Sir Max Hastings has written a marvelous book about those first months of 1914, reviewed here by yours truly. Another of my favorite British military historians, Sir Hew Strachen, has also taken a keen interest in this war and has written a doorstop on the beginning of the war, that is on my to-read list...someday...when I have a lot of time...it's quite the door stop. Sir Hew is also quite the strategic thinker, and has also written an excellent volume on many current issues facing western militaries in the post Afghanistan era..also reviewed by yours truly.
In this book, recently re-published for the 100th anniversary of the start of the "war to end all wars", Sir Hew Strachen has updated his excellent anthology of essays covering all aspects of this highly important conflict and written by a gaggle of top historians. I will say that this is NOT a beginners history of the war. The essays are all very rich is substance, but they all assume a pretty in-depth knowledge of the general facts of the war. It is certainly NOT a narrative history, although the essays do mesh well, and to a certain extent many build off each other. The essays on the strategic planning and motivations for both the Allied and Central Powers are particularly fascinating...the chapters of socialism and the home-front politics, a little less so, at least for me.
Keeping in the new-found spirit of wrapping gender, social, and cultural studies into EVERY historical topic, (something I detest most of the time) there were essays on women, propaganda, and the societal changes wrought by the war that were at least tolerable for this ol' Neanderthal historian.
All in all, this is a fine addition to a World War I bookshelf, but is not for beginners.