Review: World War I by DK Eyewitness

DK Eyewitness - World War I

This review comes after having read The Assassination of the Archduke, which was about Franz Ferdinand and Sophie Chotek and their moving lives (the review will be published around 26th September, 2013 – its publication date). I always stumbled upon material of World War II more often than of World War I. This is probably because photography and video techniques had evolved in twenty years since the end of the first one, and also because the horrors of the second one are graver with anti-heroes like Hitler having been portrayed in so many movies. Even documentaries are hard to find about the First World War. DK Eyewitness (Dorling Kindersley) books are atypical in the sense that they are much more visual than textual and may appeal to kids more than grownups. However, they also serve as excellent sources of rare and memorable photographs. They may not satiate the hunger for a deep driven analysis, but surely serve as good works for a quick overview of themes placed along with stunning captures.

‘World War I’ has been written by Simon Adams, photographs have been by Andy Crawford with association of London’s Imperial War Museum. The book begins with the various divisions in Europe which threaten the fragile peace every moment. The assassination of the archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie Chotek triggers the stat of the war with Austria-Hungary attacking Serbia, and having Germany on its side. They with Ottoman Empire form the core of the Central Powers, while Russia, France, UK and later USA form the core of the Allies. The book and the remarkable photographs focus more on the military side than the political one. The photos include: the mobilisation posters of Germany, France, Britain and the USA; the various equipments and toiletries a soldier used to carry; the equipment used to dig out trenches which protected the soldiers from artillery and shelling; life spent living inside trenches; guns, tanks, shells, airplanes and even ships which took part in the war – just about everything is in there.

The important role which women played by supporting the effort and the economies of their countries is not left untouched – few photos of women working in factories and some even on the front serve as a grim reminder of the brutality of wars. The battles covered are of: Somme, Verdun, Gallipoli, the Eastern Front between Russia and the Central Powers. As colonialism was widely spread in that period, the involvement of the colonial subjects was no less. The spreading of the war effort in the Middle East (most of which was under the Ottoman Empire) and the resulting divisions is an epic tale. The use of pigeons and traders for espionage underlines how ends were supposed to justify the means in a world where life had little value. The entry of the United States and weakening of the German forces ultimately led to the end of the war at “11 am on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. The photographs surrounding the Treaty of Versailles and of noteworthy leaders like Woodrow Wilson, Vladimir Lenin, Georges Clemenceau, General Foch, David Lloyd George, Vittorio Orlando signaled the victory of the Allies over the Central Powers, remembered by countless cemeteries, memorials and museums built around the world.

This short book, as stated earlier, will not give you an in-depth look at the war, its politics and power-games, but will surely get you interested and initiated, if aren’t already, into the fabulous world of history.

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