As in his recent Short History of World War H (K 1979, p. 1422), Stokesbury has successfully compressed vast amounts of information into a compact, lucid descriptive history of the Great War. From the opening battles on the Marne and the Eastern Front, he moves on to the appalling butchery that characterized the war as a whole. Also clearly depicted are: the naval engagements, abortive moves like Gallipoli, imperial adventures in East Africa and other secondary theaters. Then, in due course, come the final collapse of Russia, the fatal war of 1918, and the peace of Versailles--all carefully woven into the narrative. The book is completely lacking in interpretation, however, above the high-school level. And Stokesbury's speculative aside that ""Europe might. . . have been better off had the Schlieffen Plan worked""--that is, had Germany's invasion of France succeeded, had all the bloodshed been avoided--raises a host of questions (about the ultimate aims of the Second Reich's leaders) that are unanswered here. But with a good bibliography to spur further reading, this is nonetheless the best single-volume general history of World War I to appear in many years.