Ring Of Steel by Alexander Watson

Ring Of Steel

An award-winning historian presents a groundbreaking new history of World War I from the perspective of the Central Powers, showing how wartime suffering led not only to the fall of an empire but also to a fundamental breakdown of society.For Germany and Austria-Hungary the First World War started with high hopes for a rapid, decisive outcome. Convinced that right was on their side and fearful of the enemies that encircled them, they threw themse...

Details Ring Of Steel

TitleRing Of Steel
Release DateOct 7th, 2014
PublisherBasic Books
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, War, World War I, Cultural, Germany, Military, Military History

Reviews Ring Of Steel

  • Matt
    If you’ve run across any of my other reviews of World War I-related books, you will know that I have spent approximately the last three-and-a-half years trying to learn everything I can about the Great War. I can pinpoint the date because this was a conscious decision I made when I learned that my wife with pregnant with our first kid. I thought to myself, “Self, you’re about to lose a bunch of your free time. You better choose one thing ...
  • Joseph
    “We began the war, not the Germans and still less the Entente -- I know that.”~ Baron Leopold von Andrian- Westberg. Ring of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War I by Alexander Watson is the history of World War I from a German and Austrian setting. Watson holds a PhD from Oxford University. He lectures on the social, economic, military and political history of the First World War, the Second World War, and the Habsburg Empire in t...
  • Manchester Military History Society (MMHS)
    I thought this would be a slog at 800+ pages, but found it a surprisingly readable and a thought provoking book.Ring of Steel tells the story of World War 1 from the "other side of the hill" and claims to be the first modern history from this viewpoint.Being a World War 2 devotee this book really opened my eyes to the German/Austro Hungarian viewpoint and decision making in World War 1. It really is a fascinating read telling the story of how Ger...
  • Kevin Cole
    Inside this giant of a tome is an average-sized book crying to be freed!I'm fond of saying nobody cares about World War I. That's because it's true. Only strange people like me would first learn about the war at ten years old from a book in the school library. It all began with an assassination in Sarajevo. Hey, that sounds exotic. Exciting. I'm in! Now let's learn about propaganda and trench warfare and poison gas and the Red Baron. Awesome stuf...
  • Andrew
    Ring Of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War I, by Alexander Watson, is just as it sounds. A gigantic tome of information on the life and times of the Central Powers (excluding Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire) as they fought in World War I. Germany and Austria-Hungary are often maligned as the evil empires that started WWI I much of the Anglo-Saxon world, and as both powers lost the war, history continues to be written, mostly, by the ...
  • Sotiris Karaiskos
    Most books about the First World War are in one thing clear: Germany and Austro-Hungarians were the bad guys and their opponents were the good ones. This is why we often see things from the side of these good people, often overlooking what happened on the other side. This lack is trying to supplement this book and I think it does in an impressive and historically correct way. It does not, of course, take their place, nor the writer try to overloo...
  • Steven Peterson
    This is an outstanding work. It speaks of Germany and Austria Hungary as surrounded by a "ring of steel" in World War I--Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy, (later) the United States, and some smaller countries. They were outnumbered.This story is told from the perspective of Germany and Austria-Hungary. It is the story of government and the people. It is less of a military history. If you wish a detailed description of the masterful defeat of ...
  • Jerome
    An excellent and comprehensive history of the Austrian and German war effort during the First World War. One of Watson’s main arguments is that the history of these nations from 1914-1918 played a major role in Europe’s later catastrophe in the 1930s and 1940s. “The great material and emotional investment,” of Germany and Austria-Hungary, he writes, “ensured that defeat, when it came, would have a catastrophic impact on their societies....
  • Bfisher
    There isn't much popular history available which provides an internal view of the Central Powers during WW1, so this book is a worthwhile read on that basis. This is a survey history, so it necessarily covers a great deal of ground at a high level. However, the prose is readable, and Watson provides enough details to keep it interesting, for example, a sentence about a Steiff playset of a French POW transport.It's greatest value lies in its descr...
  • Thomas
    I received this ARC free from the publisher through Net Galley.com. I give this book 3 stars. Two major defects: Promised maps are not there(Maps in Table of Contents says"to come") and about 1/2 of charts/tables do not load properly. Strengths: The author has done an impressive amount of research--120pp of footnotes, 60+pp bibliography--many of the sources are in the original German. The book reads well, w. the major focus on the home front,i.e,...
  • Aaron
    Finally finished this tome on the German and Austro-Hungarian experience during WWI. Western civilization shot itself in the head with the first World War. That's just about all I've got to say about that.
  • KB
    I was really looking forward to reading this book and it did not disappoint. It's also, I think, quite an accessible history of the First World War from Germany and Austria-Hungary's perspective.The book impressed me immediately. I feel like whenever you read any histories about the start of the war, you're always told about ethnic tensions and problems within Austria-Hungary, but it never goes much deeper than a surface-level, very general overv...
  • Emmanuel Gustin
    This is, as histories of wars go, a somewhat unusual book. It focuses on the Central Powers of World War I, Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy, telling the story from the side of the losers. It is not a military history, in the sense that it devotes relatively few of its 566 pages (not including notes and bibliography) to fighting and battles, although it does some. Instead, this is mostly a political history, a social history, and ec...
  • Martin Samuels
    Histories of the First World War tend to fall into three categories: personal accounts, battle or campaign studies, and strategic narratives from the Entente perspective. In this extraordinary book, Alexander Watson has single-handedly opened a new category: a strategic narrative from the Central Powers perspective.Ranging far and wide, drawing upon the accounts of leading politicians and individual soldiers and civilians, Watson paints a picture...
  • Ton
    Very strong account of the First World War from the perspective of the Central Powers. Emphasis is on what the effects of the war were on the population, and how decisions by leadership affected those populations. The decisionmaking process is also examined, with powerful argumentation about intent and reasons given why intentions did not pan out (or did not pan out as wished).Most impressive parts, for me, are the tragedy that the different nati...
  • Bob H
    It's more than a military history: this book tells us much about the economic and social events of the war, and from the standpoint of the two empires' peoples. We also see the decisions, often mistaken, by their leaders: the Austro-Hungarian policy of reprisal and atrocity (far more extensive than the Germans', we find); the German decision to open U-boat warfare against neutral shipping, bringing in the US on the enemy side; the missteps in pea...
  • Steve
    This is a hugely important book about an all too misunderstood or even worse, ignored area of history which was incredibly decisive for the course of the twentieth century as a whole. I am wholly convinced by Watson’s basic thesis that the ways in which the Austro-Hungarian and German home fronts experienced the trauma of World War One was critical for how the flawed peace of 1918-1919 transformed into the fiery cataclysm of World War Two. Spec...
  • Gumble's Yard
    Engrossing account of the First World War examining the war exclusively from the viewpoints of the Germans and Austro-Hungarians and also examining the war holistically, looking particularly at its impact on society as well as the trends and forces set in motion which would lead to the horrors of the Second World War.A key theme of the book is that for both societies the war was by necessity a total people's war - relying for its success on a mob...
  • Raphael
    What a book to finish reading on November 11th 2018! Well, I admit I planned my reading this way.I did not read anything about WW1 in quite some time so I decided to pick up this book for the centenary of the armistice. I knew quite a bit more from the allied side than from the central powers' side so it was very interesting to read a volume that focuses on Germany and Austria-Hungary.It is not really a military history of the war as some major b...
  • Chris Wares
    The author tells the story of the First World War from the perspective of the Central Powers and significantly changed some of my ideas about the war The balance of power was clearly stacked against the Central Powers who felt threatened by the rapid Russian armament and encirclement by the Entente. They hoped to knock out France quickly and then turn and face Russia but their plans failed and they got bogged down in a static war in the West. Bot...
  • Neal R St Jacques
    I thoroughly enjoyed Watson's book as the focus on Germany and especially the complexity of managing and leading the Habsburg empire in WWI is not a topic most Entente historians cover. Also, Watson backed up his narrative from the outset of the war through to its conclusion by delving into archives and producing statistics which gave credence to the narrative, especially wrt foodstuffs and manpower. Speaking of archives, the other strength of hi...
  • Chris
    I've got to admit, World War I always leaves me feeling kind of bitter. Just so dang pointless and then Germany gets blamed for it. Honestly, World War I was a real team effort by all involved (I'm picturing Germany at the Academy Awards saying, "I couldn't have done it alone. Russia, France and Britain really contributed. Where are you guys? Come on, get up here!")But this book was really interesting for its focus on the German and Austro-Hungar...
  • J
    A very readable take on the central powers in WW1. If you are from North America, you probably don't know much about the other side of the conflict. This alone makes the book worth reading. You will learn about the decision making processes, the conflict (not a huge focus) and the reaction of the general population, from the perspective of Germany and Austria-Hungary. One of the flaws of the book in my view is that it only dedicates 1 sentence to...
  • Dianna K Smith
    A new perspectiveAs the saying goes, history is written by the winners. This unique book gives the other side of history that is invaluable. To have someone present the thoughts, fears, hopes, sacrifice in a genuine view brings the horror of war alive. People, ordinary people who love their families, communities and countries and who believe what their government tells them, who rally to a cause they believe in as framed by their view of the worl...
  • John Levon
    A fascinating history of the 1st world war as seen from the "other side". I didn't know much, so there's some useful basics here, but it's really interesting reading about the attitudes of the German military, the people, and the Austro-Hungarians. It's a very long book, but well worth it.
  • Octavia Pearce
    4.5Little long winded at times
  • Don Mcleod
    An immense book and a superb history of the war from the perspective of the central powers.
  • Jeremy Punnett
    Outstanding. I am not really into war history but this deserves the superlatives.
  • Torsten
    New perspective on WWITo me at least uncharted territory. In mapping the internal development of the Central Powers in WWI. Presented in very readable form.
  • David Bird
    Alexander Watson sets out to redress the imbalance of anglophone histories of the first world war by presenting the story of the Central Powers, both their armies and their peoples. For this alone, the book would be valuable, for it tells many stories that do not warrant space in most British and American accounts that tend to center on the experiences of the B.E.F. or even the A.E.F., with the French reduced to Allies, and the occasional nod to ...