World War I Library

My World War I collection is currently composed of the following books:

Barbara Tuchman The Guns of August

Bruce I. Gudmundsson Stormtroop Tactics

Enst Jünger The Storm of Steel

The Guns of August covers the roots of the war up to the stalemate on the western front. It takes a more neutral tone towards Germany and doesn’t paint them as evil war-mongers who plotted the war – their role was a bit more ambiguous. Interesting Factoids: Germany didn’t have any war aims until after the outbreak of hostilities; the general staff didn’t think they had enough nitrates to fight a war for more than six months – then they pulled the needed nitrates out of thin air after the war started! This makes the w/if of defense in the west, invade Russia and win an attritive war look silly.

Stormtroop Tactics describes how Germany developed the tactics that rolled over the British/French trenches in Operation Michael. Because of this book I am a follower of the school of thought that artillery, not machine guns, were the dominant weapon of world war I and artillery with its reliance on rails were the reason for the stalemate. Also small unit infantry tactics were developed in World War I and used with some changes throughout World War 2 (with weapons, such as lighter machine guns, made to fit the newer tactics.) Modern small unit infantry tactics are an evolution of these. That is to say infantry tactics changed more from 1914 to 1919 than from 1919 to today.

The Storm of Steel is an excellent memoir of a German soldier on the western front confronting the horrors of war. It’s like All Quiet on the Western Front except instead of going from war is horrible to a sort of pacifistic nihilism this goes from war is horrible to an admiration of those who do their duty nevertheless. Das Boot has the pacifistic nihilism moral of All Quiet albeit more overtly.

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