Richard Overy

The Guns of November

The Vanquished: Why the First World War Failed to End, 1917–1923

By

Allen Lane 446pp £25 order from our bookshop

Armistice Day is embedded in popular Western memory of the Great War – the moment in 1918 when the guns stopped firing on the Western Front. Every 11 November, two minutes’ silence is observed across the United Kingdom, perpetuating awareness of that sombre moment. What the armistice actually meant is seldom examined very closely; it is enough that the seemingly remorseless killing in the trenches of France and Belgium ended. In reality, that was all that stopped on 11 November 1918. The end of the Great War was as confused and messy as its start. It took four more years of conflict across much of central and eastern Europe and the eastern Mediterranean before a peace settlement of sorts was reached. Even the armistice settled little: the economic blockade of Germany by the Allies went on until the Weimar Republic accepted the terms of the Treaty of Versailles in June 1919.

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

    • The mystery of Jack the Ripper's identity has long been agonised over. But what do we know about his victims?… ,
    • A piece of Literary Review history from way back in 1983: John Haffenden talks to the great Iris Murdoch. ,
    • Britain’s only travelling lit fest, the Garden Museum Literary Festival is heading to Houghton Hall, Norfolk, for a… ,
    • 'The 19th-century German sage is not my idea of a pleasant travel companion' goes hiking with Friedr… ,
    • If you want ideas about what to read next, sign up to our free email newsletter, and get book reviews, archive mate… ,
    • 'The heroic male nude could not, I think, be used today to signify civic pride and glory', as Michelangelo’s 'David… ,
    • 'Munch’s later works show us a man liberated from the torments that gave rise to some of the best-known early works… ,