The Balkan Wars are some of the lesser known and written about wars even though they set helped set the stage for and foreshadowed World War I. In this centennial year of the beginning of World War I, I wanted to read up on this prelude to the great war. I came away from reading Prelude to the First World War: The Balkan Wars 1912-1913 with mixed feelings. I was looking forward to reading it, I wanted to like it, but ultimately just couldn’t get past “meh.”
This isn’t a bad book. It’s very informative; it sets the stage for the wars, takes a look at the capabilities of the combatants, explains why things happened the way they did and frames what happened in reference to World War I to come. The problem is that this book falls into an easy trap for military history books; for the most part it was dry. It mostly consists of “such and such Division/Corps/Army had X number of troops, Y number of guns, and moved toward so and so. Without a doubt, the forces and equipment are important, but I feel that the author could have done more to develop the personalities of the key players. Another issue is that there were maps in line with the text, but they were somewhat misplaced; it would have been nice to have them closer to the battles they were relevant to.
After thinking about it for a few days, I can only give Prelude to the First World War: The Balkan Wars 1912-1913 three stars. I never felt that I got really into the book or drawn into the history of the Balkan Wars. Despite the fact that it was informative and I learned a lot about the topic, I never really felt engaged. If you really want to learn about the Balkan Wars, I would recommend it but if you’re just looking for a casual read this is not the book for you.