Learning About World War I

I started studying World War I a few months ago to better understand what happened in the early part of the twentieth century in Europe. So much of the last 100 years has been shaped by this massive war, of which I knew very little. I knew a few of the basics - who the major players in the conflict were, when the war was, the instigating event, the outcome, but not much else.

Having talked with many of my friends about what I've learned in the past few months, it seems like most of us know next to nothing about this war. We understand a lot about World War II, and very little about World War I.

Here are the best resources I've found on the subject. I put them in the order that I think makes the most sense. Enjoy!

  1. Khan Academy's World War 1 video series - This is a good high-level overview and requires a small amount of time investment. Start here.
  2. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque - I read this in high school as required reading, but it had little effect on me. This time around, I found it fascinating and brutal. It's a deeply depressing novel - very much an anti-war statement. This is historical fiction, yet an accurate depiction of life on the Western Front. It could easily be a memoir for millions of soldier's experiences. Bonus points for watching the movie.
  3. Dan Carlin's Hardcore History's - Blueprint for Armageddon series - This series is a large time investment, but the most memorable of all of my resources. It's absolutely fantastic, as is all of Dan Carlin's work, and pairs well with All Quiet on the Western Front.
  4. Dead Wake by Erik Larson - This brings a whole new element of the naval warfare of the time, as well as a very personal historical account. This helps to understand why the US eventually gets involved.
  5. A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, 1914 to 1918 by G.J. Meyer - I didn't read every page of this book, but instead used it as supplemental reading. I found the background sections, which are roughly every other chapter to be excellent. I used the remaining chapters like a standard history textbook to go deeper into areas on which I wanted more detail.