Translated from the German Enzyklopädie Erster Weltkrieg (2003), Brill’s Encyclopedia of the First World War (2012) is an excellent complement to the Library’s Encyclopedia of World War I (2005) and United States in the First World War (1995). With its emphasis on the social aspects of the war, the Encyclopedia covers numerous topics not included in the Encyclopedia of World War I, such as barbarians, disability, sexuality, newspapers and war toys. Half of the first volume of the Encyclopedia is dedicated to essays on warring nations, the social aspects of the war and the course of the war. Noteworthy are the essays on the social aspects of the war, such as the ones on war literature, propaganda, scientists and religion. A complete list of essays is available on the publisher’s website.
Although international in scope, the Encyclopedia overrepresents German individuals and organizations as is to be expected from a German language publication. The nine-pages long historiography essay focuses on (West-) German scholarship, but also references Anglo-Saxon and French contributions. A separate essay is dedicated to World War I scholarship in the former GDR.
The Encyclopedia’s subject index simply mirrors the A-Z list of entries and will disappoint the reader who expects detailed subject indexing. Chemical warfare and chemical weapons, for example, are not listed in the index although it would have been helpful to add a cross-reference to gas warfare. Unfortunately, the Encyclopedia is only available in print, but interested readers can compensate for the lack of a detailed index by referring to the full text search feature available for the German language copy on Google Books.
Can’t wait to get your hands on it? The print volumes of the Encyclopedia are shelved on the second floor of Falvey. Sample entries are available online on the publisher’s website. A detailed review of the German original is available on H-Net Reviews.
Questions or comments? Contact me directly (firstname.lastname@example.org) or post your comments online.