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World war one remains one the most significant events in world history. Whether you are curious about learning more about the war the relative fought in or you would simply like to learn more about the generations that came before, World War I can be a fascinating and dark subject. Tens of millions of people throughout Europe were lost in the field entrenches a battle during this time. Studying World War I can help us to avoid repeating these mistakes from the past and make sure that we can study the evidence of the time that led up to the war to prevent the same conditions.
What are the Best World War 1 Books to read?
There’s a large number of books available on the subject of World War I. You might find it tough to narrow down the right books that you should be reading to further your knowledge. Here are some of the finest books that are currently available on the subject of WWI.
Best World War 1 Books: Our Top 20 Picks
Here are some of the best world war 1 books that you can consider to expand your knowledge on the subject:
1. Guns of August
The Guns of August is a book that’s been voted as one of the best 100 nonfiction books of all time. As a Pulitzer Prize winner, it includes some of the classic historical tales from the first world war. Written from the perspective of revered historian Barbra W. Tuchman, the first month of World War I are covered with remarkable precision. Beginning with the funeral of Edward VII and tracing origins of hostilities on each front, The Guns of August systematically breaks down each of the steps that led to the clash of World War I. This is a comprehensive analysis that stands as a truly impressive historical retelling.
- Authors: Barbara W. Tuchman (Author), Robert K. Massie (Foreword)
- Publisher: Presidio Press (August 3, 2004)
- Pages: 640 pages
2. World War One: History in an Hour
Rupert Colley has published an abridged version of World War I title history in an hour. This condensed version details the war from the side of each great power including the triple entente and the central powers. With around 9 million people losing their lives during the conflict, this one-hour abridged version of the war details some of the technology and the horrors of war that were faced. With a clear overview of how the war got started as well as some of the largest turning points throughout the battles, this is an in-depth look that could be the perfect way you could dedicate an hour to learning more about this dark time in human history. This is an essential book for history lovers and for anyone interested in a quick and deep dive into World War I.
- Authors: Rupert Colley (Author)
- Publisher: HarperPress (March 29, 2012)
- Pages: 102 pages
3. The First World War
The first world war by John Keegan is a book that explores the conflict that shaped our modern world. Explain the end of the Victorian era and looking into the nature of mechanized warfare that begin the 20th century, we can see a true evolution from a peaceful and civilized time into the military rise that took place quickly across Europe. This book is written from the perspective of exploring how a society on the rise was able to turn to complete conflict as a result of disputes. The analysis of the military conflict is an ongoing study here. There’s new light shed into the strategies and tactics that were employed as well as new technology contributions that took place throughout the war. The human impact is not lost in the large political scale and there are a number of chapters here on the engaging personalities that were responsible for overseeing all necessary plans on each front.
- Authors: John Keegan (Author)
- Publisher: Vintage (May 16, 2000)
- Pages: 528 pages
4. The Great War: A Combat History of the First World War
World war 1 altered landscape of our modern world with millions being wiped from the face of the planet. A series of new political movements arose and a number of new ideologies were continuing to rise with them. Historian Peter Hart explores one of the darkest times in human history including some of the immense challenges that were faced by individuals on all sides. The book serves as a survey of each nation and an analysis of their strengths, strategic imperatives and their weaknesses. Looking into the strategical needs of each nation and exploring the strategies on each side helps us to see the beginning of prewar plans and how they were adapted to produce new operation standards.
- Authors: Peter Hart (Author)
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reprint Edition (May 1, 2015)
- Pages: 544 pages
5. First World War Hew Strachan
Hew Strachan details a complete survey of the war is history and it’s one of the most accessible books on the history of World War I. This authoritative and brilliant book details the account of historian Hew Strachan. It goes through some of the most decisive victories on all fronts of the war including in the Ottoman Empire, Africa and the Balkans. The book does an excellent job at examining the major campaigns and the causes of the First World War. From social and economic unrest to the military strategies that won on each front, this is an in-depth analysis. The winner of a 2016 Pritzker prize, this is a masterless sent to re-examine the causes of the war and the way that various theaters of war would eventually lead to a shaky peace.
- Authors: Hew Strachan (Author)
- Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint Edition (April 5, 2005)
- Pages: 384 pages
6. The First World War: A Complete History
World War I was considered to be the war to end all wars. It started on the morning of June 28 11:15 AM 1914. Sarajevo was the starting point in the Australian Hungarian empire and this complete history begins from this initial starting base and proceeds through to the end of the first world war. The horrors of war are covered throughout including the adoption of the new technology, the with a geographic boundaries changed as well as the way social order changed systematically as a result of the war. A complete history by Martin Gilbert is widely considered to be one of the best books to read for a true understanding of the war of the century.
- Authors: Martin Gilbert (Author)
- Publisher: Holt Paperbacks; 2nd Edition (March 1, 2004)
- Pages: 688 pages
7. Notebooks of Corporal Barrelmaker 1914-1918
The notebooks of corporal Louis Barthas Barrelmaker include a summary of notebooks taken from 1914 to 1918. This first-person account from a French footsoldier surviving four full years of the trenches in the first world war includes some harrowing tales. This 35-year-old barrel maker was conscripted from a smile winegrowing town to fight the Germans during the early days of World War I. He continued to fight for four years and recorded notebooks throughout. His work was published in year 1978 and delivers a series of firsthand accounts from the trenches and the life of a front-line soldier. Edward M. Strauss translates the original author Louis Barthas notebooks. With three counts of some of the bloody battles, his endless exhaustion, the death of his friends and the mistakes that many of his own officers made this is a way to dive into World War I like never before.
- Authors: Louis Barthas (Author), Edward M. Strauss (Translator), Rémy Cazals (Introduction), Robert Cowley (Foreword)
- Publisher: Yale University Press (March 31, 2015)
- Pages: 480 pages
8. First World War Short Intro
The first world war, a very short introduction is a concise and insightful story regarding the great war. The state of Europe in 1914 is covered as well as the role of the United States. Focusing more on the political effects of war and the events that drove these effects to occur, this is an examination of why the war was fought, the strategies that were used and some of the central problems that were faced by each nation. The details including the collapse of Russia and the surrender of central powers are all included here. The nature of peace is also a compelling topic as well as the ongoing resentment that would lead to future conflicts. The legacy that was left after World War I created a ripple effect throughout politics in our world and the historical controversies that took place to drive the war effort and to create this political effect are all explored in the short introduction book by Michael Howard.
- Authors: Michael Howard (Author)
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; Illustrated Edition (May 20, 2007)
- Pages: 134 pages
9. Ring Steel Germany in Austria Hungary World
The Ring of steel is a book on Germany and Austria Hungary throughout World War I. Alexander Watson tells the history of the war from the perspective of the losers and the leaders in Vienna and Berlin. With details of the ruthless blockade from Britain, the way the allies choked off the rest of the Austrian army and more, this is a compelling history as told from the side of Germany and Austria Hungary. Examining the political structure of the societies involved in the war as well as the way that Europe effectively change from the war, this is an essential book in European history today not just in the exploration of WWI.
- Authors: Alexander Watson (Author)
- Publisher: Basic Books; Illustrated Edition (March 28, 2017)
- Pages: 832 pages
10. First World War for Dummies
The first world war for dummies details the complex political landscape that led to the war, the key battles that shaped the war and how it change the world. Dr. Sean Lang published a comprehensive guide of the first world war and the way our world changed as a result of it. Consider this a goto source for World War I knowledge and details on the fundamental events that occurred throughout the war and leading up to the War. If you’re in need of a resource guide on World War I, this is one of the easiest and most comprehensive books that you could pick up for your reference guide.
- Authors: Seán Lang (Author)
- Publisher: For Dummies; 1st Edition (April 28, 2014)
- Pages: 410 pages
11. World War Trivia Book
The world war 1 trivia book is filled with interesting stories and random facts from the first world war. This book can help you fill in some of the blanks from history. If you’ve only ever received the Coles notes on World War I, this is an excellent book to look into on the complex geopolitical alliances that led to the war and how the average soldier dealt with life in the trenches. The book handle some of the most important battles as well as the way the war had an effect on men long after it was fought. With a series of stories and random facts from the first world war, this is a great idea for history lovers and for individuals that are looking to answer some common questions about what wartime life would have been like.
- Authors: Bill O’Neill (Author)
- Publisher: Independently published (June 28, 2019)
- Pages: 189 pages
12. World War One British Poets
Some of the greatest accounts of World War I come from young poets on the British front. Poetry from World War I is published in this collection from authors like Sassoon, Rosenberg, Owen, Brooke and others. Many of these poets were confronted with their own mortality and the death of close friends. Details on the loss of innocence, the failure of civilization, madness and the nature of war are all included in these volumes. Poems from some of the greatest wartime poets as well as major poets like Rudyard Kipling, Thomas hardy and Robert Graves are all included here. The range of beauty and brutalism are all on display in this unique perspective of the war. If you are looking for an artistic retelling of the horrors of World War I, this collection could be an excellent idea for you to pick up.
- Authors: Candace Ward (Editor)
- Publisher: Dover Publications; 1st Edition (April 22, 1997)
- Pages: 80 pages
13. World War One Short History
World war one, a short history includes details on some of the most important aspects of World War I. With four of the world superpowers completely destroyed and a complete reshaping of the geopolitical landscape, this is a brisk narrative detailing some of the greatest conflicts of the 20th century in World War I. Written by Norman Stone, this is a short story that spares no intimate details on World War I. If you are looking for one of the most accurate and concise explorations of World War I, this is an excellent novel that you should consider picking up. This is a short story that is considered one of the most masterful explanations on why the 20th century’s most important conflicts.
- Authors: Norman Stone (Author)
- Publisher: Basic Books; Illustrated Edition (April 27, 2010)
- Pages: 240 pages
14. World War One Soldiers
The vivid descriptions on the early stages of the war can be found throughout these pages written by various authors. The reader can gain a series of lessons about the conditions on the front as well as hear first hand recounts of some of the most important battles throughout the history of the war effort. The original version of this book was published in the year 1915 and a detailed some of the accounts of the battlefield in the early stages of the war. These tales were becoming more commonplace in the early stages of the war when this was first published and the book has only expanded the number of tales that were added as more people came forward after the end of the war. The supplementary photos and the first-hand accounts deliver perhaps one of the clearest pictures of some of the most famous battles in World War I. If you are interested in learning history from the perspective of the soldiers on the ground, this is an excellent place to find perspective on World War I.
- Authors: Various (Author)
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (June 2, 2016)
- Pages: 140 pages
15. World War 1 Kids History
The World War I for kids history is filled with 21 interactive activities that can help children learn about some of the world’s past superpowers. Understanding the nature of the war, would daily life was like for soldiers in the trenches, the roles of barbed wire, zeppelins and more are all included in these novels. The technology that was developed as well as the way that animals played a role in the war can all be illuminated in these activities. The activity book was authored by R. Kent Rammusen as a means to get kids interested in World War I and to learn more about what the time was like.
- Authors: R. Kent Rasmussen (Author)
- Publisher: Chicago Review Press (April 1, 2014)
- Pages: 192 pages
16. Pandoras Box History of the First World War
Pandora’s box is a book on the history of World War I written by Jorn Heonhard. It retells the monumental history of the first world war from the perspective of Germanys leading historians on the 20th century. Translated by Patrick Camiller, this book details the arms race over destructive technology, first in grim experiences from a series of soldiers as well as the perspective of cultural leaders, artists and intellectuals. The social and political pressures that were faced at the time include a detailed recount of the way the world was changed through this history. Pandoras box truly feels like a Pandora’s box moment from the moment that this book is opened. With perspectives on the turbulence in geopolitics, the radical technology of war and the dangers that were faced in World War I.
- Authors: Jörn Leonhard (Author), Patrick Camiller (Translator)
- Publisher: Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press; Illustrated Edition (April 16, 2018)
- Pages: 1104 pages
17. World War Captivating Guide Including Versailles
The World War I captivating guide is published by captivating history. Includes a complete detailing of the war including some of the initial battles to the Treaty of Versailles. The book detail some of the changes and the rise of Nazi Germany as well as the geopolitical changes that took place throughout the war. Regardless of how the first world war is remembered, this is a book that ensures that the horrors of the first world war will not soon be forgotten. Details in this captivating history guide include some of the shots that set the stage for the war as well as what conditions were like, chemical warfare, ypres, the Christmas truce and more. A large number of important dates and battles throughout the war are covered in this complex guide that details each stage of the war effort.
- Authors: Captivating History (Author)
- Publisher: Captivating History; Illustrated Edition (December 22, 2019)
- Pages: 126 pages
18. Eyewitness Books Witness Assassination
DK eyewitness books is updated and revised with new details regarding the 100th anniversary of the great war. With an in-depth look on some of the battles that were fought in the weapons that were used, this book by Simon Adams begins with the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand and moves to what life was like in the trenches. With a complete detailing of the Treaty of Versailles as well as many pictorial references to guide the reader, this is a book on World War I that’s appropriate for younger readers between 8 to 12 years of age. The photos and examples also serve as an excellent guide for older historians as well.
- Authors: Simon Adams (Author)
- Publisher: DK Children (June 16, 2014)
- Pages: 72 pages
19. Great War on America Aftermath
The great war in America details be American experience of World War I. With a series of unexpected changes that shaped the economy of the United States and the outcomes of World War I for the United States after the war, this is an exploration of World War I from purely the American standpoint. The country had to step up and assume a global role for the first time in World War I and this book authored by Garrett Peck details some of the ways that the country was able to build some of the foundations for world peace. The great war details a map of the political changes and the way the USA was able to emerge as a true global power.
- Authors: Garrett Peck (Author)
- Publisher: Pegasus Books; Illustrated Edition (December 4, 2018)
- Pages: 448 pages
20. First World War Captivating Battle eBook
The first world war captivating battle e-book is a novel series including stories from the people and events in World War I. The battle of Somme and the battle of Verdun are covered in the two later books including the captivating guide of the first war. The topics in book one cover some of the basics of the war and book 2 and three will detail some of the most catastrophic battles of the war. With the strategies used on all sides and the in-depth details of these battles you have always wanted to know presented, you can get a truly unique perspective on World War I and these important events throughout the war.
- Authors: Captivating History (Author)
- Publisher: Captivating History; Illustrated Edition (December 22, 2019)
- Pages: 234 pages
Choosing the Best World War 1 Books
With such a wide range of books on World War I available for you to pick up, any of these nonfiction books, novels and poetry collections could be an excellent way that you could gain perspective on the first world war. Whether you’ve studied World War I before and you’re looking to further your knowledge or you would be interested in getting an in-depth knowledge of various events of the war, these are books that you can use to further your knowledge and work at becoming more of a historian on the nature of World War I. Be sure to start with these books if you are taking a history class or if you would simply like to improve your knowledge of World War I from some new and different perspectives.