World War I: The "Great War"

Discover how World War I all too quickly expanded far beyond the expectations of those involved to become the first "total war."
World War I: The "Great War" is rated 4.6 out of 5 by 168.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Survey of WWI This is an excellent WWI course covering a mix of political, military and social history of the war. Professor Liulevicius has a clear and engaging presentation style. He walks you through all elements of the war, from the prewar background though the peace settlement and its aftermath. Highly recommend.
Date published: 2020-09-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Refresher and Interesting Facts I have this on Audible and I absolutely love anything Historical. It's a great refresher for some of the stuff learned in school but also great for learning new facts as well. The only thing I could wish for more is that Great Courses had this on download for their sight here or on Great Courses Plus as either Audio or Video.
Date published: 2020-07-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good Basic Coverage The course was easy to use, as with all courses from The Great Course catalog. The subject matter covered topics that are not usually covered in the plethora of books on this subject. The professor was well spoken and obviously well grounded in the subject. There were some minor glitches in the subject matter, but too minor and too few to address. All in all, this is a good course for someone interested in a general treatmnent of the war.
Date published: 2020-07-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very comprehensive and well-presented I bought this DVD because I wanted some background for my real interest (World War II). The professor did an outstanding job - the course was informative, comprehensive and very well-presented. Enjoyed it very much.
Date published: 2020-05-29
Rated 2 out of 5 by from too much sound I got a chance to borrow this and it's something Americans should know more about. This course would have been 1/3 shorter, 3 times easier to remember, and half as hard for the speaker to deliver if the material had been better organized overall and structured within each video. Too much information is repeated in multiple videos. It gives a false impression of importance, sort of like that book The Puzzle Palace which would have been 1/3 shorter if the author hadn't screamed SIGINT at his readers more than once a page. While the author or World War One might have thought this emphasized that the same things persisted throughout the period, that's not a good excuse and just points up that he needs better skills as a writer. The way to structure masses of information is to break things down into thirds; it is a classic of human communications that we cope best with things in threes, and the Law of Three is a feature of oral traditions worldwide going back to Africa. Also, the military structures masses of information as "tell them what you are going to tell them (no more than 3 items at a time); tell them; tell them what you just told them".
Date published: 2020-03-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from An Interesting Background to What Happened and Why This course went beyond date, people, places, and events. It gave us some information that is usually not presented in history lectures on World War I. I liked the background information on what was going on not only in the political world but also in to day to day life of the people in the middle of this mess. We are shown how political ideology at times starts out as a unified faction and then slowly dissolves into in-fighting within that faction, such as the events in Russia leading up to the Russian revolution. We also see the mentality of the time that the war would be romantically glorious and patriots would come marching home in triumph. Unfortunately, this did not happen and as much as the aristocracy on all sides, both in and out of uniform, wanted it to happen. Most of the solutions to any military failures were to plan grander assaults and counter-assaults that just fed more men into the meat grinder of this war. This course also showed how diplomacy was carried out before, during, and after the war, and that it was mainly haphazard based the public and private whims of various government leaders to project their image or power. The only problem I have with this set of lectures is that 36 lectures is too long for me and at times seemed redundant in some of the subject matter.
Date published: 2019-12-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Time very well spent. I enjoyed greatly the opportunity of "attending" the course. With due recognition for the overwhelming magnitude of the topic, and of the numerous events - large and small - that make up the "story" of World War 1, I found that an excellent job was done in crystalizing it all into a managable and pleasing presentation that got ever better as chapter followed chapter. Of note was the attention given to the conflict on the eastern front, too often short-changed relative to the western front.
Date published: 2019-10-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Focused on the People Unlike the movies, the documentaries and the common stories of the war, this series focus' on the people. Battles are mentioned, but it's not strategy or minute battle movements, but the overall minds of those to lead, planned, fought, and lived in the disputed areas. I didn't get he pathos that is often associated with this war, but I better understood the arrogance and self delusion that society was infected with. It is probably the single best program to show the futility of war and the continuance of the 'glory' seekers, in a place that has no glory.
Date published: 2019-10-10
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Overview

From August 1914 to November 1918, an unprecedented catastrophe gripped the world that continues to reverberate into our own time. World War I was touched off by a terrorist act in Bosnia and all too quickly expanded far beyond the expectations of those involved to become the first "total war." It was the first conflict in which entire societies mobilized to wage unrestrained war, investing all their wealth, industries, institutions, and the lives of their citizens to win victory at any price.

About

Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius
Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius

Modernity is a notoriously slippery concept, because, obviously, what is modern now will soon become the past, as time marches relentlessly forward.

INSTITUTION

University of Tennessee

Dr. Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius is Lindsay Young Professor of History and Director of the Center for the Study of War and Society at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He earned his B.A. from the University of Chicago and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. After receiving his doctorate, Dr. Liulevicius served as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University. Professor Liulevicius has won many awards and honors, including the University of Tennessee's Excellence in Teaching Award and a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship. At the university he teaches courses on modern German history, Western civilization, European diplomatic history, Nazi Germany, World War I, war and culture, 20th-century Europe, nationalism, and utopian thought. Dr. Liulevicius has published numerous articles and two books: War Land on the Eastern Front: Culture, National Identity, and German Occupation in World War I and The German Myth of the East, 1800 to the Present.

Professor Liulevicius participated in The Great Courses Professor Chat series. Read the chat to learn more about diplomacy and war

By This Professor

The Century's Initial Catastrophe

01: The Century's Initial Catastrophe

The opening lecture presents the main themes of the course, beginning with the concept of total war. Other themes include the role of ideology, the meanings ascribed to the war by different sides, and the war's legacy.

33 min
Europe in 1914

02: Europe in 1914

This lecture examines the state of Europe and the world before the onset of the war in 1914. The emergence of the German Empire created strains in the international balance of power, as divided among Great Britain, France, Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Russia.

32 min
Towards Crisis in Politics and Culture

03: Towards Crisis in Politics and Culture

Even among those who expected war, there were widespread misconceptions about the nature of the conflict to come. In this lecture you explore the prevailing ideas and attitudes in Europe and then turn to the premonitions noted by contemporaries of coming disaster.

34 min
Causes of the War and the July Crisis, 1914

04: Causes of the War and the July Crisis, 1914

This lecture analyzes the immediate events that led to war, from the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary at Sarajevo in June 1914 to the diplomatic chain reactions that followed in the July Crisis.

29 min
The August Madness

05: The August Madness

Hysterical celebration known as the August Madness greeted the outbreak of war between the Central Powers (Germany and Austria-Hungary) and the Allies (France, Great Britain, and Russia). You analyze new research that questions how widespread this emotional outburst really was.

30 min
The Failed Gambles - War Plans Break Down

06: The Failed Gambles - War Plans Break Down

This lecture follows the unfolding of the German Schlieffen Plan, which envisioned quick victory on two fronts, and the French Plan XVII, which aimed to recover lost French territories. Both were thwarted.

31 min
The Western Front Experience

07: The Western Front Experience

The Western Front soon froze into static trench warfare and horrific slaughter from attempts to break this deadlock. Generals on both sides sought a breakthrough that would allow sweeping offensives and glorious cavalry charges. These never came.

29 min
Life and Death in the Trenches

08: Life and Death in the Trenches

This lecture gives a detailed overview of the trench landscape from the perspective of ordinary soldiers: the elaborate fortifications, the omnipresence of death, and the codes of behavior such as the Christmas fraternizations between the trenches in 1914.

31 min
The Great Battles of Attrition

09: The Great Battles of Attrition

Once the new dynamics of industrial war had been recognized, there followed a series of months-long battles of attrition. You examine the battles of Verdun and Somme in 1916, and in 1917 the French Champagne Offensive and the Third Battle of Ypres, also called Passchendaele.

31 min
The Eastern Front Experience

10: The Eastern Front Experience

This lecture illuminates the unfamiliar clash of empires in the East, beginning with the Russian invasion of German East Prussia and the ominous disasters of the Austro-Hungarian war effort. The Germans achieved victory against the Russians at Tannenberg in 1914 and followed up with the "Great Advance" of 1915 into Russian territory.

32 min
The Southern Fronts

11: The Southern Fronts

Turkish entry into the war expanded its scope. Allied landings in Gallipoli in 1915 were repulsed by Turkish defenders. Italy entered the war on the Allied side but met disaster against Austria-Hungary at the battle of Caporetto.

31 min
War Aims and Occupations

12: War Aims and Occupations

What goals did the Allies and the Central Powers pursue from the outset of the war? How did these goals change? After examining these questions, you turn to the experience of military occupation and how it affected civilian populations.

31 min
Soldiers as Victims

13: Soldiers as Victims

Historians estimate that half of the soldiers mobilized in the war were killed or wounded, and some suggest that nearly half of surviving soldiers experienced psychological traumas. This lecture seeks to convey the immense scale of this carnage.

31 min
Storm Troopers and Future Dictators

14: Storm Troopers and Future Dictators

Attempts to break the immobility of trench warfare produced storm troopers, fearless warriors habituated to the trench landscape to a disturbing degree. Two ordinary soldiers seemed to enjoy the war too much: Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler.

30 min
The Total War of Technology

15: The Total War of Technology

An important element of World War I was the expanding destructive potential of technology. This lecture covers such developments as the machine gun, poison gas, and the submarine, as well as the economic weapon of ersatz materials.

31 min
Air War

16: Air War

While the war in the air was not yet decisive in World War I, it was a frightening portent of what future conflict would hold. This lecture surveys the rapid improvement in early airplanes and the growth of the myth of the fighter ace.

30 min
War at Sea

17: War at Sea

Like the land forces, the opposing navies also reached a stalemate. The Battle of Jutland in May 1916 was the only large-scale British-German naval clash, and it ended indecisively. The naval blockade imposed by the British on Germany was of far greater effect.

31 min
The Global Reach of the War

18: The Global Reach of the War

This lecture surveys fighting in the European colonies in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. The diplomatic sparring for the sympathies of neutral states is also examined, along with the economic dimension of the global war.

31 min
The War State

19: The War State

Total war put new demands on the state to mobilize populations and economies for victory. For example, Britain broke with earlier liberal traditions to give the government increased power over the economy and political speech.

31 min
Propaganda War

20: Propaganda War

This lecture examines the increasing sophistication of official propaganda. You also study the phenomenon of spontaneous propaganda produced by citizens, which could take the form of rumors, myths, and stereotypes of the enemy.

32 min
Endurance and Stress on the Home Front

21: Endurance and Stress on the Home Front

The home fronts in all the warring countries met privation, shortages, and surveillance with both endurance and signs of growing stress. The British blockade led to severe hunger in Germany, and the employment of women in war industries disrupted social traditions.

31 min
Dissent and Its Limits

22: Dissent and Its Limits

A range of voices spoke out against the conflict as it deepened, including workers, pacifists, and even a decorated British officer, Siegfried Sassoon. At the same time, radical socialists saw in the war an opening for world revolution.

31 min
Remobilization in 1916 - 1917

23: Remobilization in 1916 - 1917

Increasing war-weariness led all the combatant powers to attempt to reinvigorate the war effort. In France and Britain new civilian governments took the lead in this effort, while in Germany the de facto military dictatorship inaugurated a new propaganda campaign.

29 min
Armenian Massacres - Tipping into Genocide

24: Armenian Massacres - Tipping into Genocide

World War I saw the launching of what is considered the first full-scale modern genocide: the 1915 Armenian massacres in Ottoman Turkey, in which between 500,000 and one million men, women, and children of the Armenian minority were killed or died from abuse.

33 min
Strains of War - Socialists and Nationalists

25: Strains of War - Socialists and Nationalists

This lecture explores the growing divisions in wartime societies, which produced revolts such as the 1915 Easter Rising against British rule in Ireland, the French army's mutinies in 1917, and the growing alienation of subject nationalities in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

31 min
Russian Revolutions

26: Russian Revolutions

The Russian Empire was the first to break under the pressure of war. In March 1917, the tsarist regime abruptly collapsed. Months later the liberal-led provisional government itself collapsed when Lenin's Bolsheviks seized power and inaugurated a new Communist state.

32 min
America’s Entry into the War

27: America’s Entry into the War

In this lecture you follow the path that led the United States to join the Allied cause against Germany in April 1917. America's entry gave the war a larger ideological character, articulated by President Woodrow Wilson in his Fourteen Points.

31 min
America at War - Over There and Over Here

28: America at War - Over There and Over Here

World War I had a profound impact on American society. You explore the sophisticated propaganda campaign launched to rouse the nation to arms, the massive economic mobilization, and the encounter of American doughboys overseas with the "old continent."

30 min
1918 - The German Empire’s Last Gamble

29: 1918 - The German Empire’s Last Gamble

Hoping to win the war before the massed arrival of American troops, the Germans marshaled their reserves for a final offensive in March 1918. They advanced to within artillery range of Paris before being stopped by an Allied counteroffensive.

30 min
The War's End - Emotions of the Armistice

30: The War's End - Emotions of the Armistice

When the guns fell silent on November 11, 1918, many Germans found it difficult to accept that they had lost the war. As a crowning horror, a worldwide pandemic swept the globe: the Spanish Influenza killed an estimated 50 million people.

31 min
Toppled Thrones - The Collapse of Empires

31: Toppled Thrones - The Collapse of Empires

The defeated Central Powers saw their empires and political structures come crashing down. This lecture outlines the startling internal collapse of the Central Powers and the question of what new order would replace the extinct regimes.

30 min
The Versailles Treaty and Paris Settlement

32: The Versailles Treaty and Paris Settlement

The peace settlements ending World War I were beset with contradictions. Should the treaties reconcile enemies or punish the defeated? Were they meant to repair the prewar balance of power or abolish it? This lecture considers the resulting treaties in depth.

32 min
Aftershocks - Reds, Whites, and Nationalists

33: Aftershocks - Reds, Whites, and Nationalists

In the turmoil after the war, intense ideological conflict arose. Partisans of international Communism heralded by Soviet Russia (labeled Reds) battled counterrevolutionary forces (called Whites). New nation-states also collided repeatedly.

32 min
Monuments, Memory, and Myths

34: Monuments, Memory, and Myths

Vigorous debates surrounded the question of memorials to the fallen. This lecture analyzes such monuments as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Also investigated are myths that arose in the wake of the war, including the "Stab in the Back" legend in Germany.

32 min
The Rise of the Mass Dictatorships

35: The Rise of the Mass Dictatorships

World War I showed the power that could be mobilized by states organized for war. This experience provided the model for postwar totalitarian movements, including Fascism in Italy, Nazism in Germany, and Communism in the Soviet Union.

31 min
Legacies of the Great War

36: Legacies of the Great War

This concluding lecture confronts the largest and most difficult question: What were the true meaning, legacy, and significance of World War I? You examine the economic, social, and political impact, as well as the individual human consequences of this disaster.

31 min