncept behind it was to offer books and give reasons for doing so as Marcus stated;
Marcus wrote:
10 Dec 2006 11:38
The idea of this sticky is to collect recommendations on good books dealing with the First World War.

Please post the title, author and a short (or long) explanation as to why you feel that particular title deserves to be included.

/Marcus

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Re: Recommended reading on the First World War

Post by Plain Old Dave » 09 Oct 2018 16:29

Mosier's "Myth of the Great War"

Boldly rejects a century of revisionism, predicted in an American staff report I have alluded to previously.

Wawro's "Sons of Freedom"

Mosier in more detail. Again, a rejection of the century long Eurocentric conspiracy to marginalize the accomplishments of the AEF, aided and abetted by a generation of 1960s radicals that never miss a chance to bash America.

This morning's reading:
With the US First Army occupying both banks of the Meuse and commanding the rails at Sedan and the US 2d Army scheduled to attack Metz on November 14, Hindenburg had no means to reinforce, withdraw, or provision his army in France. The Doughboys won the war by surrounding the German Army in France and compelling its surrender.

Studs Terkel's "Make the Kaiser Dance"

Terkel is one of the finest oral historians to publish. Inspirational, informative and educational. Everything a goodhistory should be.
Last edited by Plain Old Dave on 09 Oct 2018 18:04, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Recommended reading on the First World War

Post by The Ibis » 09 Oct 2018 17:31

Plain Old Dave wrote:
09 Oct 2018 16:29


This morning's reading:
With the US First Army occupying both banks of the Meuse and commanding the rails at Sedan and the US 2d Army scheduled to attack Metz on November 14, Hindenburg had no means to reinforce, withdraw, or provision his army in France. The Doughboys won the war by surrounding the German Army in France and compelling its surrender.
I sure hope there is some context that you've omitted. The US Army held approximately 1/3 of the front on 11 November and last I looked at a map, the Germans weren't surrounded at all! I'm not diminishing the impact of the potential loss of the rail net (it would have been catastrophic for the Germans had they continued the war), but it doesn't support this conclusion.

What's more, the offensive planned for 14 November was to be an ALLIED offensive where the French Tenth Army under Charles Mangin would make the major effort and US Second Army would be in support.
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Re: Recommended reading on the First World War

Post by Plain Old Dave » 09 Oct 2018 21:14


Hindenburg had no means to reinforce, withdraw, or provision his army in France.


Emphasis added. Their sole avenue of retreat was cut off, and Hindenburg couldn't reinforce them.

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Re: Recommended reading on the First World War

Post by The Ibis » 09 Oct 2018 21:53

Plain Old Dave wrote:
09 Oct 2018 21:14

Hindenburg had no means to reinforce, withdraw, or provision his army in France.


Emphasis added. Their sole avenue of retreat was cut off, and Hindenburg couldn't reinforce them.
That is an overstatement. There were two main rail lines supplying the German army and the BEF was primarily responsible for overtaking the northern one. Further, the Meuse Argonne was an ALLIED battle and the Americans didn't win it by themselves.

Further still, the Germans could always flee on foot and by horse (assuming that the will to do so existed - another question). They were not cut off. Did Wawro not include a map? Even Wiki has one.
Last edited by The Ibis on 09 Oct 2018 23:40, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Recommended reading on the First World War

Post by Plain Old Dave » 09 Oct 2018 22:10

Getting off topic here. The German situation in November 1918 was untenable, almost exclusively due to the AEF. The French, like McClellan a generation before, had "a case of the slows" and the British had become experienced at slaughtering troops for little if any real benefit at the Somme and Paschendale. Wawro is clear on this. The Germans could not retreat, they could not be resupplied, they could not advance. The difference between this situation and surrounded is one of semantics. Unless, of course, half a million German soldiers are expected to carry all the Army's equipment cross country by hand. And given the disintegration of German society the Argonne offensive started, many if not most of the Army from France would in all probability went considerably for the Sparticists, making an armistice or peace impossible.

Let's return this thread to its purpose before anonymous admins get offended. This might be an interesting What If thread

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Re: Recommended reading on the First World War

Post by MarkN » 09 Oct 2018 23:28

My underlining...
Plain Old Dave wrote:
09 Oct 2018 16:29
Wawro's "Sons of Freedom"

Again, a rejection of the century long Eurocentric conspiracy to marginalize the accomplishments of the AEF, aided and abetted by a generation of 1960s radicals that never miss a chance to bash America.

This morning's reading:
With the US First Army occupying both banks of the Meuse and commanding the rails at Sedan and the US 2d Army scheduled to attack Metz on November 14, Hindenburg had no means to reinforce, withdraw, or provision his army in France. The Doughboys won the war by surrounding the German Army in France and compelling its surrender.
Is that really the words of Wawro? If so, sounds like a book not to be touched with a barge pole.

"The Doughboys won the war by surrounding the German Army in France and compelling its surrender."??? That's like saying East Tennessee (and the rest of the USA) is surrounded by North Carolina if a semi overturns, blocks and closes the I40 over the Clinch River!!!! No escape! We're doomed! Break open the doomesday prepper box.....

It's geographically challenged reasoning of the Plain Old Daft!

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Re: Recommended reading on the First World War

Post by The Ibis » 12 Oct 2018 18:35

Currently reading "Managing deadlock: organisational development in the British First Army, 1915" by Emir Watt. It's his PhD thesis. Here is the abstract:
In terms of the British Army in the Great War, the study of whether or how the army learned has become the dominant historiographical theme in the past thirty years. Previous studies have often viewed learning and institutional change through the lens of the ‘learning curve’, a concept which emphasises that the high command of the British Army learned to win the war through a combination of trial and error in battle planning, and through careful consideration of their collective and individual experiences. This thesis demonstrates that in order to understand the complexities of institutional change in the Great War, we must look beyond ill-defined concepts such as the learning curve and adopt a more rigid framework. This thesis examines institutional change in the British First Army in the 1915 campaign on the western front. It applies concepts more commonly found in business studies, such as organisational culture, knowledge management and organisational memory, to understand how the First Army developed as an institution in 1915. It presents a five-stage model – termed the Organisational Development Model – which demonstrates how the high command of the First Army considered their experiences and changed their operational practices in response. This thesis finds that the ‘war managers’ decision-making was affected by a number of institutional and personal ‘inputs’ which shaped their approach to understanding warfare. This thesis examines the manner in which new knowledge was created and collated in the immediate post-battle period, before studying how the war managers considered new information, disseminated it across the force and institutionalised it in the organisation’s formal practices, structures and routines. In a broad sense, this thesis does three things. First, by examining how the army learned it moves beyond standard narratives of learning in the British Army in the Great War and highlights the complex interplay between personal and institutional learning processes. Second, by focusing on institutional change in the 1915 campaign, it sheds new light on an understudied yet crucial part of the British war experience. Finally, in creating the Organisational Development Model, it provides a robust platform on which future research can be built.
And its availalbe online at the Edinburgh Research Archive: https://www.era.lib.ed.ac.uk/handle/1842/31530
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Re: Recommended reading on the First World War

Post by cjareck » 27 Nov 2018 17:58

I hope you will forgive me self-promotion, but recently my article about the successful breakthrough at Gorlice with a small comparison to the western front has been published. Since it is available freely online, maybe someone will find it interesting. It is, of course, written in English. Better one than this post ;)
https://www.academia.edu/37824746/The_r ... at_Gorlice
I will be grateful for feedback, not necessarily a positive one.
Sorry for my English ;)
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Attrition
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Re: Recommended reading on the First World War

Post by Attrition » 27 Nov 2018 19:41

Congratulations, I'll give it a go. How did you define "breakthrough"?

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Re: Recommended reading on the First World War

Post by The Ibis » 27 Nov 2018 20:25

cjareck wrote:
27 Nov 2018 17:58
I hope you will forgive me self-promotion, but recently my article about the successful breakthrough at Gorlice with a small comparison to the western front has been published. Since it is available freely online, maybe someone will find it interesting. It is, of course, written in English. Better one than this post ;)
https://www.academia.edu/37824746/The_r ... at_Gorlice
I will be grateful for feedback, not necessarily a positive one.
Thanks for sharing this. I look forward to reading it.
"The secret of managing is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who are undecided." - Casey Stengel

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Re: Recommended reading on the First World War

Post by cjareck » 27 Nov 2018 22:41

Attrition wrote:
27 Nov 2018 19:41
How did you define "breakthrough"?
Good question! We didn't define it. We just took over the German terminology from the interwar period ("Durchbruchsschlacht" or "Durchbruch bei Gorlice"). It surely wasn't "breakthrough" in the style of German blitzkrieg campaigns. It was something like capturing the enemy's line of defence not making a hole in his front and pushing some fast units into it.
But if you read published Russian documents, some units lost connection to its neighbours during the battle. But the Germans and Austro-Hungarians were not used to exploiting it and making raids into enemy's rear. They always kept the contact with their neighbours even if that meant to slow down or even stop the advance.
Sorry for my English ;)
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Re: Recommended reading on the First World War

Post by Attrition » 28 Nov 2018 18:04

Thanks

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Re: Recommended reading on the First World War

Post by The Ibis » 21 Jan 2019 20:28

Just starting Dual Mindset Theory and the Psychology of Europe’s Descent into the First World War by Mara Tchalakov. Its a PhD thesis from 2017 that seems interesting. Unfortunately, the thesis was released before Zametica's work was published, so some of the Austro-Hungarian material might need supplementation. Anyway, here is the abstract:
Discrepancies in how leaders and political elites react to the escalation of international crises and to the possibility of war, even when confronted with the same or similar international constraints and decision-making dilemmas, is a puzzling phenomenon not comfortably accounted for by either traditional rational actor or earlier ‘cognitive miser’ psycho-dynamic models. A new psychological theory — the dual mindset theory — suggests that the mindsets of individual leaders act as an intervening variable that can help to account for these puzzling discrepancies and, thereby, to explain certain historical paradoxes as they concern variation in war and peace outcomes in international affairs.

According to the dual mindset theory, individual mindsets can be broadly categorised into two basic types: reflexive and reflective. The dominance of a reflexive mindset implies the rapid operation of intuitive, and often emotional, thought processes that are automatically performed as a reflex, or without much conscious thought. By contrast, the dominance of a reflective mindset implies the application of conscious, effortful deliberations that attempt to restrain the impulsive and rapid thought processes of the former without getting rid of them altogether. As they relate to decisionmaking in international relations, reflexive mindsets are hypothesised to increase the probability of aggression and conflict breaking out, while reflective mindsets are hypothesised to reduce this probability.

Our dual mindsets are hypothesised to originate from two very different but interconnected systems of the human brain that provide the foundation for all human reasoning. These systems have been variously labelled as ‘Systems 1 and 2’, ‘automatic and effortful reasoning’ and, more popularly, ‘blinking and thinking’. These mindsets, and the dual systems of the brain from which they originate, are proposed to contribute to the observed variation in war and peace outcomes in international relations through the influence of three causal mechanisms: sensitivity to threats, propensity for risk and temporal discounting. The dual mindset theory is applied to the historical puzzle of why the First World War broke out when it did in the summer of 1914, during a relatively calm period of European politics, and not in response to earlier pre-war crises, in particular the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913, when the European continent appeared to be on the brink of conflict.
And here is a link if you want to read it: https://ora.ox.ac.uk/objects/uuid:3a7d6 ... 578b803d2a
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