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Enduring the Great War: Combat, Morale and…
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Enduring the Great War: Combat, Morale and Collapse in the German and… (edition 2009)

by Alexander Watson (Author)

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162998,375 (5)1
This book is an innovative comparative history of how German and British soldiers endured the horror of the First World War. Unlike existing literature, which emphasises the strength of societies or military institutions, this study argues that at the heart of armies' robustness lay natural human resilience. Drawing widely on contemporary letters and diaries of British and German soldiers, psychiatric reports and official documentation, and interpreting these sources with modern psychological research, this unique account provides fresh insights into the soldiers' fears, motivations and coping mechanisms. It explains why the British outlasted their opponents by examining and comparing the motives for fighting, the effectiveness with which armies and societies supported men and the combatants' morale throughout the conflict on both sides. Finally it challenges the consensus on the war's end, arguing that not a 'covert strike' but rather an 'ordered surrender' led by junior officers brought about Germany's defeat in 1918.… (more)
Member:rcaf
Title:Enduring the Great War: Combat, Morale and Collapse in the German and British Armies, 1914–1918 (Cambridge Military Histories)
Authors:Alexander Watson (Author)
Info:Cambridge University Press (2009), Edition: 1, 308 pages
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Enduring the Great War: Combat, Morale and Collapse in the German and British Armies, 1914-1918 by Alexander Watson

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I'm not inclined to give the typical academic monograph five stars, as these books are basically designed to become obsolete, but in this case I'm making an exception as I suspect this study is going to be "news that stays news" for awhile, as Watson considers how hard it was to break the motivation and determination of the two armies in question until the very end. If one point stands out it's the importance of the company-grade officers in this story, as a large part of the final breakdown of the Imperial German military was due to a shortage of good junior officers in the last months of the war and the willingness of those remaining officers to surrender their units once it was obvious that the game was up after the German "Peace Note" requesting terms in October of 1918. ( )
  Shrike58 | Aug 24, 2019 |
First of all see the 'Book Description' below for an overview of this work. With that in mind, I felt the author did a fine job of investigating, anaylzing and drawing sound conclusions from the sources he used. I particularly found interesting the section on the coping mechanisms tat combat soldiers used to rationalize their environment at the front, and how to survive there. One technique many soldiers used was to maintain a 'short-term time line'. It goes something like this....what are the odds of my being hit today, or during this turn in the trenches, how many shells does Fritz need to fire to hit anyone. etc. The falacy of this is that the longer you are explosed to danger, the greater the chances are of ultimately being hit. Religious thoughts, family memories, and fatalism were also strong coping mechanisms.

I recommend this book. It takes a unique approach to help explain the behaviors used by front line soldiers that allowed them to stay the course over the 4+ years of WWI. ( )
  douboy50 | Nov 16, 2012 |
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This book is an innovative comparative history of how German and British soldiers endured the horror of the First World War. Unlike existing literature, which emphasises the strength of societies or military institutions, this study argues that at the heart of armies' robustness lay natural human resilience. Drawing widely on contemporary letters and diaries of British and German soldiers, psychiatric reports and official documentation, and interpreting these sources with modern psychological research, this unique account provides fresh insights into the soldiers' fears, motivations and coping mechanisms. It explains why the British outlasted their opponents by examining and comparing the motives for fighting, the effectiveness with which armies and societies supported men and the combatants' morale throughout the conflict on both sides. Finally it challenges the consensus on the war's end, arguing that not a 'covert strike' but rather an 'ordered surrender' led by junior officers brought about Germany's defeat in 1918.

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