It was called “The War to End All Wars” in the early twentieth century. Forgotten by some and overshadowed by the war that followed 20 years later, the First World War helped to shape the twentieth century and was, as the back matter describes, one of the most destructive conflicts of all time.

The book opens in the Somme during July of 1916 — a charge across no man’s land seems imminent. The story is narrated by George Smith as he writes a personal history of the Great War, whilst questioning it, saying, “there is nothing great about it.” His story begins with the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand by Serbian Gavrilo Princip. Six weeks later, due in part to a number of factors, Europe erupted in war. Soon after the first British defeat at Mons in 1914, 16-year-old George enlists in the British Army, lying about his age in order to join up. George speaks of losses and the British view of the war as battles are won and lost, ground lost and gained. George and his brother Joe survive to see the armistice signed, but one last casualty rocks the Smith family before the official armistice on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918.

The story is gripping. The first person narrative from George Smith drives the story as battles unfold and pieces of history unfold — less-known stories, such as ones surrounding the first casualties of the war—come forward as integral pieces of the plot. From the first casualty of war to the last, Alan Cowsill pulls readers into the story, enabling them to participate in the war and look forward to its end, a war described by British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey as putting out lamps all across Europe, lamps that “we shall not see…lit again in our lifetime.” Readers join George in his sorrow in the trenches of France, amid exhaustive casualty lists which are provided following many grim battle scenes.

The full-color art of Lalit Kumar Sharma brings staggering realism to the horrors of the war. In an age when new developments in war technology gave mankind new ways of dealing death to his enemy, Sharma captures the essence of the battlefield from no man’s land between the trenches to the bird’s eye view of history’s first wartime pilots. The closing image of the poppy wreath is extremely appropriate as poppies were some of the only flowers to emerge on the war-torn fields of Europe and serve as an ever-present symbol of remembrance.

The images are graphic, and for this reason this book is best suited for high school and up. For many history students, a book like this may be the only exposure they receive to the First World War and it presents an accurate depiction of the wartime experience which would benefit teachers and students alike. In addition, adult history buffs will also likely draw a great deal of enjoyment from this volume because of the narrator’s insight into the daily life of the WWI soldier.

World War One, 1914-1918
by Alan Cowsill
Art by Lalit Kumar Sharma
ISBN: 9789380741857
Campfire Graphic Novels, 2014
Publisher Age Rating:

  • Wayne Cherry

    Past Reviewer

    This reviewer is not longer actively working on our site, but we would not be here if not for our many dedicated contributors over the years. We thank all of them for their reviews, features, and support!

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