With the recent anniversary of World War I eruption, I was inspired to write yet one another article in My Passion for History series. Of course, focused on that conflict and sources I am using to gather more information regarding the prelude, actual battles and its impact on the post-war situation.
You will not find below any kind of deep historical analysis of one of the most tragic periods in human history – simply it is too vast for one blog entry – but you might be sure that if you follow any of proposed below media, you will enrich your knowledge enormously.
Other articles in the series: My Passion for History – World War II (Operation Overlord & D-Day) My Passion for History – Ancient Greece (Peloponesian Wars) My passion for History – together through epochs – Europa Universalis IV My passion for History – together through epochs – Hearts of Iron IV
As usually I will start with most classic medium – the books. I find them an indispensable source of knowledge, providing you with insights no digital medium can convey. My two choices are:
Both The First World War by Martin Gilbert and The Great War by Peter Hart are recognized classics, providing vast amounts of information, details and first person perspective about the conflict. When you read it and familiarize with realities of the trench warfare, shell-shock, gas attacks, etc. the whole conflict becomes much more close and personal. It is not anymore statistical exercise in causalities numbers but story of people’s suffering as well as great political mechanisms which lead to it. You will for sure not regret getting any of above positions.
As this is a boardgames blog, it is obvious that I will also recommend some titles in that area. Today I would like to present two – although I am aware that there are tons of others. Those two simply have a great appeal to me. One will be on strategic level and the other will touch the tactical trench warfare.
Paths of Glory @GMTGames
Paths of Glory was one of my first wargames and definitely the beginning of my love for the Card Driven Games (CDGs). I had opportunity to play it multiple times, including full, 20-turn campaign game. The title is fantastic in depicting the World War I on a strategy level and its cards and events make it very thematic. Should you be wondering where to start your journey with boardgames of WWI period, that will be the place.
The Great War @PSC
Fantastic variant of the Commands & Colors system, which in details shows the reality of the Western Front. While by many deemed impossible, Richard Borg created dynamic, exciting and engrossing game of trench warfare. While not the easiest variant of the system, it is still comparatively medium complexity wargame, which can be taught pretty quickly. Again, strongly recommended – great minis included!
The YouTube Channel
I have learned about The Great War channel in 2014 completely by chance, just browsing through internet. Some guy, called Indy Neidell, was announcing he will be doing – on 100 anniversary of the conflict – The Great War in real time, providing episode each week about the developments of the conflict.
The idea was a tremendous success, mainly thanks to the main face of the channel – Indy himself – but also due to devoted group of supporters. We got tons of special materials, regarding the weapons, personalities, factions, countries, social impact, etc. Really, I cannot recommend more what was provided by that great group – definitely check it!
PS. As in 2018 the material for The Great War in real time was practically exhausted, Indy and crew created two new channels you might be willing to check on: TimeGhost History and World War Two.
Hardcore History 50-55 – Blueprint for Armageddon Series
While Indy Neidell is my “to-go” historian on YouTube, Dan Carlin is definitely the best podcast creator I encountered so far. Great voice, interesting stories, tons of exclusive materials – all of this not restricted by time limits (beware, some of the episodes have like 3-4 hours in length!) And what is more – you can listen to this while commuting to work or driving the car. Just try some of the free content on Dan’s page – you will not be able to stop listening to him!
Of course, the most still popular medium – movies – has great and extensive library of productions regarding The Great War. I would like to recommend two:
- They Shall not Grow Old – A great and truly tragic documentary about World War I with never-before-seen footage to commemorate the centennial of the end of the war.
- 1917 – you can almost call it a blockbuster movie. Created with great momentum, tells the story of two soldiers assigned to race against time and deliver a message that will stop 1,600 men from walking straight into a deadly trap. True, a real Hollywood movie with some lax on history but very enjoyable to watch!
The TV Series
I am sure you are not surprised 🙂 Everything what I presented so far was deadly serious – as the conflict was a really tragic and disastrous affair. But a pinch of good, seasoned English humor would be a good addition I think. And who can be better than the fantastic Blackadder played by Rowan Atkinson? Just watch the last scene of the series – or better, the whole series…
To end the article well, some great music from my favorite history-themed band – Sabaton. They created a lot of interesting songs about the period like Cliffs Of Gallipoli, The Lost Battalion, Angel’s Calling with one album completely devoted to this conflict – The Great War. Still, my favorite is below:
There is no doubt that World War I was a great human tragedy – which, what is worse, did not solve any of the underlying problems as merely two decades later we had even larger calamity. As you can see, my interests goes way beyond pure military maneuvers. I want to know what led people to such a calamitous behaviors, what was the impact on society, technology, all aspects of life. I hope that above article will provide you with interesting set of materials to better familiarize with that The Great War. And see a human dimension under purely militaristic and political surfaces.
Ah, ah… I’m also about to start my first game of Path of Glory and I’m also on the fascinating topic of WWI (so close from us). As a reading, I would really recommend you “A World Undone” which I’m currentl reading : excellent book on the topic of WWI with chronological structure alternating background (on the different empires, countries) and description of events !
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I heard this is great book, will for sure add to my Wishlist!
Well done very nice article a good read
With regards to first world war book can I recommend for an overall look 2 books
A: The First World War by John Keegan
B: For a German prospective The First World War: Germany and Austria-Hungary 1914-1918 by Holger H. Herwig
For the Naval side the excellent 5 volume series From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow by Arthur Jacob Marder or if you want just a one volume history A Naval History of World War I by Paul G Halpern
For the Air War two books The First Air War 1914-1918 by Lee Kennett or the very good book Marked for Death by James Hamilton-Paterson
And finally, the Huw Strachan unfinished masterpiece The First world War volume 1 To Arms
We can but hope that volume 2 and 3 will appear one day
As to WW1 Games what else can I recommend but the five volumes of the Der Weltkrieg WWI wargame series designed by David Schroeder and published by SPW/Decision games.
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Thank you for those recommendations, I will for sure check them!