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Summary

It was to be the war to end all wars, and it began at 11:15 on the morning of June 28, 1914, in an outpost of the Austro-Hungarian Empire called Sarajevo. It would officially end nearly five years later. Unofficially, however, it has never ended: Many of the horrors we live with today are rooted in the First World War.

The Great War left millions of civilians and soldiers maimed or dead. It also saw the creation of new technologies of destruction: tanks, planes, and submarines; machine guns and field artillery; poison gas and chemical warfare. It introduced U-boat packs and strategic bombing, unrestricted war on civilians and mistreatment of prisoners. But the war changed our world in far more fundamental ways than these.

In its wake, empires toppled, monarchies fell, and whole populations lost their national identities. As political systems and geographic boundaries were realigned, the social order shifted seismically. Manners and cultural norms; literature and the arts; education and class distinctions; all underwent a vast sea change.

©1994 Martin Gilbert (P)2020 Tantor

What listeners say about The First World War

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Awful narrator

Good book ruined by a boring, uninteresting sounding narrator. A real shame as Martin Gilbert is a great author.

12 people found this helpful

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A fine book spoilt by a poor narrator!

A fine book by a great historian. Although Mr Clark’s delivery leaves much to be desired, his biggest fault is his mispronunciation of the names of places, battles and people! How is it that his efforts were not checked by someone with even an elementary knowledge of the history being mangled. Sir Martin must be appalled?

6 people found this helpful

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A great overview of WW1

This is an excellent overview of how the world fell into war in 1914 and of the conflict that followed. Martin Gilbert is a renowned historian and brings his immense gifts to bear on this dreadful conflict. It's good to hear about events in some of the less well-known theatres of the conflict, such as Serbia and the Middle East.

Unfortunately the narrator doesn't do the book justice. He has a deep, sombre voice, which is a bit too funereal for my liking. But where he really falls down is in his eccentric pronunciation. Examples: 'Ultimatum' pronounced ultimahtum; 'Haig' is pronounced Heyeg. He pronounced 2d (tuppence) as two-dee. It's not ruinous, but it does jar from time to time. There are other examples.

A great book spoiled by poor narration.

4 people found this helpful

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  • PD
  • 03-09-20

Ruined by the Narrator!

It's already been said been said, but for me, to pronounce Sir Douglas Haig, High-g and Ferdinand Foch, Fock is completely unforgivable.

A real shame.

4 people found this helpful

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An excellent book with a sub-par narrator.

This book doesn’t really warrant much comment: it’s a well known and informative work referenced by historians to this day. The narrator however makes me with they’d asked me. I’d have done it for free and would have pronounced the people and places correctly! The divide between simple words he mispronounces and relatively obscure foreign words or place names that he gets correct is perplexing. (It’s Haig, as in Hey-g! Not High-g!)

3 people found this helpful

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Excellent story, lousy reader

Excellent story, well researched and put together but the narrators constantly mispronounced names of well known figures I found grating.

2 people found this helpful

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Absolutely brilliant listening

Loved it, its the ultimate comprehensive history of the first world war, narrator is exceptional loved all 30+ hours of it.

2 people found this helpful

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Substandard Narrator

I agree with previous comments. Gilbert’s book on WW1 is an absolute classic and worthy of a far better rendition than this funerial, over-pompous, apparently sedated presentation. You really must take a stricter view on this aspect - awful! That said, the book is such well-written history that it survives even your deplorable version.

1 person found this helpful

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Listened at 1.5 speed

The reader had to be sped up whlle the pronunciation of many key words was bizarre...

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Educational if...

It achieved my goal to learn more about the subject but the need to constantly interpret the narrators pronouniation is infuriating and caused me to rewind several times to avoid missing interesting points. If you have little pacience, listening to 30 hours of this is infuriating.

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  • troy a myers
  • 27-07-20

Unbiased true facts of the first world war

I found this book truly enlightening. Being an American marine corps veteran and seeking to understand the causes of war i found this book very educational. The history of the tragedies of Europe have helped me identify why Americans aren’t able to fully understand the cost of war. And the causes of current strife

9 people found this helpful

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  • Joseph
  • 03-08-20

The narative was excellent, the performer was just

Mr. Gilbert's narrative starts a bit slow but soon builds into a well researched history. I especially appreciated the increased detail on the participation of the United States military and the relationships between Petan, Haig and, Pershing.

Mr. Clark's narration leaves something to be desired. His frequent use of alternative pronunciations for many people and place names is unsettling. I'm not sure who may be responsible for preparing the pronunciation key for the narrator needs to do a better job. The Russian city is spelled Archangel NOT Archangle.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Christian P.
  • 11-02-21

Good book, poor narrator

It is an otherwise good book dragged down by a really boring and dry narration.

4 people found this helpful

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  • JOHN M SNARSKI
  • 23-10-20

Good perspective history, terrible narrator

This huge story is thoughtfully told by Martin Gilbert and keeps your interest with a combination of grand strategic military topics and personal stories.

The narrator seems determined to mispronounce as many names as he can. Foch, Haig, Archangel and Cavell are just a few. Just occasionally he drops his pompous mispronunciations and uses the correct pronunciation. This is a small issue but it becomes very annoying over the 33 1/2 hours of listening.

3 people found this helpful

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  • john w.
  • 14-07-21

great 👍

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

2 people found this helpful

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  • James Wilson
  • 11-07-21

Good history, but too many individual stories

I was new to WWI history and this book definitely gave the broad overview I was looking for. My only complaint is that there are too many stories and poems about individual people. The author warns in the beginning that he will do this, so it's hard to complain too much, but the book could probably be 2 hours shorter just by cutting out all the poem and letter excerpts. It is also very much the Allied's history of the war, so it doesn't offer much to those looking for more insight about German and Austro-Hungarian perspectives.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Nicholas
  • 06-12-20

Must-listen for history buffs

Martin Gilbert's work is remarkable in his ability to be comprehensive on the macro scale but never more than a couple sentences from weaving in the lived experiences of soldiers and civilians on the ground collected from countless diaries and interviews. You *feel* this war alongside understanding it. A master work.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 30-12-20

way too much english bias.not a good read

the narrator was great.the book itself stank.entirely too much "england is great"sentiment that isnt deserved.england could have done way more to stop this and didnt and at versailles the allies could have prevented hitlers rise by not being short sighted and selfish.the allies really dropped a lot of balls before and after the war

1 person found this helpful

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  • Ed Mueller
  • 23-11-21

I found this book to be very informative about WWI

I found this book very informative about the preyloud to WWII also great book

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  • Jesse B Lawson
  • 21-09-21

Thoroughly explained.

Undoubtedly the most thorough accounting of WW1 ever put to paper. Can be tedious at times but well done nonetheless.