THE WESTERN FRONT
A history of the First World War
657pp. Viking. 25 [pounds sterling].
There was more to the First World War than the Western Front. During the centenary years of 2014-18, many historians attempted to point out this out to the wider public, with patchy results. The trenches in France and Flanders continue to dominate the British public memory of 1914-18. This means that Nick Lloyd's new book, the first of a trilogy on the war, is likely to find a receptive readership.
Lloyd sets out his stall early on. This book is an unabashed "narrative history". He has deliberately avoided "abstract theorising or lengthy commentaries on differing interpretations". Instead he has told a story, inviting readers to "form their own judgements". This is a distinct change of direction for an author whose three previous books on Western Front battles--Loos (1915), Passchendaele (1917) and the Hundred Days (1918)--were analytical and thesis-driven. This time, Lloyd has written a very different sort of book. There are perfectly good and understandable reasons for this, including the opportunity to connect with a non-specialist audience. Nonetheless, it does mean that The Western...