Mapping the First World War: The Great War through Maps from 1914 to 1918

Article excerpt

MAPPING THE FIRST WORLD WAR: The Great War through Maps from 1914 to 1918

by Peter Chasseaud Collins, in association with Imperial War Museums, hb, 30 [pounds sterling]

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Maps, in a sense, are what all wars are about. Disputing their accuracy, changing their colours, redrawing their boundaries: these are major causes and consequences of conflict. But the many maps in Peter Chasseaud's book reveal not just some of the underlying causes of the Great War but indicate its progress: these are maps that chart history as it happened and, as such, were as much tools for the combatants as documents for the historian.

So, a map showing 'enemy aerial activity', its battle-line overscored with pencil scribbles indicating the passing of reconnaissance aircraft overhead, spoke volumes to those on the ground: when the sorties flew deeper than usual over the front line it was an indication of an impending attack. Another, overprinted on an Ordnance Survey base map and not intended for public consumption, shows the routes taken by German bombers over London and the Thames Estuary, indicating where defences were most needed. …

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