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The Complete Idiot's Guide to World War I by Alan Axelrod, Ph.D.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to World War I

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The Complete Idiot's Guide to World War I by Alan Axelrod, Ph.D.
Oct 12, 2000 | ISBN 9781101198988

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  • Oct 12, 2000 | ISBN 9781101198988

    Available from:

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Table Of Contents


1. The Great War.

How Did It Start?

Wants and Needs. A Wrong Turn. A Tangled Web.

Red Pants and Spiked Helmets.

Summer of Six Million. Big Plans.

The Last Man on the Right.

Advance. Race to the Sea. Trenches and Graves.

No Man’s Land.

Western Front. Eastern Front.

The New War.

The Russians Leave. The Americans Arrive.


Requiem at Versailles. The Long Truce.

2. Family Affairs.

A Historian Remembers a Funeral. Empires.

The Old World. Twilight of the Kings.

Secrets and Lies.

Bismarck’s Diplomacy. The Entente. The World as a Trap.

A Set of Wars.

Seven Weeks in 1866. The Shame of Sedan. Rising Sun. Balkan Tragedies. Nations and Tribes.

3. Blueprints for a Bloodletting.

European Balance Sheet.

Allied Advantages. A Matter of Self-Sufficiency. Haber’s Miracle.

Nations at Arms, 1914.

France Versus Germany. British Volunteers. The Russian “Steamroller”. The Dual Empire.

Deadly Innovations.

The Machine Gun. The New Artillery. The Dreadnoughts.

Spoiling for War.

French Elan: Plan XVII. German Speed: The Schlieffen Plan. Austro-Hungarian Flexibility: Plan. And the Russian Alphabet.

4. The Black Hand.

Union or Death.

The Assassins. A Sick Boy.

The Archduke and His Lady.

A Blind Alley in Sarajevo. June 28, 1914, 11:15 A.M.

Crime and Punishment.

Austro-Hungarian “Diplomacy”. The Kaiser’s Pledge. Ultimatum and Response.

The Kaiser Comes Home to a War.

First Mobilizations. In Lockstep to Armageddon.


5. Battle of the Frontiers.

“The Guns of August”.

Across the Belgian Threshold. An Orgy of Declarations. Italy Avoids War—For Now. Treaty of London. Like an Unexpected Holiday.

Bottleneck at Liège.

Big Bertha and the Zeppelin. Papa Joffre’s Decision.

The Great Wheel.

The Schlieffen Plan in Motion. Lorraine Erupts. Offensive in the Ardennes.

Sambre and Mons. “Hardly Satisfactory”.

6. The Marne: Massacre and Miracle.

The Fortified Camp of Paris. Moltke’s Unsure Hand.

British Peril. Kluck Takes a Turn. The Front Is Paris. Kitchener Intervenes.

Taxis to the Marne.

The German Advance Falters. Counterattack on the Marne. Battle of the Ourcq. Paris Saved. Victory—of Sorts. The End of Moltke.

Trenches on the Aisne. Ypres. From the First 30 Days to the Next 5 Years.

7. The Sun Sets in the East.

The Myth of the Russian Steamroller.

When Numbers Lie. Lessons of the Russo-Japanese War. The Czar’s Problems.

Strategy for the Eastern Front.

What the Germans Counted On. What Austria-Hungary Feared. What the Russians Hoped For. What the French Demanded.

A Divided Army.

Against East Prussia. Encounter at Stallupönen. Triumph and Failure at Gumbinnen. Against Austria.

The New Commander.

8. A Suicide.

Prelude to a Russian Tragedy.

The Generals Decide. Nerves. The Russian Position, August 26, 1914.


The German Guns Speak. Flight and Pursuit. The Russian Center Resists. Encirclement. The End of Samsonov.

Defeat at the Masurian Lakes.

9. Duel of Doomed Empires.

Austrian Priorities. A New Army Materializes.

Guessing the Russian Game. The Austro-German Advance Stalls. Battle at Lodz. New Orders from the Kaiser.

Carpathian Snows. The Winter Battle.

A New Weapon. Second Battle of the Masurian Lakes.

A Breakthrough.

The Long Retreat. A New Eastern Front, a New Commander.

10. The Sick Man and Serbia.

The Turkish Connection.

Young Turks. The Flight of the Goeben and the Breslau. Turkey’s “Declaration”.

Action in the Caucasus. Serbia Resists.

Bulgaria Joins Austria and Germany. The Western Allies Far from Home. Doom and Defeat of Serbia.

The Greek Situation.

11. A World War.

Sea Power.

British Objectives. German Strategy.

Battle at Helgoland Bight. The U-Boat War Begins. High Seas Fleet Breakout.

The Battle of Dogger Bank. The East Asiatic Squadron. German Disaster at the Falklands.

Lusitania Lost! Empires Far Flung.

The Conquest of Togoland. War Comes to the Cameroons. Theater: South Africa.

German China and the German Pacific.

Enter Japan. North Pacific Battles. Allied Triumphs in the South Pacific.

The German Genius of East Africa.

Lettow-Vorbeck Takes the Offensive. The Smuts Offensive. A Fight Beyond the Finish.


12. Deadlock.

The Technology of Stalemate.

The German Edge. A Change of Uniform. Machine Guns. Artillery. Enter the Tank.

The New German Strategy. Allied Arguments. Trench Life. Poison Gas.

A Yellow-Green Cloud at Ypres. Masks On! New Poisons.

13. A New Year and No Hope.

A Crisis of Priorities. 500 Yards for 50,000 Men.

The Battle of Champagne. An Experiment at Neuve Chapelle.

Fire from the Sky. Woëvre and Ypres. Allied Offensives.

Vimy Ridge. Artois and Champagne. Loos.

A Changing of the Guard.

14. The Gallipoli Disaster.

To Break the Deadlock.

Target: Dardanelles. Allied Naval Assault. Hasty Muster.

First Landings.

Under Fire. Blunders and Bloodshed. Heads Roll.

Second Landing.

Final Failure. Evacuation.

Russia, Hanging.

15. The Other Fronts, 1915.

Enter Italy.

End of the Triple Alliance. The Italian Army. A Dream of Vienna.

The First Battles of Isonzo. Death in the Caucasus.

Malazgirt. Kara Killisse.


Van Falls … … And Is Retaken.

The Holy Land and Mesopotamia.

Thrust Against the Canal. Rocking the Cradle of Civilization.

And Persia.

16. “They Shall Not Pass!”.

Falkenhayn Writes to the Kaiser. To Bleed France White.

Target: Verdun. Preparation. Failure at Fort Douaumont. “Ils Ne Passeront Pas!”.

Pétain’s Courage.

The “Sacred Way”. Wave Upon Wave. Fall of Fort Vaux. The French Attack.

Offensive on the Somme.

17. Italy, the Eastern Front, and Elsewhere, 1916.

More Battles on the Isonzo. An Italian Appeal.

The Brusilov Offensive. Austrian Rout. Romania’s Entry.

In the Bird Cage.

Attack and Counterattack. Operations in Albania.

Action on the Turkish Fronts.

Sinai Bridgehead. The Arab Revolt. Battle of Rumani. In Mesopotamia. The Caucasus: Russia’s Winter Offensive. The Caucasus: Turkey Counterattacks.


18. A Tale of Two Fleets.

The Enemy Below.

A German Proclamation. A Pledge and Secret Orders.

The Jutland Opportunity.

The Stakes. German High Seas Fleet. British Grand Fleet. “Engage the Enemy Closer”. Flagships Fall. The “Death Ride”.

Jutland: Darkness Falls.

Keeping Score. End of an Era.

High Seas Coda.

19. Winged Knights.

The Air War: First Phase.

Reconnaissance. Strategic Bombing.


From Revolver to Machine Gun. Coffins with Wings and Props.

Fighter Tactics.

The Aces. Lafayette Escadrille.

Ground Attack.


20. “He Kept Us Out of War”.

Staying Neutral.

The Lusitania Strain. Early United States Mediation Efforts. Renewed Mediation Attempts. Peace Without Victory.

America Drifts Toward War.

Preparedness Movement.

The Zimmermann Telegram.

“Safe for Democracy”.

Applause for a Message of Death.

21. Allies Imperiled.

Despair on the Western Front.

Shake-Up in British Government. Papa Joffre Loses Command. The Verdun Formula.

Ludendorff’s Move.

Crystallizing a Defensive Strategy. The Hindenburg Line.

Battle of Arras and the Nivelle Offensive. The French Mutinies. Flanders Fields.

Battle of Messines. Passchendaele. Cambrai.

A Separate Peace.

The Revolution of 1917. A Second Brusilov Offensive. Offensive at Riga. The Bolshevik Revolution. The Treaties of Brest-Litovsk.

22. Over Here and Over There.

American Resources.

An Arsenal of Democracy. Citizens to Soldiers. Patriots and Slackers. Wilson Hires an Ad Man. The Propaganda War. The Liberty Loans. From Sauerkraut to Liberty Cabbage.

The Yanks Are Coming!

Black Jack Pershing and the AEF. Sims and the Navy. “Lafayette, We Are Here”.

Pershing’s First Fight.

23. The War Beyond the Trenches, 1917-1918.

The Italian Front.

Isonzo Continues. “Hutier Tactics”. Italian Disaster. Battle of the Piave. Italy’s Counteroffensive.

Balkan Stalemate.

Allies at Cross Purposes. Breakthrough. Crossing the Danube.

On the Turkish Fronts.

Caucasus. Palestine and Syria. Lawrence of Arabia. Holy Land Ending.

Mesopotamian Campaign.

24. New Blood.

The Buildup. Wilson Makes Fourteen Points. The German Offensives.

Somme Offensive. The Bombing of Paris. Lys Offensive. “Backs to the Wall”. Aisne Offensive.

Americans in Action.

Saving Cantigny. Chteau-Thierry. Belleau Wood.

Two More German Offensives.

The German Deserters. Noyon-Montdidier: The Franco-American Response. Champagne-Marne.

25. Second Marne.

Turning Point: The Second Battle of the Marne.

The Rock of the Marne. Foch Versus Pétain. The Allies Strike Back. The Yanks Weigh In. Ludendorff Withdraws.

Amiens Offensive.

A “Black Day” for the German Army. “The War Must Be Ended”.

26. A Million Men and More.

Against the St.-Mihiel Salient. American Eagles.

Billy Mitchell. Eddie Rickenbacker.

Meuse-Argonne Offensive.

The Lost Battalion. An American Hero: Sergeant York. Argonne Under Control.

27. Eleventh Hour, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Month.

Storming the Hindenburg Line.

The Flanders Offensive. Advance to the Sambre and the Scheldt.

The Germans Fold.

A Message from Prince Max. End of a Dictator. A German Revolution.

A Railway Coach at Compiègne.

The Long Talk. Darkness Before Dawn. All Quiet. Butcher’s Bill.


28. The Tragedy of Versailles.

After the Armistice.

German Evacuation. The End of the High Seas Fleet. Allies in the Rhineland.

Hall of Mirrors.

Woodrow Wilson in Europe. The Big Four. Compromises.

War to End All War.

Fatal Terms. The Promise of the League.

American Betrayal.

Wilson’s Forlorn Hope. “Not for Us”.

Finale—or Act I?

29. Disease, Disillusion, and All That Jazz.

The Plague of War.

First Cases. Pandemic!

“Return to Normalcy”.

The New Isolationism. How Ya Gonna Keep ‘Em Down on the Farm? Going Dry.

The Jazz Age.

New Music. Opting Out. The Lost Generation and a World Remade.


Appendix A. Who Was Who in World War I.

Appendix B. Words of War.
Appendix C. Further Reading.

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