After the first few months of World War I, the Western Front consisted of a relatively static line of trench systems which stretched from the coast of the North Sea southwards to the Swiss border. To try to break through the opposing lines of trenches and barbed wire entanglements, both sides employed huge artillery bombardments followed by attacks by tens of thousands of soldiers. Battles could last for months and led to casualties measured in hundreds of thousands for attacker and defender alike. After most of these attacks, only a short section of the front would have moved and only by a few kilometres. The principal adversaries on the Western Front, who fielded armies of millions of men, were Germany to the East against a western alliance to the West consisting of France and the United Kingdom with sizeable contingents from the British Empire. The United States entered the war in 1917 and by the summer of 1918 had an army of around half a million men which rose to a million by the time the Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918. For most of World War I, Allied Forces, predominantly those of France and the British Empire, were stalled at trenches on the Western Front. With the aid of numerous black and white and colour photographs, many previously unpublished, the History of World War I series recreates the battles and campaigns that raged across the surface of the globe, on land, at sea and in the air. The text is complemented by full-colour maps that guide the reader through specific actions and campaigns.
Michael S. Neilberg is Professor of History and co-director of the Center for the Study of War and Society at the University of Southern Mississippi. He is the author or editor of more than a dozen books, including his first book, Making Citizen-Soldiers: ROTC and the Ideology of American Military Service , published by Harvard University Press in 2000. He taught on the faculty of the United States Air Force Academy for eight years and focuses his work on the international dimensions of the First World War and warfare more generally. Among his most recent books are Fighting the Great War: A Global History (Harvard University Press) and a forthcoming study of the Second Battle of the Marne, to be published by Indiana University Press for its Twentieth Century Battles series. Dennis E. Showalter is a professor of history at Colorado College who specializes in German military history. He was president of the American Society for Military History from 1997 to 2001.