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Publisher's 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

Average Customer Ratings
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    4 out of 5 stars

Dreadful narrator

Narrator somehow made the story of ww1 boring. Dry, lack of tone, pacing and excitement in the topic. Couldn't complete the book.

1 person found this helpful

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This is as comprehensive as it can be.

Brilliant overview of a calamity. I could have listened for 60 hrs but am pleased to know much more about the complexity of this huge tragedy & how it fed into so many aspects of WW2

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  • troy a myers
  • 27-07-2020

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

7 people found this helpful

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  • Joseph
  • 03-08-2020

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.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Nicholas
  • 06-12-2020

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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  • Christian P.
  • 11-02-2021

Good book, poor narrator

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

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 30-12-2020

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

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  • JOHN M SNARSKI
  • 23-10-2020

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.

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  • Pimco PC
  • 19-05-2020

Awful narrator

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

10 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 15-06-2020

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?

5 people found this helpful

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  • PD
  • 03-09-2020

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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  • N. Turner
  • 07-01-2021

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.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 23-08-2020

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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  • C.PLADHAMS
  • 01-01-2021

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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  • STEVE
  • 03-12-2020

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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  • Amazon Customer
  • 27-10-2020

Absolutely brilliant listening

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

1 person found this helpful

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  • Sam Purchase
  • 12-04-2021

Terrible narration

A great book, really over-narrated by Roger Clark. I wouldn’t recommend it, just about made it through on 1.5 speed. A shame.

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  • GNMortensen
  • 05-04-2021

Fantastic book. Very powerful, informed& authentic

The book is long, but worth the time. Please don't be put off by the stilted reading style and unforgivable pronunciation errors e.g. Haig should be pronounced like hay - not high. Also it's the Sudetenland - not SudeNtenland!!!!!!!! The reader aside, the content is phenomenal.

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