World War I: A Country-by-Country Guide

ABC-CLIO. May 2019. 763p. ed. by ed. by Spencer C. Tucker. photos. maps. index. ISBN 9781440863684. $198; ebk. ISBN 9781440863691. REF
Tucker (senior fellow, ABC-CLIO; World War I: The Essential Reference Guide) and 106 additional scholars focus on the 22 most involved nations in World War I (subsuming those not yet independent in Central Europe/Middle East under the relevant empires). Subsections cover statistics, entry, war role, home front, impact, military branches, military and government leaders, and a 1914–18 time line, and each subsection offers further reading (instead of an overall bibliography). Separate articles on 18 key battles, and 18 weapons or tactics, follow. There are captioned black-and-white photos, 15 maps, and brief narrative sidebars. Especially valuable is the introduction, concisely exploring the war’s complex causes and its course, impact, and significance. Tucker examines “social and economic tensions” among causes but concentrates on military and political pressures and places the bulk of responsibility on the Central Powers, bypassing scholarly controversies surrounding that topic. His survey of the war’s course is admirably clear, jargon-free, thorough, and balanced. Occasional political observations are useful. Typically, military historical accounts of maneuvers slight the lived experiences of troops: exceptions here are the articles on chemical weapons and trench warfare. Individual country entries add details. Women’s impact is briefly noted; wartime medical advances or deficiencies and the conflict’s effect on the arts are not covered at all, but the amount of information overall is staggering.
VERDICT These volumes’ stellar organization and depth of scholarly coverage make them important supplements to the numerous existing World War I reference works.
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