In Victory 1918, Alan Palmer, the noted historian and author of definitive biographies of Bismarck and the Habsburgs, looks beyond individual battles and campaigns and offers a new and broader view of the First World War. Palmer does not dwell on either the strategies that led to the stalemate on the Western Front or the details surrounding Russia's withdrawal; nor does he reiterate the facts surrounding America's entry into the War. Rather, he creates a mosaic that reflects the intersection of personal agendas. France's Clemenceau and Britain's Lloyd George emerge as pragmatic leaders determined to preserve and widen their nations' post-war sphere of influence. Each entrusted conduct of war on the Western Front to his country's most senior and respected military figures. Palmer notes that only the Americans entered the war without colonial ambitions and that European commander General Pershing spent much of his time insuring that his troops did not become additional cannon fodder for the Allies. Lloyd George, Clemenceau, and Hindenburg each found aggressive military leaders who shared their visions. For Clemenceau that general was Franchet d'Esperey and for Lloyd George, generals Allenby and Milne. The Kaiser turned to General Erich von Falkenhayn. Although these generals first saw combat in Europe, they were ultimately entrusted with preserving his country's interests along its farther reaches. Their war was fought in Egypt and distant places once called the Levant, Mesopotamia, and Salonika. While many of these campaigns have been the subject of books, studies, and even movies, Palmer brings them together as elements of a coherent Allied strategy.

Victory 1918 recounts a war that resulted from misunderstandings and that was needlessly prolonged by the Allies' misreading of Austria's appeal for peace. It was also the war that reversed the tide of colonialism and sparked the rise of self-determination as the ultimate expression of nationalism. Alan Palmer offers a thought-provoking analysis of a defining event of the century just past.

John Messer once served at the Pentagon.

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