It must be said the title of this book is a little misleading. Although many articles do cover the period 1915-1916, there are plenty that cover a much wider period - the impact of Jutland to 1918, the entire Mesopotamian Campaign, the American road to war and even one looking at modern attempts to record the archaeology of the war in Britain. The ‘Wider War’ also allows for some leeway, so we get an article on German command and control of the Somme, looking at how their emphasis on one key focal point for a battle allowed them to cope with a series of near-disasters and almost breakthroughs.
The individual articles are all of a high quality. The article on the Somme and Verdun looks at the long term impact of those battles, suggesting that they actually played a major role in the eventual Allied victory by inflicting crucial damage on the German army.
The article on the US attitude to the war looks at how President Wilson and his government reacted to the war when neutral, the slow growth of a belief that the US might have to enter the war and how that was handled.
The article on facial reconstruction surgery shows the benefits of having an expert centre concentrating on one skill, with various experts learning from each other and making impressively rapid progress.
The chapter on contentious objectors covers both their rather varied treatment, and the wide range of reasons for objecting to military service, and the different level of refusal, from people who were willing to serve at the front but not fight, to those who refused to change their peacetime behaviour in any way that could be seen as aiding the war effort, even by freeing someone up to do war service. There is also a rather depressing article on the treatment of war widows.
As is always the case with this sort of book, the wide range of topics means that there isn’t a really clear overall theme, but the individual articles are fascinating, and more than make up for that.
1 – The Dardanelles/ Gallipoli Campaign: Concept, Delivery and Experience, Peter Liddle
2 – 'Toothless Lions': Firepower and Equipment in the British Army on the Western Front, 1915, Spencer Jones
3 – 'A Second Trafalgar?' Jutland and is Impact, 1916-18, Duncan Redford
4 – The Trauma of Attrition: Verdun and the Somme, William Philpott
5 – German Command and Control on the Somme, 1916, Jack Sheldon
6 – Soldiers and Politicians in Strife: The Case of Henry Wilson in 1915, Gary Sheffield and John Spencer
7 – Integration, Stabilisation and Aggression: The Royal Flying Corps, the Western Front and the Control of the Air in 1915 and early 1916, James Pugh
8 – The Indian Army and the Mesopotamian Campaign, 1914-1918, Robert Johnson
9 – Reluctant Warriors: American, 1914-17 – The President, his Men and his Circumstances, James Cooke
10 –How Committed Was Halifax to the Great War? David Millichope
11 – The Mobilisation of Halifax Industry, David Millichope
12 – The Great War in 1916: a Challenge to Faith?, Adrian Gregory
13 – Facial Surgery, Rehabilitation and the Impact of Medical Specialisation, Andrew Bamji
14 – British Telecommunications History in the First World War, Kapil Subramanian and Graeme Gooday
15 – 'Any little article I would be pleased to have': The Experience of British Widows of the First World War, Andrea Hetherington
16 – 'Keeping the Home Fires Burning': Women's Support for British Servicemen, Jessica Meyer
17 – Alfred Pollard VC: Valour in the Trenches, N.S. Nash
18 – A 'Teenage' War: British Youngsters and the Great War, Nick Bosanquet
19 – Conscription, Conscience and Courage: Resisting War from 1916, Clive Barret
20 – Drawing on the Front Line, Juliet Macdonald
21 – Vestiges of the Home Front: An Archaeological Approach to Recording the Great War Landscape in Britain, Emily Glass and Nicholas J Saunders
Editor: Peter Liddle