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World War I

A History in Documents

Second Edition

Marilyn Shevin-Coetzee and Frans Coetzee

Publication Date - July 2010

ISBN: 9780199731527

192 pages
8 x 10 inches

In Stock


Offering a comprehensive account of the war as more than a purely military phenomenon, World War I: A History in Documents, Second Edition, also addresses its profound social, cultural, and economic implications. Authors Marilyn Shevin-Coetzee and Frans Coetzee use editorials, memoirs, newspaper articles, poems, and letters to re-create the many facets of the war. Technological developments such as the machine gun and barbed wire brought the world trench warfare, which is vividly depicted here in a firsthand account of then-soldier Benito Mussolini. An Atlantic Monthly essay by the African-American sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois draws attention to the conflict's origins in imperialist greed in Africa. A poor French girl's thank-you note to a charitable American demonstrates the plight of Europe's children. And a photo essay of poster art reveals the passion and propaganda aroused on every side.

This second edition includes an updated introduction with a note on sources and interpretation, more than forty new documents and images, and updated further reading and website lists. The new documents offer additional material on colonialism in Africa and on specific military aspects of the war, including an excerpt on the coming of war in Germany from Stefan Zweig's autobiography; a description of the Brusilov offensive; the diary of a German deserter; an account of the Christmas truce; soldiers' poetry; a diary from the Gallipoli campaign; Jan Smuts's report on fighting in east Africa; and a report from the battle of Jutland. Several new literary sources, including a poem by Anna Akhmatova, are also included. The new images of satirical German postcards and a broadside of the Proclamation of a Provisional Government of the Irish Republic allow readers to see rare ephemera and build a more textured historical understanding of the war.


  • Offers a comprehensive account of World War I
  • Addresses the profound social, cultural, and economic implications of World War I
  • Features primary sources including editorials, memoirs, newspaper articles, poems, and letters

About the Author(s)

Marilyn Shevin-Coetzee and Frans Coetzee have taught at Yale and George Washington Universities and have been the recipients of fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, American Philosophical Society, Alexander von Humboldt, Fulbright, Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton), Mellon, and National Endowment for the Humanities Foundations. They are the authors of six books, the most recent of which is The World in Flames: A World War II Sourcebook (OUP, 2010), and maintain a website on world history (www.history4everyone.com).

Previous Publication Date(s)

July 2002

Table of Contents

    What is a Document?
    How to Read a Document
    Introduction: The Great War
    Note on Sources and Interpretation
    Chapter One: Into the Abyss
    To War?
    The Spark
    Europe Mobilizes
    Holy War
    African Roots
    Chapter Two: Adjusting to War
    Answering the Call
    Faith and Endurance
    Children in the War and at Play
    Chapter Three: Meeting the Challenge
    Baptism of Fire
    The Conquest of Jerusalem
    Women: Doing Their Part
    Chapter Four: War Without Mercy
    Ignorance and Intolerance
    Tragedies of War
    Anti-German Sentiment
    Chapter Five: Picture Essay
    Advertising the War
    Chapter Six: Strains
    Body and Soul in Turmoil
    Dissidence and Disorder
    Defending the Russian Revolution
    Dislike of the Unlike
    Chapter Seven: Coming to Terms
    From the Ashes
    Loss and Memory
    Further Reading
    Text Credits
    Picture Credits