Reading and studying history has always been on of my hobbies and I would say that the Frist World War is one of my favorite subjects of study. I usually read and listen to any books or courses on the subject that I can find and generally while I learn one or two new items of interest from each book or course, I generally have never found anything that gave me a new persepctive. This course changed that. I found it to be excellent. Although he made a couple of minor factual errors in a few of his lectures, I found both Professor Ramsden's course to be very well organized and presented as the course focused not just on the war and its causes (which is the traditional material) but also its legacy to this day. Most interesting to me were the lectures on the war's impact on art and literature (first time I ever took a course that focused on this area) and the impact of the war on the post Second World War world (all the way down to 1987). I would strongly recommend this course to anyone who is interested in the subject matter as well as to anyone who has never read or studied the First World War and has had an interest to learn something about it. This course is a great addition to the Audible library
I am an avid student of history and in particular the period involving World War I. In my many years of studying the war, I have never listened to an audio book that covered the war in the Middle East in full. Sure a number of good books have been written about the Gallipoli campaign (see the audio book by Peter Hart on the subject offered by Audible) and the Arab Revolt (TE Lawrence a/k/a Lawrence of Arabia- see Hero by Michael Korda also offered by Audible), but nothing has really put all of it into perspective in light of the Ottoman Empire's participation in the war. This book changed my perception and is well worth the listen.
The book begins in approximately 1876 as the Ottoman Sultanate enters its last phase of absolute power vested in the Sultan and follows through to the war with the Italians (over Libya), the First and Second Balkan Wars (1912 & 1913) and then the empire's entry into World War I and its demise. Along with way the listener is introduced to key historical persons such as the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) or Young Turks consisting of the triumvirate of Enver, Talaat, and Djemal who drove the Empire into destruction as well as Mustapha Kemal who led what was left of the empire out of its ashes to form modern Turkey. What made the book stand out was the way in which it put the Gallipoli invasion and the Arab Revolt (along with TE Lawrence) into context in terms of how all of this related to the war against the Ottomans. It also brought to light several things I never understood about the war in Middle East theatre. The Ottoman Empire was considered to be the weakest of the Central Powers and the Allied Powers thought that they could defeat the Ottomans more easily especially given the Ottoman army's performance in the first winter of the war. This led to the failed British invasion of Gallipoli (poorly managed by the British) and the invasion of Mesopotamia (i.e. Iraq) which led to the British humiliating surrender at Kut. It was only when the British realized that they could not defeat the Ottomans alone that they turned to the Arabs to plan the revolt in the desert. The book also also did a good job in describing how the Ottoman surrender led to the formation of the Middle East as we now know it.
Overall I thought the book was well written and interesting, Derek Perkins did a good job with the narration. Although the material may be somewhat dry to listeners who do not have a current interest in or are new to this area of the war, I believe that this book is a great addition to the Audible library and I recommend it to anyone who wants to understand the modern Middle East and Balkans and how the Ottoman Empire and its demise influenced these regions to this day.
Although I am an avid student and reader of history, I must admit that my knowledge of European history during the 19th century is somewhat sketchy- especially when it comes to the details leading up to the revolutions of 1848. This book was excellent at explaining those details. The authors start out with a detailed description of the catylist for the change in Europe during this time period- the industrial revolution- and they move forward covering critical events all the way up to the declaration of the German Empire at Versailles in 1871. Chapter 1 focuses in great detail on the industrial revolution and at times I found the description to be almost too tedious (I decided after a while to skip over this part)- but for those who are intently interested in the actual mechanics of the industrial revolution, it is quite good. The subsequent chapters focus on the changes between 1815 and 1870 on a country by country basis- starting with France, working through Austria, Prussia, the German Confedreation, Spain, Italy and finally Russia. The analysis is quite detailed and excellent. Great historical names of the past such as Metternich, Bismarck, Mazzini, Louis Napoleon, and Cavour together with their contributions are all woven into the fabric of the volume. The narrator does a very good job with his narration as well. I enjoyed the volume enough to purchase the second volume as well. In conclusion, I would recommend the volume to anyone who wishes to acquire better knowledge and understanding about Europe during the period