What mutiny is known as the Telegraph War

  • Browse by topic
    Search our book database by subject, country, epoch, year of publication or key word.
  • Book show of the week
    Haven't you had time to read the newspaper or drop by us in the last few days? Doesn't matter, because here you can view our review notes from the last six days of publication sorted by newspaper or topic.
  • Literature supplements
    All of our notes on the book reviews in the literature supplements from FAZ, FR, NZZ, SZ, taz and Zeit.


Translated from the English by Karl and Heidi Nicolai. "I grew up with men who fought in World War I and women who had waited at home for news of them." So begins John Keegan's book about the "Great War" that was to change the face of Europe so decisively. He swept away the monarchy, but he also sprouted the dragon seeds of totalitarianism. It marked the farewell to the old "war culture" and was at the same time the birth of modernity. Keegan traces the military history of the war, the battles on the Somme, near Verdun or Tannenberg. He tells of the fighting spirit of the Americans, the collapse of the Russian army, of the iron discipline of the British, of the mutiny of the French soldiers who wanted to defend their fatherland but did not want to sacrifice themselves for an offensive against the enemy; on the progress of war technology through naval construction, submarine deployments, tank production; of the labyrinth of trenches and brotherhood between total strangers who were enemies of the war.

Review note on Frankfurter Rundschau, March 12, 2001

One of them once dared to give one of the most famous military historians a run for their money. Instead of giving a speech in praise of John Keegan's mammoth analysis of the First World War, Wolfgang Kruse hardly gives a damn about it. Apart from the fact that Keegan - in the spirit of his profession - wrote a very intensive and internationally oriented military history of this war, in the opinion of the reviewer the book has nothing to offer. At best, something memorable that should be treated with caution. Such is Keegan's pathetic way of granting the soldiers and generals of the First World War a posthumous salvation of honor. Or his tendency to idealize "the good old days" before 1914. Or Keegan's "falsification of history" by ascribing the blame for the First World War above all to Russia and Austria. And above all, the reviewer is really angry here, Keegan's portrayal of the November Revolution, which Kruse simply considers to be "low on level". Without any awareness of the problem, the author revived the stab-in-the-back legend: The "mob" around Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht would have weakened the fighting power of the German soldiers and thus responsible for the defeat. Kruse not only finds this conservative and one-sided, it also shows, according to the reviewer, that Keegan no longer has any knowledge of the current state of research. And for Keegan's final "Eloge to the Freikorps", the reviewer simply has no words.

Review note on Süddeutsche Zeitung, December 30, 2000

The balance that Werner Bührer draws after reading John Keegan's historical outline of the First World War is somewhat mixed. On the one hand, he appreciates the military historian's attention to detail and the fact that he also includes "the motivations of the 'smaller' warring parties" in his investigation. On the other hand, he is bothered by the fact that the author concentrates mainly on the actual war events and leaves out many framework factors that are part of contemporary historiography. So "the presentation seems a bit conventional", which diminishes the knowledge content of the book somewhat. In terms of content, Bührer also disagrees with Keegan on some points. When assessing German "mystical patriotism" as a counter-model to the British "sober" regimental patriotism ", he criticizes, for example, the fact that Keegan has ignored new research results on the history of mentality.
Read the review at buecher.de

Review note on Die Zeit, October 19, 2000

It was not an easy undertaking that Thomas Karlauf set out to do: to inspire a German audience for a book about the First World War. Plus for one about military history that doesn't even deal with the question of guilt! But the more Karlauf Keegan's Krupp cannons, mobilization phases, positioning strategies and the Dardanelles offensive follows, the more exciting the review becomes and the wider the view of the fate of the lack of politics opens up, which Karlauf portrays very well. His conclusion: `The panorama of senselessness that Keegan unfolds from hundreds of pages is one of the most shocking things that has ever been written about this war. '

Review note on Neue Zürcher Zeitung, October 17, 2000

In France and Great Britain, the First World War is still called the “Great”: The human losses of their armies were greater, their participation longer than in the Second World War. The leading military historian John Keegan has written a new magnum opus about it and Wolfgang Sofsky cleverly weaves into his descriptive critica magna the points in which he sees Keegan's independence from other representations: The fact that the war was no longer averted was due to the “lack of crisis management” and “mutual pressures”. Material superiority played less of a role than informational advantage, the generals themselves no longer looked through and the soldiers' loyalty was due not only to their naivety, but to an “illusion of immortality”. In passing, Sofsky reveals that Keegan misses any reference to the now diverse cultural and social history of the war. But Keegan is "rightly the master ... of the genre" of military history.