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As first lord of the admiralty and minister for war and air, Churchill stood resolute at the center of international affairs. In this classic account, he dramatically details how the tides of despair and triumph flowed and ebbed as the political and military leaders of the time navigated the dangerous currents of world conflict. Churchill vividly recounts the major campaign As first lord of the admiralty and minister for war and air, Churchill stood resolute at the center of international affairs. In this classic account, he dramatically details how the tides of despair and triumph flowed and ebbed as the political and military leaders of the time navigated the dangerous currents of world conflict. Churchill vividly recounts the major campaigns that shaped the war: the furious attacks of the Marne, the naval maneuvers off Jutland, Verdun's “soul-stirring frenzy,” and the surprising victory of Chemins des Dames. Here, too, he re-creates the dawn of modern warfare: the buzz of airplanes overhead, trench combat, artillery thunder, and the threat of chemical warfare. In Churchill's inimitable voice we hear how “the war to end all wars” instead gave birth to every war that would follow, including the current war in Iraq. Written with unprecedented flair and knowledge of the events, The World Crisis remains the single greatest history of World War I, essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand the twentieth century.


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As first lord of the admiralty and minister for war and air, Churchill stood resolute at the center of international affairs. In this classic account, he dramatically details how the tides of despair and triumph flowed and ebbed as the political and military leaders of the time navigated the dangerous currents of world conflict. Churchill vividly recounts the major campaign As first lord of the admiralty and minister for war and air, Churchill stood resolute at the center of international affairs. In this classic account, he dramatically details how the tides of despair and triumph flowed and ebbed as the political and military leaders of the time navigated the dangerous currents of world conflict. Churchill vividly recounts the major campaigns that shaped the war: the furious attacks of the Marne, the naval maneuvers off Jutland, Verdun's “soul-stirring frenzy,” and the surprising victory of Chemins des Dames. Here, too, he re-creates the dawn of modern warfare: the buzz of airplanes overhead, trench combat, artillery thunder, and the threat of chemical warfare. In Churchill's inimitable voice we hear how “the war to end all wars” instead gave birth to every war that would follow, including the current war in Iraq. Written with unprecedented flair and knowledge of the events, The World Crisis remains the single greatest history of World War I, essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand the twentieth century.

30 review for The World Crisis, 1911-1918

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Nobel Week is approaching fast, and there is a unique literature laureate waiting impatiently for me to give him credit for his opus magnum. Dear Mr Churchill, it took me years to read your book, please bear with me while I collect my thoughts for a moment at least. What can be said of this brick of a book, telling the story of the World Crisis, culminating in the Great War 1914-1918, as perceived by one of its witnesses and active participants? Is it biased? Yes, massively! Are there inaccuracies? Nobel Week is approaching fast, and there is a unique literature laureate waiting impatiently for me to give him credit for his opus magnum. Dear Mr Churchill, it took me years to read your book, please bear with me while I collect my thoughts for a moment at least. What can be said of this brick of a book, telling the story of the World Crisis, culminating in the Great War 1914-1918, as perceived by one of its witnesses and active participants? Is it biased? Yes, massively! Are there inaccuracies? Probably, but I will leave it to other petty historians to find them and fill their dissertations with the stuff that Churchill got wrong. Is it hard to read? Yes, there is a whole lot of detail, referring to military, technical and political specifics, that need checking and rereading. I spent many, many hours over maps and other history books. Is it boring? No! Not once! I have read hundreds of history books, and many of them I have skimmed through or read certain parts of, but I read every single word of this 1000-page heavyweight. Why? Because Winston Churchill is a storyteller and a politician and a bundle of energy and a brilliant analyst, all in one person. And a fallible, biased human being as well. What he DID fills more than one life, but then he sat down and reflected on it, and wrote this, and published it - in 1930! There was so much more to come, and he had already achieved more than most people, and done so in outstanding, beautiful prose! My copy of this book is falling apart. The spine is broken and it carries traces of the many places I have taken it. I spilled coffee on the "Abandonment of the Dardanelles", and I ate an orange on "The Ruin of the Balkans". I managed to move twice between "Preface" and "Victory", and I probably read three other books on the first World War in between as well. It DID take me some time. When I reread the opening sentences now, after all that time, I feel a shiver down my spine, considering where Churchill started his historical path, where he was standing when he wrote those words (in 1930), and where he was heading: "It was the custom in the palmy day of Queen Victoria for statesmen to expatiate on the glories of the British Empire, and to rejoice in that protecting Providence which had preserved us through so many dangers and brought us at length into a secure and prosperous age. Little did they know that the worst perils had still to be encountered and that the greatest triumphs were yet to be won." When I think of that society, I think of Virginia Woolf's The Voyage Out or Somerset Maugham's Of Human Bondage, both published in 1915, at the beginning of the war. And I see them before me, changed forever by that hiatus which is the topic of Churchill's life and writing. I see them change in the way Kipling changed when he lost his son, mourning not only a child, but a whole world, brilliantly dramatised in My Boy Jack. I see the hope and glory of millions of soldiers shatter and crumble in the face of poison gas, forever made tangible in The Poems Of Wilfred Owen. This generation set out with the mindset of "Dulce Et Decorum Est Pro Patria Mori", only to call it an old lie in 1918. And still, there was worse to come. After following Churchill's fabulous recapitulation of "the war to end all wars", we read his conclusion with a shudder: "The curtain falls upon the long front in France and Flanders. [...] Is this the end? Is it to be merely a chapter in a cruel and senseless story? Will a new generation in their turn be immolated to square the black accounts of Teuton and Gaul? Will our children bleed and gasp again in devastated lands? Or will there spring from the very fires of conflict that reconciliation of the three giant combatants, which unite their genius and secure to each in safety and freedom a share in rebuilding the glory of Europe?" Here ends Churchill's account of World War I, published in 1930. He would write another opus, published in 1948, on the continued European crisis, when he could see an Iron Curtain separating Europe. What would he think of our world today? Of Britain's place in Europe, and its choices? Of international developments and internal conflicts? Of the immense destructive powers in the hands of people with the mental capacities of Kaiser Wilhelm II? What would Churchill's take on the world of today be? I don't know. Just like Churchill did not foresee the future in 1930, we can't see what is in store for us, but one thing is clear: if we do not learn from the past, the future will not be bright. Churchill's THE SECOND WORLD WAR: Abridged Edition with an Epilogue on the Years 1945 to 1957, which is up next as my long term reading project, starts with a quote: "One day president Roosevelt told me that he was asking publicly for suggestions about what the war should be called. I said at once 'the Unnecessary War'. There never was a war more easy to stop than that which has just wrecked what was left of the world from the previous struggle". Those are the saddest words I can imagine!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mikey B.

    Extremely well written with very logical explanations from the fated Dardanelles expedition to the technicalities of submarine warfare. There are many passages that simply sparkle with Churchillian language and rhetoric. The strongest passages are when Churchill describes the broad outlines of the war like the shaky alliance with Russia and Italy. He also shows an excellent grasp of the overall European scope of the war – something that would serve him well in the coming years. He is not solely c Extremely well written with very logical explanations from the fated Dardanelles expedition to the technicalities of submarine warfare. There are many passages that simply sparkle with Churchillian language and rhetoric. The strongest passages are when Churchill describes the broad outlines of the war like the shaky alliance with Russia and Italy. He also shows an excellent grasp of the overall European scope of the war – something that would serve him well in the coming years. He is not solely concerned with the Western Front in France and hardly sees it as the only facet of the World War. He saw this front primarily as a stalemate with both sides bleeding themselves to death. But at times the book focuses only on Mr. Churchill’s perspective of the war. For much of the war he was head of the Admiralty until the Dardanelles. He speaks volumes on the English government role and its procrastination during the war, but little is said of the French government. Clemenceau gets only a few scattered lines here and there. Surely this great historical figure merits more. There are several pages on Lord Fisher for instance. There are some who compare this work favourably to his monumental Memoirs on the Second World War. I cannot agree. The ‘World Crisis’ is more autobiographical (I suppose due to the limited role of Mr. Churchill) and has a narrower perspective. If Mr. Churchill had not attained immortal fame (and that would have been tragic indeed) during the Second World War, I do not believe this work would merit much attention today – except perhaps as a personal view of one of the many players of ‘The Great War’.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rick

    “The World Crisis” by Winston Churchill is a masterwork on World War I…this tome being a one volume abridgement of his five volume composition. While at times the narrative comes off as “I Told You So” it is very hard to argue long with someone who writes with firsthand knowledge of the subject. He was there and he was part of it. I enjoyed Churchill’s six volume work on World War II (5 stars) a bit more – maybe because of how his writing evolved. In his WWI opus he is an important cog in the wa “The World Crisis” by Winston Churchill is a masterwork on World War I…this tome being a one volume abridgement of his five volume composition. While at times the narrative comes off as “I Told You So” it is very hard to argue long with someone who writes with firsthand knowledge of the subject. He was there and he was part of it. I enjoyed Churchill’s six volume work on World War II (5 stars) a bit more – maybe because of how his writing evolved. In his WWI opus he is an important cog in the war machinery but still a very ambitious man (the five volumes were released between 1923 and 1931 when he was 49 to 57 years old)…while in his WWII work he had already achieved greatness, had nothing more to prove, and could write with more clarity (the six volumes were released between 1948 and 1953 when he was 74 to 79 years old). To put it another way, in the WWI effort (before he ever rose to Prime Minister) Churchill continues to remind the reader of how important he was, but he had no need to do so in his WWII tour de force after he had achieved everything he wanted. Overall this work focuses a bit more on the British naval activities rather than the allied army movements. While army actions are of course summarized, analysis of the naval activities in which Churchill had a direct impact is more detailed and insightful. The narrative is in three parts: Part I (1911-1914) is a masterful account of how the world powers edged their way into a global conflict; Part II (1915) is chiefly a detailed review of the Dardanelles/Gallipoli fiasco; Part III (1916-1918) returns to the telling of naval and army undertakings through the end of the war. All in all, the reader will see how Churchill essentially “went to school” during WWI, and garnered experience that would be of great benefit in WWII. For The World Crisis, if you are looking for detailed movements of the allied armies…you’ll have to look elsewhere. If you want a sketch of what went on with a bit more detail in the naval events, this is your book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    It is the one hundredth anniversary of World War One and I have been busy reading the newly published works on the subject. I thought I should go into my own library and re-read Winston Churchill’s book on the subject, “The World Crisis 1911-1918”. Winston Churchill’s reputation rest above all on his leadership during the Second World War. Churchill not only made history but he also wrote it. He earned his living as an author/historian and won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953. The book is It is the one hundredth anniversary of World War One and I have been busy reading the newly published works on the subject. I thought I should go into my own library and re-read Winston Churchill’s book on the subject, “The World Crisis 1911-1918”. Winston Churchill’s reputation rest above all on his leadership during the Second World War. Churchill not only made history but he also wrote it. He earned his living as an author/historian and won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953. The book is well researched between the documents, maps and Churchill’s narrative it brings history to life. From a historical perspective, Churchill’s detailed description of the internal politics of the British Government during the Great War, documented by thousands of internal letters, memos, etc. has no other precedent in world history. Churchill is quick to praise others and equally quick to defend his own wartime decisions, backing them with dated documents. Although Churchill did not attack the ‘brass hats’ as vehemently as Lloyd George did in his memoirs, Churchill’s criticism of Generals French, Haig and the commanders strengthened the negative image of the Great War generals that has prevailed to the present day, despite the efforts of revisionist historians. The dysfunctional relationship between Churchill and Lord Kitchener lead to the disastrous Gallipoli campaign in 1915, Churchill documented this in the book in minute detail providing a vigorous defense of the decision and a critical explanation of what went wrong. The ten years after the Great War, Churchill wrote the four volumes of history which were combined into this book covering primarily British history from 1870 to 1918. The book covers the time prior to the War and during the War it takes us into the midst of the War leadership on the diplomatic as well as strategic fronts. It recounts the major campaigns that shaped the war, the attacks on the Somme, the Marne, naval maneuvers off Jutland, Verdun and the surprising victory of Chemin des Dames. After Churchill was forced out as First Lord of the Admiralty he served as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Scots Fusiliers fighting side by side with other British soldiers. He provided the view point of the war from Admiralty to the trenches. I love reading books written by Churchill. The rhythm of Churchill’s language is unsurpassed. I love the meter and beauty of his prose. The book is readable and compelling history of World War One. Churchill’s refined, aristocratic language seems appropriate for the War which ended the age of empires. If you are interested in the history of the Great War you will enjoy this book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    BR Hischier

    This book marks the turning point from War-as-Profession to War-as-Hobby. No longer can a child say, "Daddy, where do you work?" and daddy replies, "War." Instead, on weekends and evenings, as daddy heads into his garage and pulls down the door, the child is left to ask his mother, "Mommy, what is daddy doing?" and she replies, with a dish towel in one hand and a quickly spotting glass in the other, "War." This book marks the turning point from War-as-Profession to War-as-Hobby. No longer can a child say, "Daddy, where do you work?" and daddy replies, "War." Instead, on weekends and evenings, as daddy heads into his garage and pulls down the door, the child is left to ask his mother, "Mommy, what is daddy doing?" and she replies, with a dish towel in one hand and a quickly spotting glass in the other, "War."

  6. 4 out of 5

    Paul Duggan

    This book is an essential part of understanding The Great War and its world-wide complexities. Other reviewers have done a great job; I would only add that this volume added greatly to my understanding of that cataclysmic event encompassing not only the fronts and battles, but especially the behind the scenes actions of the British Admiralty and War Office. Also, the details of the strategic issues in the East - Bulgaria, Roumania (sic) and the Balkans - were new to me. He perhaps spends too much This book is an essential part of understanding The Great War and its world-wide complexities. Other reviewers have done a great job; I would only add that this volume added greatly to my understanding of that cataclysmic event encompassing not only the fronts and battles, but especially the behind the scenes actions of the British Admiralty and War Office. Also, the details of the strategic issues in the East - Bulgaria, Roumania (sic) and the Balkans - were new to me. He perhaps spends too much time on the Dardanelles fiasco for which he was unfairly blamed, but I now understand the importance of opening an Eastern Front - keep Turkey and Roumania out of the war and Russia in it. Victory there would have created a completely different 20th century. Clearly worth the time and effort during the 100th anniversary of the onset of this historic event. As one other reviewer mentioned, keep your PC warm with windows open to Wikipedia and Google. You'll want them

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kevin J. Rogers

    Winston Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty during much of World War I, and hangs this history on his personal recollections and involvement, giving it an immediacy and personality not often achieved in historical writing. Churchill himself was an excellent writer (he eventually won the Nobel Prize for Literature) and is at the top of his form in this comprehensive two-volume study of The Great War. Later historians have disputed some of his facts and conclusions, and he has been occasiona Winston Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty during much of World War I, and hangs this history on his personal recollections and involvement, giving it an immediacy and personality not often achieved in historical writing. Churchill himself was an excellent writer (he eventually won the Nobel Prize for Literature) and is at the top of his form in this comprehensive two-volume study of The Great War. Later historians have disputed some of his facts and conclusions, and he has been occasionally criticized for being self-serving at times (especially as regards the sinking of the Lusitania and the expedition to the Dardanelles), but I found his thinking often compelling, and his historical voice both compelling and entertaining. This is a deep, heavy book written with a delicate touch.

  8. 5 out of 5

    AskHistorians

    A work in 6 volumes that contentiously holds the title of the "most comprehensive" history of the war. A modern abridgment (clocking in at around 850 pages, linked above) is readily available, and well worth a look. There are significant debates within WWI historiography about Churchill's judgments and biases, so it would be worth looking into them as well before taking everything within the book at face value. I'll have some books that would help with this in the Debates section below. A work in 6 volumes that contentiously holds the title of the "most comprehensive" history of the war. A modern abridgment (clocking in at around 850 pages, linked above) is readily available, and well worth a look. There are significant debates within WWI historiography about Churchill's judgments and biases, so it would be worth looking into them as well before taking everything within the book at face value. I'll have some books that would help with this in the Debates section below.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nick Black

    Winston Churchill claims invention of the tank, which I must say seems a rather obvious insight given the following starter facts: - moving beats standing still, especially in no-man's-land - internal combustion engines: stronger than horses - machine guns hurt, even if you live on a silly island with a king Winston Churchill claims invention of the tank, which I must say seems a rather obvious insight given the following starter facts: - moving beats standing still, especially in no-man's-land - internal combustion engines: stronger than horses - machine guns hurt, even if you live on a silly island with a king

  10. 4 out of 5

    Adam DeVille, Ph.D.

    Some of his sneering critics said of this book that "Winston's written his autobiography disguised as a history of the universe." But this is a big book treating the First World War in which Churchill would play such a significant part until 1915 and the Dardanelles disaster, and then again later in Lloyd George's cabinet. Some of his sneering critics said of this book that "Winston's written his autobiography disguised as a history of the universe." But this is a big book treating the First World War in which Churchill would play such a significant part until 1915 and the Dardanelles disaster, and then again later in Lloyd George's cabinet.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Neil Limbert

    Originally written in 3 or 4 volumes, this review is based upon my 1939 Odhams Press issue released in 2 volumes. But it is fully complete, unabridged and over 1400 pages long. First, a word about the Odhams Press 1939 issue - it looks & feels beautiful! Blue hard-backed with the book title, Churchill's silhouette and signature embossed on the front cover. Just picking the book up was a pleasure! For those wanting a comprehensive history of WW1, this is not for them. Churchill wrote this book base Originally written in 3 or 4 volumes, this review is based upon my 1939 Odhams Press issue released in 2 volumes. But it is fully complete, unabridged and over 1400 pages long. First, a word about the Odhams Press 1939 issue - it looks & feels beautiful! Blue hard-backed with the book title, Churchill's silhouette and signature embossed on the front cover. Just picking the book up was a pleasure! For those wanting a comprehensive history of WW1, this is not for them. Churchill wrote this book based on his own involvement and his own experiences. For example the Russian revolution is barely touched upon. But it is a cracking book! First hand history written by someone intimately involved. Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty (Cabinet post) in 1914-15 and the first 900+ pages of this period are devoted to that period. Original reports, letters, Minutes, Notes all reprinted adding significant power to the text. The Gallipoli campaign is prominent because of Churchill's involvement. He makes a robust defence of his position during this disastrous campaign which cost him his job. My eyes were opened by the many original documents supplied. I have no doubt that Churchill was not completely blameless as he was a very pushy individual who could very easily rub people up the wrong way. But, for all that, the campaign's outcome could have been different if not for the continual unnecessary delays and the timidity of certain commanders. Chuchill's active mind strayed to many different aspects of the war. He advocated the use of tanks far earlier than many others. He admired the German army who throughout the war inflicted far greater casualties on the British & French than they themselves incurred. After Gallipoli, Churchill served as an Officer on the Western Front which is a remarkable thing for a serving MP to do. Recalled in 1917 by the new PM (Lloyd George) he was Minister of Munitions in 1917-8 responsible for producing all the war materiel - guns, shells, steel etc etc. This department was massive by the end of the war. The commitment of all combatants was staggering and the slaughter immense. Britain had a small army at the outbreak of the war but, by the end, we had 3 million men in arms. In fact, we were running out of men! Men up to the age of 50 had been called up. This is a superb history written in Churchill's own individual and endearing style.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Vanjr

    It is pretty awesome getting to read the inside thoughts of one of those who saw, lived, excelled, failed and rose back to power during the Great War. Churchill was one of a kind. Long read-recommend to real WW1 war buffs and/or Churchill fans. Note my rating does not reflect a negative opinion. If I don't like a book I don't finish it and it does not get a rating. I try to spread my ratings over 1 to 5 stars rather than let rating inflation make it look like I think every book is 5 stars-they a It is pretty awesome getting to read the inside thoughts of one of those who saw, lived, excelled, failed and rose back to power during the Great War. Churchill was one of a kind. Long read-recommend to real WW1 war buffs and/or Churchill fans. Note my rating does not reflect a negative opinion. If I don't like a book I don't finish it and it does not get a rating. I try to spread my ratings over 1 to 5 stars rather than let rating inflation make it look like I think every book is 5 stars-they aren't.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Sullivan

    It's not an objective view on tha many happenings in World War One, and it's not meant to be. It's the perspective, justification and corrections in hindsight of one of the key players of the Gallipolli campaign, and then in World War 2. It really opened my eyes to a series of events that I didn't know about. Great depth in facts and analysis, it's a great overview of the general happenings of World War One, and a must read for anyone wanting to understand the Gallipolli campaign. It's not an objective view on tha many happenings in World War One, and it's not meant to be. It's the perspective, justification and corrections in hindsight of one of the key players of the Gallipolli campaign, and then in World War 2. It really opened my eyes to a series of events that I didn't know about. Great depth in facts and analysis, it's a great overview of the general happenings of World War One, and a must read for anyone wanting to understand the Gallipolli campaign.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Charles H.

    The original work is 6 volumes, published between 1923 and 1932. This is the "abridged version" but is nonetheless an in depth history of the The Great War. Winston churchill is an amazing author and this is a great book for anyone interested in European history. It is incredibly complete, accurate, and balanced. Highly recommended. You will not be disappointed. The original work is 6 volumes, published between 1923 and 1932. This is the "abridged version" but is nonetheless an in depth history of the The Great War. Winston churchill is an amazing author and this is a great book for anyone interested in European history. It is incredibly complete, accurate, and balanced. Highly recommended. You will not be disappointed.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dustin R

    An extremely thorough and at times long winded account of Churchill’s doings during a during the years surrounding WW1. I recommend this for anyone interested in the Great War or Military and political strategy, but wouldn’t recommend to casual non-fiction readers.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Thom. Neptune

    A 5 volume narrative by Winston Churhill on World War I, part of which time he was in the British Cabinet. Wonderfully written, if you want one good source in your library I recommend this set. Is his history slightly bias? Probably, but in such an elegant manner.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    Abridged version. Even though I know the final outcome of the war, the book still kept me in a state of suspense! Churchill gives the reader so many interesting extra bits of information about WW1 that won’t be found in standard texts that it makes it worth the read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    Brilliant. Churchill’s grasp of the scale of the Great War, and his participation in its historical events, make for a fascinating read.

  19. 4 out of 5

    NinaCD

    Finishing this book felt like losing a friend.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Doris Raines

    I LIKE THIS BOOK.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Phil

    Here's my advice: don't use this book to learn the history of WWI. In fact, go out and read a history of WWI before you read this. Better yet, read five. The World Crisis was not noted for its objectivity in its day: almost every review you'll read of this book on Goodreads will note Balfour's comment to the effect that the book was Churchill's "autobiography" masquerading as a history of the world. So, if you do desire to read this without ample context, do so forewarned that you are reading th Here's my advice: don't use this book to learn the history of WWI. In fact, go out and read a history of WWI before you read this. Better yet, read five. The World Crisis was not noted for its objectivity in its day: almost every review you'll read of this book on Goodreads will note Balfour's comment to the effect that the book was Churchill's "autobiography" masquerading as a history of the world. So, if you do desire to read this without ample context, do so forewarned that you are reading the work of a political figure who was very keen to paint himself and his nation in the most positive light possible after a major conflict. The author of this book foresaw a future for himself in the public realm. In some cases (Gallipoli, Churchill's claimed innate understanding of the Schlieffen plan years before the war) this is obvious from the text. In others, it is not. Context - a lot of it - will help the reader to understand when and how Churchill is sharing his perspective of events with us, which is necessary to truly appreciate this work. Another Goodreads reviewer likened this to an early 20th century version of GWB's Decision Points. I only agree in the loosest sense of the two books being written by political leaders after the fact partly in an attempt to explain themselves to the broader public. The comparison ends there. For one, while at Admiralty, Churchill pored over every last detail of each of his ships and near micromanaged every aspect of the naval operations with which he was involved. The reader will need a hefty amount of caffeine to remain upright as he goes into details about ship tonnage, testing new larger 15" guns in a hurry, the effects of fog and rough weather on key operations and the snap mobilization of forces as conflict appeared imminent. Nonetheless, compared to today's leaders -- who often make decisions only after the advice of a team of experts, several memos and a pollster -- Churchill's obsession with the details and active management harken back to a time when leadership meant something far different than it does today. And for all of Churchill's exuberance and supposed foresight of enemy plans and movements, he does not "double down" on the decisions which history has shown to be failures. The heart turns for Churchill a bit as he explains his struggle to tell the public the partial truth in the aftermath of the shelling of Hartlepool; the Brits only had an opportunity to hit the German ships that had done the shelling as a result of their successful uncovering of German codes, which Churchill could risk revealing. He had to leave the public unsatisfied, recognizing the pain millions would feel knowing that the Germans could strike the British homeland with impunity. Certainly the blame-shifting and excuse-making common to all of us slips into these pages: the disaster at Coronel is a perfect example. Nonetheless, we don't see in Churchill that tendency too common to contemporary leaders: the desire to obfuscate the true account of events and stubbornly insist that every decision taken was the right one. Don't read this book to learn about WWI. You will learn about WWI -- probably more than you thought was possible -- but you'll really learn about what it feels like to be in command in a desperate situation.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bryan

    This is an excellent book by one of the giants of history. I'm a big fan of Churchill, and, having read the three volume work of Manchester (highly recommended) and some other scattered books about him, I wanted to read a book by him (I've already read most of his inspiring speeches). After reading this book, I have to conclude that Churchill is a master of the written word, as his mastery of the English language is evident in every sentence, making this book is a joy to read. The subject matter This is an excellent book by one of the giants of history. I'm a big fan of Churchill, and, having read the three volume work of Manchester (highly recommended) and some other scattered books about him, I wanted to read a book by him (I've already read most of his inspiring speeches). After reading this book, I have to conclude that Churchill is a master of the written word, as his mastery of the English language is evident in every sentence, making this book is a joy to read. The subject matter is fascinating to me, who didn't know much about WWI going into the book, having read only a few books on the subject: A World Undone, The Guns of August, and The Sleepwalkers. My only complaint is that large sections of the book are devoted to the naval war, which, with Britain's overwhelming superiority, was never in doubt. This can be excused by Churchill's service as First Lord of the Admiralty and the fact that Churchill, being Churchill, must describe his own impact on the war. That is not to belittle his impact on the war. In my opinion, his preparations of the fleet up to the start of the war were key to the eventual Allied victory, and, as Lord Kitchener notes to Churchill after Churchill is sacked for the failure of the Dardanalles campaign, 'you had the fleet ready, they can't take that away from you.' Finally, some historians dispute Churchill's conclusions in parts of the book, especially on the Dardanalles campaign. It would be nice to know what these discrepancies are, but this is a minor complaint. In summary, this book is highly recommended for those who like Churchill or who want a magnificently written account of World War I by a key participant of that history.

  23. 5 out of 5

    John Fries

    Churchill was the civilian head of the British Navy (First Lord of the Admiralty) prior to and for the first two years of World War I. This book, written in 1931, benefits from Churchill's full access to French and British high command thinking at every turn (not to mention his own participation as a senior war leader), as well as the documents and biographies of the German General Staff, including the correspondence of several key Generals, released after the War was concluded. Throughout, Chur Churchill was the civilian head of the British Navy (First Lord of the Admiralty) prior to and for the first two years of World War I. This book, written in 1931, benefits from Churchill's full access to French and British high command thinking at every turn (not to mention his own participation as a senior war leader), as well as the documents and biographies of the German General Staff, including the correspondence of several key Generals, released after the War was concluded. Throughout, Churchill is able to compare French and British military leaders' plans and their perceptions of the effects of their actions on the Germans, to their actual historic effects. It is in this difference between the perception of military leaders and reality, the unmerited confidence they held in their own judgments, their hubris, that the blunders, missed opportunities, and the heart rending consequences for millions of killed and wounded soldiers unfolds. Churchill was writing at a time when in Germany tales of the country's loss of The Great War were being spun from the German far Right - tales designed to both exonerate Germany from war guilt, to explain the loss in terms not of incompetence but of betrayal, intended to justify putting the country back on the path to war. Churchill's analysis was intended for an international audience, in Great Britain and the US, yes, but also, I think, he was conscious of his opportunity to set the record straight for the citizens of the former German and Austrian Empires as to how and why their great national calamities happened.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kent

    Whew...thank god for abridgements...Churchill's writing style can be described as magnificent (and perhaps rightly grandiloquent) and at times reading it I understood the comment attributed to Alfred Balfour that reading it was like reading Churchill's autobiography disguised as a history of the universe (from Wikipedia). Manchester considered The World Crisis to be Churchill's masterpiece. Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty from the beginning of the War in 1914 through May 1915 and the a Whew...thank god for abridgements...Churchill's writing style can be described as magnificent (and perhaps rightly grandiloquent) and at times reading it I understood the comment attributed to Alfred Balfour that reading it was like reading Churchill's autobiography disguised as a history of the universe (from Wikipedia). Manchester considered The World Crisis to be Churchill's masterpiece. Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty from the beginning of the War in 1914 through May 1915 and the abridgement is quite detailed for that period of time (chapters 1 through 32). The remainder of the war, June 1915 through November 1918 are then covered in just 23 chapters (33-55)! Still, for me it was an excellent introduction into my series of reading of books on the 100th anniversary of the Great War.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    I actually finished Volume One about a month ago and am nearly finished Volume Two. It seemed to me that Churchill had to use the first volume to defend his decisions as First Lord of the Admiralty, having started writing these books shortly after the end of the war. And rightfully so, because a lot was written both during and after the war holding him solely responsible for the Dardanelles in particular. I am eager to finish all the volumes, not only to actually learn about the First World War, I actually finished Volume One about a month ago and am nearly finished Volume Two. It seemed to me that Churchill had to use the first volume to defend his decisions as First Lord of the Admiralty, having started writing these books shortly after the end of the war. And rightfully so, because a lot was written both during and after the war holding him solely responsible for the Dardanelles in particular. I am eager to finish all the volumes, not only to actually learn about the First World War, but honestly, so I can get to his later works on WWII, where the "real" Winston Churchill graces the pages.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Edith Carter

    Written 90 years ago about an event that happened 100 years ago, prepare to Google several times per page to have any clue as to what Churchill is communicating. (He was writing to an audience that would have known WWI, its lead up, and its aftermath as recent events.) A good idea might be to read a good contemporary WWI book first. A modern author would be more likely to fill in the memory gaps left by time. But, if you have the patience for all that, this can be a rewarding read. I'm planning Written 90 years ago about an event that happened 100 years ago, prepare to Google several times per page to have any clue as to what Churchill is communicating. (He was writing to an audience that would have known WWI, its lead up, and its aftermath as recent events.) A good idea might be to read a good contemporary WWI book first. A modern author would be more likely to fill in the memory gaps left by time. But, if you have the patience for all that, this can be a rewarding read. I'm planning to read Barbara Tuchman's 1963 book, The Guns of August, first and then tackle this Churchill set again.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    There's a reason Churchill won the Nobel Prize for Literature. As usual, his writing is both insightful, informative and edged with just enough Churchillian wit. This book covers his experience in the British Cabinet during World War I. While not as compelling as his writings on WWII (for obvious reaons perhaps) the history was extremely well done. What I can't figure out is how Churchill found the time to be such a prolific writer with all that he did in his life. Definitely recommended for any There's a reason Churchill won the Nobel Prize for Literature. As usual, his writing is both insightful, informative and edged with just enough Churchillian wit. This book covers his experience in the British Cabinet during World War I. While not as compelling as his writings on WWII (for obvious reaons perhaps) the history was extremely well done. What I can't figure out is how Churchill found the time to be such a prolific writer with all that he did in his life. Definitely recommended for anyone interested in a general overview of WWI - especially from the political end of things.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    This is a first hand view of the first world war from the man that played a major role in it. Churchill talks candidly about the mistakes that were made (including Gallipoli which he refuses to take the blame for) and the missed opportunities to end the war early. Ominously, at the end of the book he admonishes the Allies for the harsh treatment meted out to the Germans at the end of the war. And warns of the terrible consequences this may bring in the future. He wrote this prediction in 1922 an This is a first hand view of the first world war from the man that played a major role in it. Churchill talks candidly about the mistakes that were made (including Gallipoli which he refuses to take the blame for) and the missed opportunities to end the war early. Ominously, at the end of the book he admonishes the Allies for the harsh treatment meted out to the Germans at the end of the war. And warns of the terrible consequences this may bring in the future. He wrote this prediction in 1922 and could never have imagined how true it would turn out to be.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Larry

    This book is interesting but not recommended to all. The positive is Churchill's views on some of the politics and flaws of coalition government in the UK during war. Also his broad view of events, like the need to attack Turkey at the time it did to relieve pressure on Russia and on the Western Front. His view of the war as a whole is also interesting. Much of the book though is devoted to clearing Churchill's record and much of this discussion seems self-serving. This book is interesting but not recommended to all. The positive is Churchill's views on some of the politics and flaws of coalition government in the UK during war. Also his broad view of events, like the need to attack Turkey at the time it did to relieve pressure on Russia and on the Western Front. His view of the war as a whole is also interesting. Much of the book though is devoted to clearing Churchill's record and much of this discussion seems self-serving.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    Very interesting book. It was interesting to read Churchill's own opinion of the Dardenelles Operation. He thinks that Lord Kitchener and Admiral de Roebeck did not do what they should have done. However, like Churchill says nothing is predictable in war, so if they had followed the Naval plan, it may not of worked. He says it just had more factors for it than the disastrous Gallipoli campaign. Very interesting book. It was interesting to read Churchill's own opinion of the Dardenelles Operation. He thinks that Lord Kitchener and Admiral de Roebeck did not do what they should have done. However, like Churchill says nothing is predictable in war, so if they had followed the Naval plan, it may not of worked. He says it just had more factors for it than the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.

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