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Pandora’s Box: A History of World War I

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In this monumental history of World War I, Germany's leading historian of the twentieth century's first great catastrophe explains the war's origins, course, and consequences. With an unrivaled combination of depth and global reach, Pandora's Box reveals how profoundly the war shaped the world to come. Jorn Leonhard treats the clash of arms with a sure feel for grand strate In this monumental history of World War I, Germany's leading historian of the twentieth century's first great catastrophe explains the war's origins, course, and consequences. With an unrivaled combination of depth and global reach, Pandora's Box reveals how profoundly the war shaped the world to come. Jorn Leonhard treats the clash of arms with a sure feel for grand strategy, the everyday tactics of dynamic movement and slow attrition, the race for ever more destructive technologies, and the grim experiences of frontline soldiers. But the war was much more than a military conflict, or an exclusively European one. Leonhard renders the perspectives of leaders, intellectuals, artists, and ordinary men and women on diverse home fronts as they grappled with the urgency of the moment and the rise of unprecedented political and social pressures. And he shows how the entire world came out of the war utterly changed. Postwar treaties and economic turbulence transformed geopolitics. Old empires disappeared or confronted harsh new constraints, while emerging countries struggled to find their place in an age of instability. At the same time, sparked and fueled by the shock and suffering of war, radical ideologies in Europe and around the globe swept away orders that had seemed permanent, to establish new relationships among elites, masses, and the state. Heralded on its publication in Germany as a masterpiece of historical narrative and analysis, Pandora's Box makes clear just what dangers were released when the guns first fired in the summer of 1914.


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In this monumental history of World War I, Germany's leading historian of the twentieth century's first great catastrophe explains the war's origins, course, and consequences. With an unrivaled combination of depth and global reach, Pandora's Box reveals how profoundly the war shaped the world to come. Jorn Leonhard treats the clash of arms with a sure feel for grand strate In this monumental history of World War I, Germany's leading historian of the twentieth century's first great catastrophe explains the war's origins, course, and consequences. With an unrivaled combination of depth and global reach, Pandora's Box reveals how profoundly the war shaped the world to come. Jorn Leonhard treats the clash of arms with a sure feel for grand strategy, the everyday tactics of dynamic movement and slow attrition, the race for ever more destructive technologies, and the grim experiences of frontline soldiers. But the war was much more than a military conflict, or an exclusively European one. Leonhard renders the perspectives of leaders, intellectuals, artists, and ordinary men and women on diverse home fronts as they grappled with the urgency of the moment and the rise of unprecedented political and social pressures. And he shows how the entire world came out of the war utterly changed. Postwar treaties and economic turbulence transformed geopolitics. Old empires disappeared or confronted harsh new constraints, while emerging countries struggled to find their place in an age of instability. At the same time, sparked and fueled by the shock and suffering of war, radical ideologies in Europe and around the globe swept away orders that had seemed permanent, to establish new relationships among elites, masses, and the state. Heralded on its publication in Germany as a masterpiece of historical narrative and analysis, Pandora's Box makes clear just what dangers were released when the guns first fired in the summer of 1914.

30 review for Pandora’s Box: A History of World War I

  1. 4 out of 5

    James Murphy

    Though I finished Pandora's Box a week ago, I'm in an unusually busy time and am just now sitting to set down some impressions. I'm aware that the end of this week will mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. It's also occurred to me that perhaps it took that long for such an encyclopedic, all-inclusive one-volume history of the war to be published. Leonhard's study is amazing in its exhaustive analysis of all aspects of the war. I've read many books on the subject but was Though I finished Pandora's Box a week ago, I'm in an unusually busy time and am just now sitting to set down some impressions. I'm aware that the end of this week will mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. It's also occurred to me that perhaps it took that long for such an encyclopedic, all-inclusive one-volume history of the war to be published. Leonhard's study is amazing in its exhaustive analysis of all aspects of the war. I've read many books on the subject but was gobsmacked by the thoroughness of Leonhard's history and his incisive interpretation of events. There aren't enough stars in the Goodreads system for this book. If you're going to read a book about the war, it should be this one, probably already the definitive history of 1914-1918 and probably the only history of the war we need at this time in the 21st century, his assessment of the events, causes, effects, and aftermath of the war almost everything we need to know. This isn't a military history. All the major military operations are touched on, even to describing conditions in the trenches, even a few details of individual experiences. However, for the most part military operations of the war are reported from a bird's-eye view. Politics, diplomacy, social pressures, economic instability, the rise and fall of national cohesions, the development of new technologies, and the rise of new ideologies are only some of the topics receiving wide-ranging focus in the book. As I say, I've read a number of books on the war but was surprised time and again by new perspectives presented to me. Just considering the end of the war--and the end of the book--we've always read that America's entry into the war created the added military forces and brute industrial power allowing Britain and France to withstand the German 1918 offensives. I've never read a clearer, more thorough analysis of how and why than that Leonhard writes. Have you ever thought of Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points as an ideology? The case is made for a Europe caught between the ideologies of Wilson and V. I. Lenin and that in the end Germany opted for the idealism of Wilson because they feared Bolshevism. The book told me many things I'd not considered or known before. One aspect Leonhard spends time on is his explanations for why the war ended in western Europe yet continued in the east until 1923 in some cases amid the turmoil of collapsing empires and the rearranging of ethnicities into new states. These are only a few of the fascinating analytical frames of reference brought into focus to describe how the war ended. One thing that sets Pandora's Box apart from most other histories of the war, I think, is that he writes without moral agenda. Because Leonhard, as historian, is forced to think--and to make us think--of fatal landscape not only in terms of the desolated western front but also of the blasted politics unearthed in the period 1914-1918, his history seems a vast confessional leaning toward redemptive promise, though the historian knows transgression is repetitive. He knows where we've been and why we were there, and he offers no excuses for the relapse 20 years later, only reasons for it. Other histories of the war are left delinquent and profane in the majesty of his scholarship. After reading all the First World War histories of our past, we realize Leonhard's clear conclusions are our logical destination. I'd say this is essential reading for anyone interested in the war. Though physically big at 907 pages of text, it's also enormous in its understanding of the many influences and pressure points determining events during the war. I highly recommend it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    For the English-language reader today there is no shortage of histories surveying the First World War. Thanks to the centenary, several new volumes have been added to the fine books written over the years, giving readers a choice of works ranging from those of contemporary authors such as Winston Churchill, C.R.M.F. Cruttwell, and B.H. Liddell Hart to more modern studies by historians such as John Keegan, Hew Strachan, David Stevenson, and G. J. Meyer. Yet even when these authors have pursued a For the English-language reader today there is no shortage of histories surveying the First World War. Thanks to the centenary, several new volumes have been added to the fine books written over the years, giving readers a choice of works ranging from those of contemporary authors such as Winston Churchill, C.R.M.F. Cruttwell, and B.H. Liddell Hart to more modern studies by historians such as John Keegan, Hew Strachan, David Stevenson, and G. J. Meyer. Yet even when these authors have pursued a balanced approach and incorporated available German-language sources into their account, they usually have an inherent British or Allied focus resulting from a combination of factors. This is just one reason why Jörn Leonhard's book stands out as a history of the conflict. Originally published in German in 2014, its translation into English offers readers of the language a survey of the war from an historian coming from a perspective rooted in a different set of sources and influences than those of his British and American counterparts. Yet this is just one of the many distinguishing characteristics of his fine work, which offers what is easily the most comprehensive single-volume history of the war yet written. Within its pages he offers an account that begins with an examination of the factors that lead to the war and ends with its postwar legacy. Along the way he discusses the war in all of its myriad aspects, from the politics and economics of the conflict to its effects on society and culture. No front is left unexamined, and all of it is integrated into a narrative that moves with considerable fluidity from topic to topic. The result is a work that is massive in scope yet one that offers an insightful account of the war that defined the 20th century. There is little that escapes his coverage, which is informed throughout by a perspective that will be fresh for many English-language readers of the war. It makes for a book that has set the new standard by which histories of the First World War are judged, and one likely to remain the standard for some time to come.

  3. 4 out of 5

    David C Ward

    A tour de force: gigantic and comprehensive: covers virtually everything, not just about the War militarily, in a genuinely international, multidisciplinary history. Never knew, for instance, that casualties in the eastern front were higher than on the more familiar (for an American) western one. Continually insightful in an almost off handed way: for instance, gives a much more complex reading to the USAs entry into the war then the usual “fresh Americans tipped the balance for exhausted Europe A tour de force: gigantic and comprehensive: covers virtually everything, not just about the War militarily, in a genuinely international, multidisciplinary history. Never knew, for instance, that casualties in the eastern front were higher than on the more familiar (for an American) western one. Continually insightful in an almost off handed way: for instance, gives a much more complex reading to the USAs entry into the war then the usual “fresh Americans tipped the balance for exhausted Europeans.” Points to the contradiction of Wilsonian internationalism and his economic nationalism (as well as his racial attitudes), seed bed of trouble then at Versailles and later in the century - and now for that matter. Stylistically and organizationally it is very clear but it is long, incredibly detailed and requires an effort to read it. The author is German but it is not written from a national or nationalistic point of view but in the tradition of 19th century Germanic historiography. I’d be curious to know how long it took to translate this, let alone write it!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Chad Menard

    A riveting all encompassing look at the Great War and its devastating effects on the nations, communities and individuals that took part in it. Highly recommend for any one (amateur or academic) interested in a general but thorough overview of the cause, duration and aftermath of the war. My only criticism is that I found several typos in the English translation (hardcover).

  5. 5 out of 5

    Gabriel Gale

    The book should have been titled "A political history of the First world war" As a military history book it has a number of flaws and some irritating mistakes (General Brusilov did not join the whites, for example, and armored cruisers are not pocket battleships). It offers some good insight regarding the evolution of the political situation, both national and international.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Andreas

    http://andheu.com/2016/01/06/die-buec... http://andheu.com/2016/01/06/die-buec...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Justin

    Pandora’s Box is a truly impressive work and well worth the investment of time to read it. This is the single most comprehensive history of the First World War that I’ve read, and Leonhard makes sure that the whole scope of the war is captured and from all sides. The war was complex and nuanced, and he handles that well. There were so many overlapping conflicts - especially the Russian Revolution - and he weaves them in too. The best thing about this book is that the perspective is not dominated Pandora’s Box is a truly impressive work and well worth the investment of time to read it. This is the single most comprehensive history of the First World War that I’ve read, and Leonhard makes sure that the whole scope of the war is captured and from all sides. The war was complex and nuanced, and he handles that well. There were so many overlapping conflicts - especially the Russian Revolution - and he weaves them in too. The best thing about this book is that the perspective is not dominated by the British view, unlike most work about the First World War that I have found. This is not an easy read, however. The language is dense and complex (note I read the English translation), and Leonhard does not follow the narrative structure of Anglo-American historians. Each chapter covers a year of the war, but within those, he looks at different themes and aspects associated with that year as sub-chapters. These can cover all sorts, including discussions of philosophical aspects. I learned so many interesting things in this book. I was surprised at how all sides were so close to collapse in 1917. Indeed, local successes by the Austro-Hungarians at Caporetto almost led to a total collapse of Italy. The French army became unable to launch offensives for the rest of the year after the mutinies in Spring 1917, and the British were in a similar position by the end of 1917. The Russians completely collapsed and withdrew, the country wracked by internal problems caused by the war. All sides were exhausted and running out of soldiers. Only the entry of the USA tipped the balance to the Allies. However, since August and September 1914 - the bloodiest months of the war - no side was willing to consider a compromise peace, lest the tremendous cost in lives be considered a waste. Only when the Germans were unable to replace casualties by October 1918 did they consider reaching out to Woodrow Wilson for peace talks. Some other interesting facts I recall (mainly so that I can remember them): The cost of killing one Central Powers soldier came to $14,300, against $4,500 for one Allied soldier. 77% of French soldiers called up were killed, captured or wounded (and this was less than Germany). The legacy of the war was awful, and the fighting and killing persisted in east and southeast Europe until 1923. Ethnic minorities were killed, expelled or persecuted in the new natron-states in the formerly multiethnic empires, with Jews targeted particularly hard. Prisoners of war found themselves with no country to return to after the breakup of the Habsburg and Ottoman empires. Soldiers of the new nation-states who had fought for these empires were inconveniences to the new national narratives and forgotten. Vast numbers of veterans from all participating countries returned home to unemployment (they had lost their jobs on call-up), broken countries, and an often unsympathetic populace. The middle classes had been hit particularly hard, as industrial workers had been protected for the war effort. The peace treaties pleased no one and set the stage for future conflict (Turkey violently resisted the first treaty that was applied to them). Expectations had been set high across the board and heavy disillusionment set in when they were inevitably not met. This was particularly the case with promises of national self-determination, or other often contradictory promises made to bring allies on board. Participation of many national groups, like the Irish and Indians but with all participating countries, had been in the hope of winning greater rights. When this didn’t happen for those two examples, Ireland erupted into civil war, and India saw massacres of protesters against British rule. The whole of the course of the 20th century seems to have been affected by the First World War, particularly the tragedies of that century, and it is amazing how much this has generally been overlooked. This makes Pandora’s Box a particularly important read, to understand the history since.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Morrissey

    Leonhard's magisterial and meandering portrait of the First World War reads like a well-written encyclopedia (meaning as both a compliment and critique). The book tracks all of the military, social, political, economic, and cultural changes unleashed by the proverbial pandora's box that was the Great War (1914-18). Each year of the war is covered in great detail, with insights on everything from the literature that sprung up through the war to the failure of the Sclieffen Plan and the re-orienta Leonhard's magisterial and meandering portrait of the First World War reads like a well-written encyclopedia (meaning as both a compliment and critique). The book tracks all of the military, social, political, economic, and cultural changes unleashed by the proverbial pandora's box that was the Great War (1914-18). Each year of the war is covered in great detail, with insights on everything from the literature that sprung up through the war to the failure of the Sclieffen Plan and the re-orientation of generals towards positional trench warfare until the last months of 1918. Leonhard tracks developments in each society exhaustively - Great Britain; France; Germany; Austria-Hungary; Italy; Russia; the Ottoman Empire; and many more. However, one should note that the book is light on military tactical history, and is best read in conjunction with such military histories as John Keegan's "The First World War," While there are many take-aways from the Great War, perhaps the most enduring and painful lesson is the raising and crushing of expectations. Trust in liberal democratic organizations and structures was smashed apart by slaughters at Verdun, the Somme, and Flanders. Men were asked to die for the sake of continuing the war, for the sake of not leaving their peers as vainless victims of a war. Wilsonian nationalism and Leninist communism fired the imaginations of peoples disillusioned by a world turned bloody, mechanical, and distinctly un-human. We may today live in a world directly influenced by the end of the Second World War. However, it is useless to try to understand the current global order without understanding the dissolution of the old order in the maw of the First World War.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rob Shurmer

    perhaps Leonhard doesn't have a deep enough knowledge of the actual military conflict, but he hauls out the old lines about 19th-century tactics and 20th-century technology, going so far as to say that only in 1917-18 were new methods of conducting the war explored. This is simply not true. Due it seems to the imbalance of casualties suffered vis-a-vis the French army, Leonhard gives little credit to the small British Expeditionary Force -- only six divisions as compared toeighty-two of the Frenc perhaps Leonhard doesn't have a deep enough knowledge of the actual military conflict, but he hauls out the old lines about 19th-century tactics and 20th-century technology, going so far as to say that only in 1917-18 were new methods of conducting the war explored. This is simply not true. Due it seems to the imbalance of casualties suffered vis-a-vis the French army, Leonhard gives little credit to the small British Expeditionary Force -- only six divisions as compared toeighty-two of the French! -- which was effectively destroyed in its fighting retreat from Belgium in Autumn of 1914 but played a crucial role in wrecking the Schlieffen Plan and saving Paris. Leonhard seems to write quickly beyond the actual fighting in order to dwell upon 'symbolic representations' and 'collective memories'. It appears that he relies upon secondary sources for most of his military information, reaching his own conclusions that don't exactly line up with most accounts. For example, attributing the British failure at Gallipoli to an underestimation of the Turkish army. That well may be, but shouldn't their be some discussion at least of the failures of British command or a mention of the topography of the battlefield? And many of these sources upon which he draws some major conclusions might be considered less than scholarly. John Baynes anyone? In a text of 900 pages, it is astonishing that Leonhard's narrative constantly meanders from one point to the next without much extensive explanation or systematic discussion. The Gallipoli Campaign, for example, gets barely five pages. Some sloppy errors such as misspelling Suvla Bay (printed "Suval")

  10. 4 out of 5

    Peter Bradley

    Pandora's Box by Jorn Leonhard https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-re... Peter Jackson's "They Shall Not Grow Old" sparked a belated interest in World War I. I say belated because I saw the movie and read this book in 2019, not during the centennial of World War I, which was strangely muted. This book covers World War I from soup to nuts. It starts off with history leading up to World War 1 and then moves into the war on a year by year, country by country, battlefield and home front basis. This prov Pandora's Box by Jorn Leonhard https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-re... Peter Jackson's "They Shall Not Grow Old" sparked a belated interest in World War I. I say belated because I saw the movie and read this book in 2019, not during the centennial of World War I, which was strangely muted. This book covers World War I from soup to nuts. It starts off with history leading up to World War 1 and then moves into the war on a year by year, country by country, battlefield and home front basis. This provides the reader with an immersion in the experience of the war and provides a greater appreciation for what the people living through it went through as they realized that the romantic ideas of the war that they had at the beginning turned into a horrifying reality. There are a lot of details in this book that explains how Word War 1 evolved. One of the details that surprised me was that according to the author there was not a great outpouring of enthusiasm for the war by the majority of Europeans. Whatever war enthusiasm there was remained mostly in the large cities. In the countryside, the war was looked at with trepidation. I listened to this as an audible book I did not have any problems with comprehension. The text remained captivating and informative at all times.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Joe A

    This is a very good single volume history of the First World War. The author is German, and by that very fact has a unique point of few (the other histories I have on the subject were all British or American). The point of view is not necessarily pro or con but simply different. The First World War has always fascinated me. It started not because of an assassination of the heir to the Hapsburg throne, but because those in power feared losing prestige. Negotiating a peaceful solution instead of l This is a very good single volume history of the First World War. The author is German, and by that very fact has a unique point of few (the other histories I have on the subject were all British or American). The point of view is not necessarily pro or con but simply different. The First World War has always fascinated me. It started not because of an assassination of the heir to the Hapsburg throne, but because those in power feared losing prestige. Negotiating a peaceful solution instead of listening to those (on all sides) that believed failure to attack was weakness and would mean national loss of reputation. There were no defined war aims. As the war progressed both sides found themselves in a trap. As the casualties grew to incomprehensible numbers and the destruction ruined economies anything short of victory would have been seen by the population as a repudiation of the dead’s sacrifice. So, no negotiated peace was possible from 1916 on. The scope was truly global, In the end the world would never be the same again and the seeds of a second greater catastrophe were planted. The author’s approach to time line is suited to the topic.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Geoffrey Gordon

    The causes of World War I are so complex that new books about its origins are released all the time, it lasted five long years with fronts all over Europe and battles extending to the Middle East and North Africa, it caused social and political upheavals in all of the empires that took part, and we still live with the consequences of its resolutions. Writing a one volume history of the war that covers all of this ground is an enormously ambitious undertaking. Leonhard's book is a tour de force, The causes of World War I are so complex that new books about its origins are released all the time, it lasted five long years with fronts all over Europe and battles extending to the Middle East and North Africa, it caused social and political upheavals in all of the empires that took part, and we still live with the consequences of its resolutions. Writing a one volume history of the war that covers all of this ground is an enormously ambitious undertaking. Leonhard's book is a tour de force, covering the political origins, the military history of the battles themselves, the social and political histories of the strains that war mobilization put on the multiethnic empires that took part, and a thorough analysis of the war's geopolitical legacies, which stretched far beyond Europe itself. If you're looking for just a blow-by-blow account of the major battles of World War I, you will probably want to look elsewhere. But if you're interested in understanding this epochal event in all of its complexity, it would be difficult to beat this remarkably erudite work. It's quite an accomplishment.

  13. 5 out of 5

    R. Clark

    Pandora's Box is a truly great book—expansive, monumental, and nuanced—on the Great War. This is not a narrative history. Instead, Leonhard proceeds to explore particular dimensions of the war like communication, representations, political erosion, etc., year-by-year. This book is not just about the fighting of the belligerent nations but the effects of the war on global political, economic, social, technological, and intellectual domains. Leonhard is uninterested in making simplistic historical Pandora's Box is a truly great book—expansive, monumental, and nuanced—on the Great War. This is not a narrative history. Instead, Leonhard proceeds to explore particular dimensions of the war like communication, representations, political erosion, etc., year-by-year. This book is not just about the fighting of the belligerent nations but the effects of the war on global political, economic, social, technological, and intellectual domains. Leonhard is uninterested in making simplistic historical claims: readers will not glean which country should be assigned blame for the war or who acted morally. Rather, this is a meticulous account of the changing nature of each of the various domains during the war. The writing is austere but very clear and readable. Leonhard employs a special repertoire of vocabulary like "autonomous logics," "dynamics," "pre-past," "tectonics," and so on that characterize his approach to making sense of the war. This is a book for understanding the war in its totality, for it examines not only the causes of the war but its asynchronous ending and many consequences which were manifested in civil wars, political collapses, and new ethnic conflicts after 1918. There are so many important conclusions in the book, but I will endeavour to state a few of the chief subjects of the book. Leonhard is first interested in rethinking master narratives he believed to be false or at least over-simplified. He challenges the idea of M.A.I.N. (Militarism, Alliances, Imperialism, Nationalism) as the cause of WWI that I learned in middle school with brief but persuasive arguments. A key lesson is that contrary to the popular historiographies, the pre-war blocs were highly ambiguous and tensions existed between allies—this served to encourage new countries to enter the war as they could always perceive the global situation as being more favorable than it was in the absence of clear diplomatic messaging. Leonhard also emphasizes that the war was not inevitable: the idea of world peace became popular in the 20th century, prior conflicts in Europe had been successfully contained, Socialist labor groups were strongly pacifist, and new rational arguments against the war from Ivan Bloch and Norman Angell were bestsellers. There were no pre-defined war aims and the war escalated through myopic military logics about the demands of mobilization and transportation networks rather than long-term strategy. A pattern in the war is the convergence of nineteenth-century-style thinking with the realities of twentieth century war. This was a lethal combination. The cult of the offensive, the idea that a powerful Napoleonic sweep could turn the tide of the war, was a major problem in strategic thinking as it ignored that WWI was essentially assymmetric: defenders always had the advantage owing to new developments in trench warfare and artillery technology. This was a persistent idea that inflated the number of casualties. Over time, all powers came to believe that all the prior deaths justified the continuation of the war. This was matched by many countries falling into extreme debt (principally Germany) as they believed they would have a complete victory in which they would dictate the terms of the peace. Anachronistic notions of chivalry were also a common feature: postcards on the home front displayed rapiers, sabers, and honorable deaths; and some soldiers even went into battle with swords at their side. The war also displayed the increasing objectification of reality. "Human material" entered into the military vocabulary and POWs were mere economic resources. WWI was like no prior war. It was a "people's war" that commanded all the resources of a society, dispensed with ideals, and demanded long, stressful periods of endurance in the trenches as well as at the home front. Another key topics of Pandora's Box is the concept of loyalty, autonomy, and domination between empowered and repressed ethnic minorities (and women) within societies. WWI catalyzed the nation-building aspirations of many ethnic groups. Loyalty was viewed by minorities as a political currency: the logic was that groups that demonstrated their loyalty to their respective nations—by fighting in the war or participating in the war economy—could then bargain for expanded political freedoms. This was seldom the case. As the original idea of Ottomanism became threatened by the expulsion of Muslims, the Balkan wars, and eventually the atmosphere of mistrust of WWI, the genocide of Armenians was a reaction to the Ottoman's humiliation during WWI. Jews faced additional persecution while Zionist ideas became increasingly popular. China made its entry into Western culture as a new source of labor for the Allies; the Chinese wished to be seen as more than a mere sphere of influence. A leitmotif of the war was the idea that industrialization had weakened soldiers from developed countries, and that Africans would overshadow white soldiers, leading to their further mistreatment. POWs also faced domination with a racist dynamic as minorities were made into amusements. The complexities of ethnic relations in multi-ethnic empires had an interesting variation in the United States, as WWI challenged ideas about the loyalties of immigrants, "Americanism," the melting pot myth, and the contrast between Woodrow Wilson's universalist ideas with the simultaneous surveillance and detainment of Germans and the exploding popularity of the Ku Klux Klan. WWI left the world a more brutal place—"the true victor of the war was war itself." New conflicts continued the war in localized forms, but new ideals, personified in Wilson and his counterpart Lenin, also spread through the world. Pandora's Box is a masterful analysis and should be read by anyone wishing to understand the First World War.

  14. 4 out of 5

    William Terry

    A good treatment of the first world war, covering all topics in depth, from military, colonial, ethnic, economic to the onrush of new technology and ideologies. The translation is good, notwithstanding some of the more abstract sections. There is more emphasis on the Central Powers through sources that haven't been translated into English than the usual Entente-centered histories.. Some knowledge of WWI on the reader's part is helpful. "Pandora's Box" is not a chronological history. The Kindle ve A good treatment of the first world war, covering all topics in depth, from military, colonial, ethnic, economic to the onrush of new technology and ideologies. The translation is good, notwithstanding some of the more abstract sections. There is more emphasis on the Central Powers through sources that haven't been translated into English than the usual Entente-centered histories.. Some knowledge of WWI on the reader's part is helpful. "Pandora's Box" is not a chronological history. The Kindle version only has chapter links, while the book is divided into subchapters, which would be great if they had links to those. All in all a fascinating book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jude

    I read the English translation of course. My knowledge of the first world war was limited to what had filtered in through novels, movies, current day news articles and I wanted to get a broad handle on the causes, the course of the war and the outcome. Everything you ever wanted to know about WWI and more is dealt with in depth and in a global context, with lessons for our current time. This is a book for academics. I had to narrow my focus and read selectively, but took several heafty bites and I read the English translation of course. My knowledge of the first world war was limited to what had filtered in through novels, movies, current day news articles and I wanted to get a broad handle on the causes, the course of the war and the outcome. Everything you ever wanted to know about WWI and more is dealt with in depth and in a global context, with lessons for our current time. This is a book for academics. I had to narrow my focus and read selectively, but took several heafty bites and came away satisfied and enlightened.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    Looking at the war from another window I found the organization of the book to be challenging. However the continuous flow of fresh ideas and perspectives kept me engaged. This should not be the first book you read about the Great War but it must be on your list. It will help you understand that after a hundred years the war still touches us.

  17. 4 out of 5

    John S Rice

    A Great and In-depth Read I chose to rate this a 5 star book. I appreciate so much the intellectual depth and detail of it. I very definitely recommend as one for the serious reader and student of The Great War.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ethan T

    I believe those who are interested with early 1900's history will be very interested in this book which touches upon the first world war and the human geography that was changed by the first world war.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Toby

    A behemoth of a book. Perhaps the best single volume history of the conflict. Leonhard patiently analyses each year, giving them their own context and feel. Ultimately an absorbing overview of the military, economic, political and social consequences of WW1.

  20. 4 out of 5

    David Akeroyd

    If you're looking for a purely military history this isn't a great book but if you've read about the war already and are looking for something that takes a larger overview and delves into a lot of other topics and other perspectives than this is an excellent work.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Caleb

    really great - only history of ww1 one needs to read except for a few others, of course. but this one really makes it rain (its rich).

  22. 5 out of 5

    Paul Taylor

    Monumental. Focuses on the politics and the sociological aspects of the War rather than the battles.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Adina

    Incredibly comprehensive and deeply depressing. Strong argument for the paramount significance of World War 1 for the unfolding of the 20th century.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Cherpeski

    This book is long, and takes a look at many facets of the war that are often overlooked. Not much on the actual battles, but a look at the politics, home front, and economy.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Craigtator

    Exhaustive and exhausting.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Moynihan

    Essentially summarizing other 5-Star comments: — German historian but you almost couldn’t tell. — A panorama of the entire war with each year given its own lengthy chapter. — Massive in scope yet extremely insightful. — The new standard for WWI history books. Relies on Alexander Rabinowitch, Robert Service and Orlando Figes for the Russian portions. All well regarded.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Dan O'Meara

    This book is not for the faint of heart, or those looking for a purely military history of WWI. Its vast scope and dry, academic tone and style will put off many readers. But this mammoth text amply rewards perseverance. Despite a somewhat stolid translation, Leonhard's book provides a wealth of detail, insight and analysis into far more than just the battles, or the geopolitics of the madness of that war. It is as complete a socio-political history as I can imagine and I learned a great deal fr This book is not for the faint of heart, or those looking for a purely military history of WWI. Its vast scope and dry, academic tone and style will put off many readers. But this mammoth text amply rewards perseverance. Despite a somewhat stolid translation, Leonhard's book provides a wealth of detail, insight and analysis into far more than just the battles, or the geopolitics of the madness of that war. It is as complete a socio-political history as I can imagine and I learned a great deal from many hours of reading.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Fernando Pestana da Costa

    This hefty book with a total of almost eleven hundred pages gives a magnificent panorama of one of the most catastrophic events in world history. Resulting in the destruction of four European empires, in the birth of about a dozen new states (or protectorates) in Europe and in the Middle East and Africa, in the killing of millions, in the unleashing of boundless violence into European political and social life for decades to come, and, last but by no means least, in being the cradle of the Russi This hefty book with a total of almost eleven hundred pages gives a magnificent panorama of one of the most catastrophic events in world history. Resulting in the destruction of four European empires, in the birth of about a dozen new states (or protectorates) in Europe and in the Middle East and Africa, in the killing of millions, in the unleashing of boundless violence into European political and social life for decades to come, and, last but by no means least, in being the cradle of the Russian Revolution and ensuing Soviet State, the First World War was, in the words of Eric Hobsbawm, the birth moment of the short Twentieth Century. This wonderful book is the first complete history of the Great War that I have read and I doubt I will read another one as good. Covering all aspects of the war (military, certainly, but also, and as importantly, the political, diplomatic, economic, social, and nationalistic) and also the immediate antecedents and outcomes, this work guide us through the diverse aspects of life of the main conflicting participants, with sometimes very surprising pieces of information (at least for me) like, for example, the ``bloodiest day in British Army’’ (1st of July 1916, when more British service men were lost than in the Crimean, Boer, and Korean wars combined, pg. 410), or the comparison of desertions in World War I and II in the British and German armies (pp. 573, 574), or the cost of killing one soldier (pg. 704), among many, many others. Definitely an absolute must read for anyone wanting to understand one of the most tragic and determining events in world history.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Martin

    Why another book about the First World War? Good question. And why another book eclipsing 1,100 pages? Another good question. The Great War is an old subject but it is still fresh, still relevant. I have read British and American scholars -- military, political, and social history re: this war. But I had never read a German scholar before picking up Jorn Leonhard's 'Pandora's Box.' This is a monumental book! An intellectual analysis of all aspects of the war, with each year of the conflict getting Why another book about the First World War? Good question. And why another book eclipsing 1,100 pages? Another good question. The Great War is an old subject but it is still fresh, still relevant. I have read British and American scholars -- military, political, and social history re: this war. But I had never read a German scholar before picking up Jorn Leonhard's 'Pandora's Box.' This is a monumental book! An intellectual analysis of all aspects of the war, with each year of the conflict getting its own chapter. Thus, some chapters go on for 150 pages or more. Each begins with the military developments of the coming year and then follows the ways the military outcomes rippled through the home societies. Leonhard shows us why and how the belligerent nations and their peoples found the resolution to sustain the struggle past the point anyone thought possible, and in the end even victory looked like catastrophe. This is now my position when anyone asks who won World War One. No one.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Olena

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