Who's Who in World War One

By Stephenson, Scott | Military Review, September-October 2003 | Go to article overview

Who's Who in World War One


Stephenson, Scott, Military Review


J.M. Bourne, Routledge, New York, 2001, 316 pages, $29.95.

Books like Who's Who in World War One usually reach only a "niche" audience. However, the narrow readership of such a book does not limit one's admiration of this fine reference. University of Birmingham History Professor J.M. Bourne provides over a thousand thumbnail biographies of the people who were involved in the war. On the other hand, Bourne is not satisfied with just reviewing the careers of "great men"--major political and military leaders. He also considers inventors, artists, writers, and scientists who achieved prominence as a result of the war. Each sketch highlights the person's role and acknowledges that the entries serve only as starting points for research.

Bourne's selection of which person gets coverage will sometimes surprise the reader. For instance, French Marshal Ferdinand Foch, the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces on the Western Front, gets one page; William H. Livens, the inventor of the "Liven projector" of gas munitions receives half a page; Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia receives one page; while Lloyd George, who was the British Prime Minister during much of the war, receives two pages.

Bourne's choice of subjects illustrates his Anglo-centric focus. Clearly, he expects the British Commonwealth to provide the core readership for his book. He covers virtually every corps commander who served in the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) while he rarely covers commanders below army level from other countries. …

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