November 11 is Armistice Day, A.K.A Veteran’s day. Armistice Day refers to the Armistice signed by the Allies of World War I and Germany that brought about the cessation of armed combat on the Western Front. The Armistice took place at eleven o’clock on the eleventh day of the eleventh month. In remembrance of Armistice Day, I offer five books about World War I.
The Guns of August by Barbara W. Tuchman
The Guns of August is must reading for anyone that loves history and World War I history in particular. This book won the Pulitzer Prize, and was the first book historian Barbara W. Tuchman wrote. It traces the first month of the war beginning with the funeral of Edward VII. Ms. Tuchman traced each step that inevitably led to the outbreak of World War I.
The First World War by John Keegan
John Keegan’s The First World War should be required reading for anyone wanting to know about World War I from the first incident to the final shot fired. Aside from his fantastic narrative of the subject, Mr. Keegan also gives analysis of the military conflict, as well as re-creating the engagements that have become legend: Verdun, the Somme and Gallipoli among them. As if that was not enough, he also inter weaves the human element, from the leaders, to the military commanders, to the common soldier on the field.
Verdun: The Lost History of the Most Important Battle of World War I by John Mosier
John Mosier shows us why the Battle of Verdun was the most important battle of World War I. History tells us that the battle of Verdun lasted from February 1916 until December of that year. John Mosier shows us that there were eight separate battles for Verdun that lasted until Armistice was declared in 1918. Employing accounts from military analysts, serving officers and witnesses, John Mosier offers a compelling argument to make his point.
Eleventh Month Eleventh Day Eleventh Hour: Armistice Day 1918: World War I and Its Violent Climax by Joseph E. Persico
Armistice was going to be declared on the November 11 at eleven o’clock a.m. The military leaders knew this, and were willing to not fight leading up to that hour. Joseph E. Persico shows us that was not the case. To the bewilderment of field commanders, orders were given to continue fighting right up to the moment that Armistice was to go in effect. This book is a must read for anyone interested in what happened in the final day of World War I.
To the Last Man: A Novel of World War I by Jeff Shaara.
It may seem counter intuitive to include a novel in this list of book about World War I, but Jeff Shaara is no mere novelist. The reason Mr. Shaara gives for calling his books novels is because there are certain areas of speculation that he does not know from research. These are trivial aspects of the account. Otherwise, his history is on point, and he even makes history entertaining. It is hard to believe that such a feat is possible, but in his capable hands, history comes alive!