If you haven’t read either of Margaret Macmillan’s epic works on World War I, The War That Ended Peace and Paris 1919, published in 2014 and 2003 respectively, then you are missing out on the new industry standards on the topic. More specifically, the author deals with the recent history leading up to war and its aftermath, played out in the Paris Peace talks. The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914 is one of the must reads in the field of history, and Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World gives additional information to the readers.
The actual war (also known as the Great War, the War to End all Wars and World War I) itself is not delved into, but only alluded to. So I suggest Macmillan’s books as necessary pre- and post-reads to another author’s actual war description, such as John Keegan’s, The First World War.
Margaret Macmillan actually wrote the book on the war’s aftermath first. So I suggest reading her second book first, then Keegan, then Macmillan again.
The War That Ended Peace, can be compared to the classic Barbara Tuchman’s, The Guns of August. It is so thoroughly researched and well-written, it would seem no key player, event, or analysis is left untouched. The same can be said for Paris 1919, which was made into a T.V. documentary and is annually televised in November.
Even though these are understandably, rather involved works the author’s prose are very readable as she has managed to conveniently write for both the academic and the layperson.