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Coalition Strategy and the End of the First World War

Coalition Strategy and the End of the First World War
The Supreme War Council and War Planning, 1917–1918


Award Winner

Part of Cambridge Military Histories

  • Date Published: January 2019
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108475303

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About the Authors
  • When the Germans requested an armistice in October 1918, it was a shock to the Allied political and military leadership. They had been expecting, and planning for, the war to continue into 1919, the year they hoped to achieve a complete military victory over the Central Powers. Meighen McCrae illuminates how, throughout this planning process, the Supreme War Council evolved to become the predominant mechanism for coalition war-making. She analyses the Council's role in the formulation of an Allied strategy for 1918–1919 across the various theatres of war and compares the perspectives of the British, French, Americans and Italians. In doing so we learn how, in an early example of modern alliance warfare, the Supreme War Council had to coordinate national needs with coalition ones.

    • Argues that the Supreme War Council was a successful mechanism for coalition war
    • Offers new insights into the central role of the United States in the Allied war effort
    • Contends that there was an Allied strategy, as opposed to just national strategies, that was based on the interdependent nature of the theatres of war
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    • Winner, 2021 Distinguished Book Award, First Book, The Society of Military History

    Reviews & endorsements

    'With this timely, balanced and illuminating study of the Supreme War Council, Meighen McCrae gives us an excellent opportunity to reconsider both Allied strategy in 1917–18 and the difficulties of fighting a coalition war. Essential reading for students of the First World War, grand strategy and conflict resolution.' Jonathan Boff, University of Birmingham

    'Meighen McCrae's deeply researched study of the creation, workings and achievements of the Supreme War Council in 1918 illuminates the key factors that bound together the Entente Allies, allowing them to prevail. Using American, British and French sources, she gives a more comprehensive picture of the war's global nature than that offered by many historians. This fine work enhances our understanding of how and why the First World War ended in Allied victory.' Elizabeth Greenhalgh, University of New South Wales, Canberra

    'A very important read for anyone seriously interested in the Great War or in the problems of coalition warfare.' A. A. Nofi, The NYMAS Review

    'Seeing the war to a final and successful conclusion forced the Allies to think about how to prioritize not just time but space. In this insightful and thought-provoking book, Meighen McCrae analyzes how they did so, giving us new intellectual tools to understand an old problem.' Michael S. Neiberg, European History Quarterly

    '… Coalition Strategy and the End of the First World War makes a valuable contribution to First World War and international relations literature.' Alexander Watson, American Historical Review

    '… this work is essential reading for those interested in First World War strategy and policy and the practices of coalition warfare.' William Philpott, English Historical Review

    '… McCrae takes an innovative and thought-provoking perspective upon the issue of British strategy-making in the conflict.' David Morgan-Owen, The Journal of Strategic Studies

    '… McCrae … takes her doctorate forward into an important and detailed study of the development of coalition strategy in 1918-19 and notably in terms of the workings of the Supreme War Council …' Jeremy Black, History Australia

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2019
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108475303
    • length: 292 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 160 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.56kg
    • contains: 1 b/w illus. 4 maps 7 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The Supreme War Council
    2. Offensive action in the Balkans?
    3. Eliminate the Ottoman Empire?
    4. Maintaining the Italians – the role of the Italian theatre in creating an Allied strategy
    5. The role of the Franco-Belgian front in determining an Allied policy for 1919
    6. Building a bridge to France: the role of resources in creating an Allied strategy for 1919

  • Author

    Meighen McCrae, Australian National University, Canberra
    Meighen McCrae is Lecturer in the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at Australian National University, Canberra.


    • Winner, 2021 Distinguished Book Award, First Book, The Society of Military History
    • Norman B. Tomlinson, Jr., prize for 2020 for the best work of history in English on World War One

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