The First World War by John Keegan


Inquiring the obscurity of how an evolution at the height of its accomplishment could have driven itself into such a disastrous conflict. In this book, the author details the happenings of the talks among Europe’s crowned ministers and heads of states, and their fated efforts to resolve the catastrophe. Keegan shows how, by an astounding failure of communication and diplomacy, a joint dispute grew to overwhelm a whole continent.

The emphasis on Keegan’s book is, of course, his study of the military disagreements. With uneven insight and authority, Keegan restores the terrifying engagements whose names later became the Somme, legend–Verdun, and Gallipoli among them and sheds some new light on the plans and approaches applied, mainly the roles of technology and geography. The human aspect is also one of the main things that are observed in this narrative.


In the book the author acquaints us with the ideas of the captivating personalities who happened to oversee the terribly unnecessary disaster. The author also sets aside his most touching personal empathy for those whose personal efforts were not recorded also know as the “the anonymous millions”.


Keegan centers the logical structure of The First World War on the upshots that mass transportation and military science wrought on the world. All through his narrative, the war’s key components, e.g., the submarine, the railroad, the portable howitzer cannon, and airborne warfare are interjected with the political flickers that set each nation as well as the continent itself, on fire. (pg, 25-33).

Therefore, the conflict’s outrider was the creation of academies which are known as the peacetime war academies. These academies turned out notional officers and mediators who designed conceptual war plans that for the very first time took the advantage of transportation advances. The author also views the Schlieffen plan as the essence of the European war school syndrome. the Schlieffen Plan was not only the spine of Germany’s offensive approaches in both the western and eastern fronts, but it also gave out the larger tactical move that allowed German military generals such as Moltke to persuade government officers to rely entirely on its inevitable though faulty logic.(pg, 153-165).

The question is what were those government leaders to think of inert numbers and figures that had never before described a war? Prior to World war one, strategies were designed on the hoof, with some plans defined slackly as an aim to be taken contrasting to a precise schedule and approach on which to stick to. Keegan remarkably tries to sort through the many insinuations of this question. There were those government envoys who did not completely comprehend the obstinate nature of their national security plans when they were given to them since they were altogether bared from peacetime policy. (pg, 142).

Such bottlenecks in concert with communiqué technology surpassed by the advances that were made by its military complements allowed military generals such as Conrad von Hotzendorf and Joffre Haig to carry out the seemingly sinister orders that sent many combatants/soldiers to absurd death in Somme, Gallipoli, and Passchendaele. In his book Keegan depicts the absurdity of the state of affairs best when he states, “while the Kaiser unaided might have set brakes to the unalterable series of the Schlieffen Plan, [the Kaiser] realized he did not know the mechanism he was expected to control, dreaded and let a piece of paper decide the events.”(Pg, 188).

It should be noted that the book “The First World War” takes every prospect to remind the human race that the War did not formally start not until thirty-five days after the murder of Franz Ferdinand who happened to be the nephew to the royal leader Franz Josef. Keegan’s keenness to paint a milieu to the strategy, scenery and the downfall, prior to the ultimate redemption of the world war one strategists, offers useful outlooks when digesting the aspects of world war one’s military actions. (pg, 288-295).

All through the pages of the book “The First World War” the readers are exposed to the author’s legacy that brings together the uneasy pull of unfeasible conditions with the toil and the human sacrifice that embraced the First World War With the trenches and reeks in our nostrils, we tend to applaud on the battle exhausted soldiers who threw their weapons in aggravation, disobeying not just their senior officers, but also their lords and kings, as well as the notion of patriotism itself. It’s obvious that history shows that patriotism would soon again snatch Europe in a loss grip and thus dragging the world into war once again. (Pg, 402-415)


It is viewed that Keegan is not oblivious to the link between patriotism and World War One. The know-how gained by investigating the world war one, allows him to connect the causes and implications of the war with exciting ease. In this book “The First World War”, the person who reads it is on no account drowned by excess plans, terms, or even information. Instead, the author (Keegan) takes the reader on a balanced and an even-paced journey that draws the person who reads through each transitory page just like a spiky needle through prim cotton.

Work Cited

John Keegan. The First World War. Vintage Books, New York, 2000.

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