For the British Empire and its allies of the Great War, 1917 was a year marked by one crisis after another. There was the overthrow of the Russian czar and the collapse of his massive armies, and the mutinies of the battered French army. There was also social and political upheaval on the home front, including labour unrest in Britain and opposition to conscription in Canada and Australia. But, here and there, glimmers of light pierced the gloom. Soldiers began solving the problems posed by trench warfare. The dominions, inspired by burgeoning nationalism, asserted themselves more in the councils of imperial power. And the United States finally entered the war.
Turning Point 1917 examines the British imperial war effort during the most pivotal and dynamic twelve months of the Great War. Written by internationally recognized historians from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, its chapters explore military, diplomatic, and domestic aspects of how the empire prosecuted the war. Their rich, nuanced analysis transcends narrow, national viewpoints of the conflict to examine the British Empire as a coalition rather than individual states engaged in their own distinctive struggles.
By drawing attention to the events that made 1917 a turning point, this book provides a unique perspective on the war. These events ultimately laid the groundwork for victory, strengthening the position of the British Empire relative to its enemies while, at the same time, forging arrangements to accommodate the increasingly divergent interests and identities of the dominions.
This book will interest scholars, students and general readers interested in the history of the Great War, the empire, and its constituent states. There will also be considerable press and public interest during 2017, which marks the centenary year for events discussed in the book.
All of the writings [in Turning Point 1917] are well chosen, and they underscore the fact that there is much more to properly understanding World War I than just focusing on the Western Front … [F]or aficionados of the Great War, Turning Point 1917 is a must-read.
Looking at a disparate variety of regions, crises, and themes in 1917, this fascinating volume examines how seemingly disconnected events overlapped to change the course of the war for Britain and its allies. Written by leading international experts of diplomatic, military, and naval history, Turning Point 1917 sets the benchmark for future comparative analyses.
Turning Point 1917 combines classic military history with studies of social factors and cultural dimensions to look at how events in 1917 marked not only a turning point in the Great War but also in the relationships between Britain and the dominions. This is a very important volume.
Douglas E. Delaney holds the Canada Research Chair in War Studies at the Royal Military College of Canada. He is the author of The Soldiers’ General: Bert Hoffmeister at War (2005), which won the 2007 C.P. Stacey Prize for Canadian Military History, and Corps Commanders: Five British and Canadian Generals at War, 1939-45 (2011). He is also co-editor (with Serge Marc Durflinger) of Capturing Hill 70: Canada’s Forgotten Battle of the First World War (2016).
Nikolas Gardner holds the Class of 1965 Chair in Leadership at the Royal Military College of Canada. He is the author of Trial by Fire: Command and the British Expeditionary Force in 1914 (2003) and The Siege of Kut-al-Amara: At War in Mesopotamia, 1915-1916 (2014).
Introduction: Turning Points and Tapestries / Douglas E. Delaney and Nikolas Gardner
1 Never Over by Christmas: Meeting the Challenges of Interminable War / William Philpott
2 The Blockade in 1917 / Keith Neilson
3 The Imperial Munitions Board and Merchant Shipbuilding in Canada / Chris Madsen and Michael Moir
4 A Question of Command: GHQ and the Dominions, 1917 / Ian F.W. Beckett
5 The Egyptian Expeditionary Force in 1917 / Jeffrey Grey
6 “The Willing Horse Is Being Worked to Death”: New Zealand’s Manpower Problems and Policies during 1917 / John Crawford
7 The Africanization of British Imperial Forces in the East African Campaign / Tim Stapleton
8 Vimy’s Consequence: The Montreal Anti-Conscription Disturbances, May to September 1917 / Serge Marc Durflinger
9 The British Media and the Image of the Empire in 1917 / Mark Connelly
A Few Concluding Remarks / Douglas E. Delaney and Nikolas Gardner
Selected Bibliography; Contributors; Index
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