For all the history buffs out there, we have some great World War I books to quench your historian thirst. The books on this list cover many of the lesser-known sides of the Great War, from the ravaging of the Middle East and the creation of Czecho-Slovakia to the Black soldiers who fought for American rights they didn’t have themselves. Each book here is full of rich detail and thrilling accounts to bring the war to life in your imagination.
by Eugene Rogan
In The Fall of the Ottomans, historian Eugene Rogan weaves the story of World War I in the Middle East. The powers of Europe dragged the Middle East into the war, but it was different there. The war was unpredictable and moved quickly, with the Turks defeating the Entente—Allies—in Gallipoli, Mesopotamia, and Gaza. The Fall of the Ottomans is a thrilling history, complete with the narrative of battles and political strife.
John H. Morrow Jr. (Contribution by); Krewasky A. Salter (Contribution by); Lonnie G. Bunch III (Introduction by); Nat'l Mus Nat'l Mus Afr Am Hist Culture; Kinshasha Holman Conwill (Editor)
Black soldiers served in World War I for the United States, fighting for rights they did not yet have for themselves at home. They often worked in segregated units in labor and support duties, though, rather than in combat. Kinshasha Holman's book, We Return Fighting, is a stunning collection of essays, artifacts, medals, and photographs that showcase the wartime efforts of these forgotten Black soldiers.
In Ring of Steel, Alexander Watson retells the story of World War I from the perspective of its losers. The Central Powers had high hopes for an easy victory when the war began, but they became trapped within the Allies' powers. This book reevaluates the war and the last century of European history.
Kevin J McNamara's Dreams of a Great Small Nation covers the largely unknown story of the Czech and Slovak combat veterans who, when stranded in Siberia, envisioned their opportunity for independence. They'd been fighting in World War I for the Central Powers, but moved their 50,000-person army across land and sea to join the Allied forces. This group demolished the Austro-Hungarian Empire and founded Czecho-Slovakia. Dreams of a Great Small Nation is their heroic story.
In 1918, the French and British forces were on the verge of collapse. And then America swooped in. Historian Geoffrey Wawro pieces together the thrilling tale of the battles, decisions, and human loss in the American war effort. Sons of Freedom is the definitive history of America's role in World War I.
The U.S. Army's "Lost Battalion" of 600 men charged in strong to attack in Europe's Argone Forest in October 1918. At first they were successful, but soon they were surrounded and besieged. They ran out of ammunition, food, and water, and a week later, only 194 of those men exited the forest alive. Edward G. Lengel's Never in Finer Company honors those lost men and their story of heroism.
by Norman Stone
Norman Stone's World War One is a tight, brisk, and witty history of the war, covering the 14 million dead, 4 destroyed empires, and the rest of the chaos that brought the world into the twentieth century and then World War II. It's a potent and compact version of history.
by Nick Lloyd
The Hundred Days Campaign, four months of some of the bloodiest combat of World War I, ended with Allied victory. Historian Nick Loyd weaves the tale of that campaign in Hundred Days, complete with the exciting details of surprise attacks, innovative artillery tactics, and fancy equipment.
What to Read Next
Ashley Holstrom is a book person, designing them and writing about them for Book Riot. She lives near Chicago with her cat named after Hemingway and her bookshelves organized by color.