'One of the first books that anyone should read in beginning to try to understand this war and this century.' - New York Times Book Review.
It was to be the war to end all wars and it began at 11.15 on the morning of June 28, 1914, in an outpost of the Austro-Hungarian Empire called Sarajevo. It would end officially almost five years later. Unoffically, it has never ended: The horrors we live with today were born in the First World War.
It left millions - civilians and soldiers - maimed or dead. And it left us with new technologies of death: tanks, planes and submarines; reliable rapid-fire machine guns, poison gas and chemical warfare. It introduced us to unrestricted war on civilians and mistreatment of prisoners.
Most of all, it changed our world. In its wake, empires toppled, monarchies fell, whole populations lost their national indentities as political systems and geographic boundaries relaligned. Instabilities were institutionalised, enmities enshrined. Manners, mores, codes of behaviour, literature, education and class distinctions - all underwent a vast sea change. In all these ways, the twentieth century can be said to have been born on the morning of June 28, 1914.
Written by one of our generation's most respected historians, it charts the Great War from its inception with a rigorous attention to dates, facts and statistics but coloured in with human perspective and poetry - BIG ISSUE IN THE NORTH
Martin Gilbert is the Official Biographer of Sir Winston Churchill; his prolific output on this subject includes the one-volume biography, Churchill: A Life. Among his other books are: First World War, Second World War, D-Day and The Day the War Ended, as well as a magisterial three-volume History of The Twentieth Century, and twelve historical atlases. Martin Gilbert was knighted in 1995. Two years later he was awarded a Doctorate of Literature at Oxford University for the totality of his historical work.