Robert Gerwarth


1917: War, Peace, and Revolution


Oxford University Press 480pp £30 order from our bookshop

On 11 November 1917, one year before the First World War’s formal end, Erich Ludendorff, Germany’s most important military strategist, looked optimistically into the future. Russia had effectively been knocked out of the war, allowing Berlin to move several divisions to the Western Front, where the German High Command sought to secure a decisive victory over Britain and France before the United States – at war with Germany since April that year – could land large numbers of soldiers in France. Italy, meanwhile, had suffered a severe blow at the Battle of Caporetto, where Austro-Hungarian forces, supported by German units, devastated the Italian defenders. ‘The situation in Russia and Italy will likely make it possible to strike a blow in the western theatre of war in the new year. The balance of forces will be approximately equal. Around thirty-five divisions and one thousand heavy artillery pieces can be made available for an offensive … Our overall situation demands that we strike as early as possible, ideally in late February or early March, before the Americans throw powerful forces into the balance.’ 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Since Dylan’s commercial and ideological heyday, the intrusion of sociology, semiology and post-structuralist thou… ,
    • 'One of the reasons for its longevity is that it has virtually nothing to say about science and technology at all,… ,
    • 'The characters in many of these stories are trapped in the obsessive present tense of their own thoughts; in the m… ,
    • 'Libraries, for much of their existence, have embodied in microcosm many of the characteristics of the totalitarian… ,
    • 'Moss and Cynthia buy several properties through which to launder their ill-gotten gains, take lots of drugs, have… ,
    • 'Never mind the imperial cult. This is the cult of Boris. What happened to Rome?' From the LR archive:… ,
    • Thirty-two years ago this month, we published Muriel Spark's short story, 'A Playhouse Called Remarkable' Read it… ,