First World War Books for Adults

The First World War began just over a century ago and it became one of the most brutal and world-changing wars in history. Diving into the history of this war can be can be both shocking and moving and with our First World War books you can discover the stories of this mighty conflict from the build-up to the aftermath. We have WW1 books on specific battles and years and books that show you what life was like for people both in and out of the trenches. Discover our best First World War books for adults below...

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1. Passchendaele

Nick Lloyd

Nick Lloyd wrote this fascinating account of the Battle of Passchendaele to mark the 100th anniversary of the conflict. Often considered to be the most brutal battle of the First World War with a staggering loss of lives, Nick doesn't shy away from any detail. He explains how, despite the enormous tragedy, the Allies still managed to reclaim Passchendaele from the German Empire. This truly is a gripping read about a dark moment in military history.

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2. 1916: A Global History

Keith Jeffery

Keith Jeffery's book focuses on 1916 and looks at how 12 events from this year (one for each month) impacted the world. Being in the middle of the First World War, 1916 was a huge year for history and Keith features events directly related to the War, including the Battle of the Somme, and identifies the link between the war and events that may not appear to have as strong a connection, such as the death of Rasputin. Tying together military and social history, this book is a brilliant insight into the history of one very important year.

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3. The Fall of the Ottomans

Eugene Rogan

In this eye-opening history book, Eugene Rogan describes the fall of the Ottoman Empire. After holding power in the Middle East for four centuries, it was the Allied forces in World War One that brought down the Empire after the invasion of Gallipoli. Eugene Rogan provides a compelling and unbiased account of why and how the Ottomans were defeated.

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4. Oxford in the Great War

Malcolm Graham

Malcolm Graham's book focuses on the role the city of Oxford played in the First World War. Oxford contributed to the war effort in various ways; the men's colleges were devoted to military training and the city took in refugees from Belgium and Serbia. The book also shines a light on the women who went to work to keep the city running throughout the war. Discover the vital part that Oxford played in Britain's victory with Malcolm's fantastic book.

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5. Till the Trumpet Sounds Again

Nicola Randall

This fascinating First World War book tells the stories of the two battalions of the Scots Guards from the years 1914 to 1919. Nicola Randall aims to explain the experiences of these soldiers as if she were one of them, showing what they'd have seen, heard and felt whilst fighting in the trenches of France and Belgium. This immersive and compelling book tells a shocking and moving story of life as a WW1 Solider.

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6. The Great War Illustrated 1917

William Langford

This book is packed with incredible photography from the battlefields of the First World War. Many of the photographs included were taken for newspapers and magazines to show the people at home what the fighting was like, giving a unique and powerful glimpse into life at war. Plus, some of these photographs have rarely been seen since their original publication. This is the perfect visual guide for anyone with an interest in World War One history.

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7. The Telegraph Book of Readers' Letters from the Great War

Gavin Fuller

The Telegraph's chief archivist, Gavin Fuller, has brought together some of the most moving and interesting letters sent into the newspaper during the First World War. This gives an insight into the lives led by the people at home while the war was fought on other shores. These letters show the whole range of emotions felt when your country is at war, from fear to grief to pride.

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If you want some more powerful stories of war, then check out our full range of First World War books.

  • The Telegraph Book of Readers' Letters from the Great War - Hardback - 9781781313305 - Gavin Fuller
    • £4.49
    • RRP £14.99
    • Save £10.50Save 70.00%
    Compiled by the newspaper's chief archivist Gavin Fuller, The Telegraph Book of Readers' Letters from the Great War provides an emotional glimpse into what life was like during an event that changed the world forever...

    Covering the lead-up, duration and final moments of the entire First World War, the book showcases some of the poignant letters that were sent into the newspaper's headquarters as readers showed their pride, expressed their anxieties and vented their frustrations at the battles being fought far from home.

    A fascinating and heartbreaking insight into the minds of those Britons whose stories of war were told from relative safety, this book gives a voice to those who may not have been on the battlefields yet still remained scarred by tragedy, guilt and grief as they dealt with the anguish and fear for their loved ones.
  • OXGW
    • £3.99
    • RRP £9.99
    • Save £6.00Save 60.00%
    Written by local historian Malcolm Graham, Oxford in the Great War tells the fascinating, and largely forgotten, story of the city's part during this famously turbulent era.

    Oxford became a military training camp as soldiers and officer cadets occupied the men's collegesd. Public buildings were converted into military hospitals. The City took in Belgian and Serbian refugees. Oxford dons engaged in vital war work, and academic life largely depended upon the women's colleges.

    Local industries, including Morris's new car factory at Cowley, converted to war production, and women made munitions or replaced men in other work. This expert and fascinating account shows a civilian population coping with anxiety during a titanic struggle in which college heads and the humblest citizens were afflicted equally by the loss of loved ones.
  • PSCH
    • £8.99
    • RRP £25.00
    • Save £16.01Save 63.9999999999999937472239253111183643341064453125%
    The Battle of Passchendaele took place between July and November 1917 and is widely regarded as one of the worst battles of both World Wars.

    Fought by the Allies against the German Empire in a small corner of Belgium, it was a horrific event that ended with over 500,000 men killed, maimed, gassed or drowned - and many bodies were never found.

    This book marks the centenary of the event. Historian Nick Lloyd references previously unexamined German documents to explain how the offensive put the Allies nearer to a major turning point in the war than anyone has ever imagined...

    It's a fascinating and poignant read for anyone with an interest in military history, trench warfare or past wars.
  • NAGH
    • £4.99
    • RRP £9.99
    • Save £5.00Save 50.00%
    In this eye-opening book, Keith Jeffery looks at how the events of the First World War affected the rest of the world.

    Covering the 12 months of 1916, he picks out 12 key moments and reveals the impact they had on the rest of the world. As well as famous battles including Gallipoli and the Somme, the author also examines the Easter Rising, the Italian Front and the killing of Rasputin and explains how all of these related to the War.

    Thoroughly researched using a host of military, social and cultural sources, this book looks at just how much the war dramatically altered the state of so many nations.
    • £30.00
    • RRP £37.50
    • Save £7.50Save 19.000000000000001563194018672220408916473388671875%
    This is a story of soldiers at war against the background the two battalions of the Scots Guards who served in Belgium and France from 1914 to 1918. The author's purpose is to display - by getting in amongst them - what they knew, saw, heard, felt and experienced around them and who they were as people. It is clear that the author has attempted to look and listen mostly through these men's eyes and ears - and sometimes through those of others who watched and listened nearby. In conveying how the war appeared to them, the author has not sought to achieve any wider view - nor to explain more than what is considered to be essential. What went on when the men were not in the trenches or fighting a battle holds just as much interest as when they were. The book is written in a chronological, narrative form - using as a basis the war diaries of the battalions, and supplemented from August 1915 by the two volumes of Cuthbert Headlam's History of the Guards Division in the Great War 1915-1918. The main content of the book stems from diaries, letters, notes, occasional pieces of verse, military documents and reports - as well as some press cuttings and any relevant published works. There are three key elements to the book: the first is that a great deal of the material used forms part of private collections and thus has never before; second is the intensive research which has been conducted into individual officers and soldiers; the third element is the blending together of all the research into a coherent whole so that there is a steady flow in an extraordinary story which is full of shocks and surprises, enjoyment and laughter - and (even in the most inauspicious situations) sorrow, joy and determination. These officers and men were ordinary human beings who experienced extraordinary events. In all other ways, they behaved as soldiers do, in that they did what they had to do - often misbehaving out of the line, but rarely in it; enjoying what there was to enjoy and grumbling about much else. Among themselves they had their personal likes and dislikes, but all had to depend on each other and work together. Because of the comradeship borne of the shared experience at close quarters, they got to know each other very well indeed. One cannot be but humbled and moved by their resilience amid dire adversity - not least in the winter conditions of 1916-17. It is extremely important when reading to remember that they had no idea how long the war would continue - and it is not surprising how unexpected and unreal the announcement of the Armistice was for many. The Scots Guardsmen's understanding of what others were doing at any time was limited to what they saw and heard - very rarely anywhere near the whole story and often inaccurate (and sometimes, however unintentionally, unfair). Those British soldiers who took part in the Retreat from Mons saw and were well aware of the plight of the refugees - and they could see behind them the fires as the advancing Germans burnt farms and villages. Those who landed at Ostend and Zeebrugge early in October 1914 were similarly well aware of the plight of refugees. Those in the area east of the Somme battlefields after the Germans withdrew to the Hindenburg Line in March 1917 saw the scale of calculated destruction. Those in the last weeks of the war who advanced across largely unfought-over Belgian and French territory (in the case of the Scots Guards, east of Cambrai) first met pathetically grateful civilians. Whatever else the war was about, it was also about liberation.
    • £8.79
    • RRP £10.99
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    Sunday Times Top Ten Best-seller. The final destruction of the Ottoman Empire - one of the great epics of the First World War, from best-selling historian Eugene Rogan. For some four centuries the Ottoman Empire had been one of the most powerful states in Europe as well as ruler of the Middle East. By 1914 it had been drastically weakened and circled by numerous predators waiting to finish it off. Following the Ottoman decision to join the First World War on the side of the Central Powers the British, French and Russians hatched a plan to finish the Ottomans off: an ambitious and unprecedented invasion of Gallipoli...Eugene Rogan's remarkable book recreates one of the most important but poorly understood fronts of the First World War. Despite fighting back with great skill and ferocity against the Allied onslaught and humiliating the British both at Gallipoli and in Mesopotamia (Iraq), the Ottomans were ultimately defeated, clearing the way for the making, for better or worse, of a new Middle East which has endured to the present.
    • £24.00
    • RRP £30.00
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    Fourth in a series of five titles which will cover each year of the war graphically. Countless thousands of pictures were taken by photographers on all sides during the First World War. These pictures appeared in the magazines, journals and newspapers of the time. Some illustrations went on to become part of post-war archives and have appeared, and continue to appear, in present-day publications and TV documentary programmes - many did not. The Great War Illustrated series, beginning with the year 1914, will include in its pages many rarely seen images with individual numbers allocated, and subsequently they will be lodged with the Taylor Library Archive for use by editors and authors. The Great War Illustrated 1917 covers the battles at Arras, Passchendaele and Cambrai, the use of aviation and the role of the tanks. Some images will be familiar, and many will be seen for the first time by a new generation interested in the months that changed the world for ever.