The First World War: An Illustrated History - 1963

Front Cover, The First World War: An Illustrated History by A. J. P. Taylor, 1963.

Front Cover, The First World War: An Illustrated History by A. J. P. Taylor, 1963. GGA Image ID # 17dfc34d28

Alan John Percivale (AJP) Taylor, The First World War: An Illustrated History,  © 1963, 1970, Perigee Books, New York, Soft cover, 296 Pages, 0-399-50260-2. Dimensions (in inches): 0.79 x 7.67 x 5.20.

In his most entertaining, succinct, and critical style, Mr. Taylor has produced a concise history of World War I. Supporting the text are 14 maps and 220 photographs, chosen with obvious discretion and poignantly captioned.

The author discusses the military campaigns in terms of the ineptitude of the generals on both sides and concentrates on the strategy of the major campaigns, rather than the tactics of individual battles. It concludes with a brief discussion of the peace settlement and the League of Nations.

-- Military Review, Volume 45, Part 2, February 1965, p. 110.

Back Cover, The First World War: An Illustrated History by A. J. P. Taylor, 1963. GGA Image ID #

From the Back Cover

A rare event in historical writing—a world-renowned historian combines personally selected illustrations with a brilliant text to present an integrated, clearly reasoned narrative of the Great War.

The book describes and analyzes the entire compass and course of World War I—from Sarajevo to Versailles, from the Easter Rising in Ireland to the Russian Revolution, from Gallipoli to the bloody fighting on the eastern and western fronts.

The photographs—more than 220, many never before published— were chosen with meticulous care from such archives as the Imperial War Museum, Bibliothèque National and the National Archives in Washington in order to amplify and to illuminate Mr. Taylor’s masterly text. There have been many books on the First World War, but never before have words and illustrations been married so effectively.

About the Author

A. J. P. Taylor was born in Lancashire in 1906. He is a fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, and until recently lectured there on modern history. His books include The Hapsburg Monarchy, The Course of German History, The Struggle for Mastery in Europe, Bismark, and The Origins of The Second World War.


The First World War cut deep into the consciousness of modern man. It reshaped the political order in Europe. Its memorials stand in every town and village.

Half a century afterwards the experiences of it are not stilled. Each episode provides the subject for new books, many of them best sellers. My aim has been to see the war in historical perspective.

I have tried to explain what the war was about ; particularly, to resolve the paradox that men were passionately engaged in the war and hated it at the same time.

Each country fought ostensibly to defend itself yet sought also to conquer and to make great gains. The statesmen were overwhelmed by the magnitude of events.

The generals were overwhelmed also. Mass, they believed, was the secret of victory. The mass they evoked was beyond their control. All fumbled more or less helplessly.

They were pilots without a chart, blown before the storm and not knowing where to seek harbour. The unknown soldier was the hero of the First World War. He has vanished, except as a cipher, from the written records. He lives again in the photographs.

War has always been the mother of invention. Historical photographs are among her children. Photography was raised from its infancy by the Crimean War.

The pictures which Fenton took in the Crimea are the finest of his artistic creations. The Boer War was captured for posterity by the camera. These wars were far away.

In the First World War, the camera could record the life of Everyman. It shows the statesmen and generals, on parade and off it. It shows the instruments of destruction.

Photographs take us into the trenches and the munitions factories. We see again the devastated country-side and the queues for food. Here are the men who fought, suffered, and died ; the human beings behind the ringing phrases.

Thanks to the camera, we can relive the First World War, and not merely read about it. There were thousands of photographs from which to make a selection. We have thrown out ten for every one which we put in.

Some, though well-known, imposed themselves. Many have not been used before. In the narrative, the war is an academic exercise, as remote from present experience as the great war of Troy.

The illustrations show roen. This war was our war too. Maybe, if w-e can understand d better, we can come nearer to being, what the men of that time were not, masters of our own destiny.

Library of Congress Catalog Listing

  • LC Control No.: 64010878
  • Type of Material: Book (Print, Microform, Electronic, etc.)
  • Personal Name: Taylor, A. J. P. (Alan John Percivale), 1906-1990.
  • Main Title: Illustrated history of the First World War [by] A. J. P. Taylor.
  • Edition Information: [1st American ed.]
  • Published/Created: New York, Putnam [1964, c1963]
  • Description: 224 p. illus., maps, ports. 24 cm.
  • Notes: First ed. published in London in 1963 under title: The First World War.
  • Subjects: World War, 1914-1918 --Pictorial works.
  • LC Classification: D522 .T3 1964
  • Dewey Class No.: 940.3
  • Other System No.: (OCoLC)253080
  • Quality Code: premarc
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