Offering a comprehensive account of the war as more than a purely military phenomenon, World War I: A History in Documents, Second Edition, also addresses its profound social, cultural, and economic implications. Authors Marilyn Shevin-Coetzee and Frans Coetzee use editorials, memoirs, newspaper articles, poems, and letters to re-create the many facets of the war. Technological developments such as the machine gun and barbed wire brought the world trench warfare, which is vividly depicted here in a firsthand account of then-soldier Benito Mussolini. An Atlantic Monthly essay by the African-American sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois draws attention to the conflict's origins in imperialist greed in Africa. A poor French girl's thank-you note to a charitable American demonstrates the plight of Europe's children. And a photo essay of poster art reveals the passion and propaganda aroused on every side. This second edition includes an updated introduction with a note on sources and interpretation, more than forty new documents and images, and updated further reading and website lists.
The new documents offer additional material on colonialism in Africa and on specific military aspects of the war, including an excerpt on the coming of war in Germany from Stefan Zweig's autobiography; a description of the Brusilov offensive; the diary of a German deserter; an account of the Christmas truce; soldiers' poetry; a diary from the Gallipoli campaign; Jan Smuts's report on fighting in east Africa; and a report from the battle of Jutland. Several new literary sources, including a poem by Anna Akhmatova, are also included. The new images of satirical German postcards and a broadside of the Proclamation of a Provisional Government of the Irish Republic allow readers to see rare ephemera and build a more textured historical understanding of the war.