Richard Overy

The Guns of November

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

By Robert Gerwarth

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.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Andrew Irwin examines the language and structure of Reservoir 13, a 'portrait of a whole village' by Jon McGregor ,
    • David Jacques's Garden of Court and Country: English Design 1630-1730, reviewed by Tim Richardson ,
    • Lucy Popescu () appeals on the behalf of Rashad Ramazanov, a writer and blogger imprisoned in Azerbaijan ,
    • ''the icon of restlessness for a world that never seems able to settle.'' How Hamlet went on tour ,
    • . is upon us. Look out for free copies of Literary Review for festival attendees.,
    • 'If there is a god, nature is the breath of it and art ... is its messenger.' Jan Morris contemplates Wordsworth ,
    • Weekend read 2: Take inspiration from Jonathan Meades's 'anti'-recipes and 'serve up a treat' this Sunday ,