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Machine Guns & the Great War (Paperback)

Military > Machine Guns WWI > Guns & Machine Guns

By Paul Cornish
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 184
Illustrations: 30 illustrations
ISBN: 9781399014519
Published: 8th November 2021



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The machine-gun is one of the iconic weapons of the Great War - indeed of the twentieth century. Yet it is also one of the most misunderstood. During a four-year war that generated unprecedented casualties, the machine-gun stood out as a key weapon. In the process it took on an almost legendary status that persists to the present day. It shaped the tactics of the trenches, while simultaneously evolving in response to the tactical imperatives thrown up by this new form of warfare. Paul Cornish, in this authoritative and carefully considered study, reconsiders the history automatic firepower, and he describes in vivid detail its development during the First World War and the far-reaching consequences thereof. He dispels many myths and misconceptions that have grown up around automatic firearms, but also explores their potency as symbols and icons. His clear-sighted reassessment of the phenomenon of the machine-gun will be fascinating reading for students of military history and of the Great War in particular.

Featured in

Great War IPMS, Great War SIG newsletter – October 2021

Not only is this book a bible of information n for anyone interested in the machine gun during, it also incorporates a chronicle of images which provide a clear picture of all machine gun images during this period.

Jon Sandison, Freelance

For those wanting a little more in-depth information about the role and development of machine guns during the war, this book offers an excellent, well written and easily accessible account of what became the iconic weapon of the war, mainly due to the massive casualties it was able to inflict. . . This really is well worth reading.

Great War Magazine

This clear-sighted reassessment of the phenomenon of the machine gun is required reading for students of modern military history and of the Great War in particular.

Classic Arms and Militaria

About Paul Cornish

Paul Cornish is currently senior curator in the Department of Exhibits & Firearms, Imperial War Museum, and he previously worked at the British Museum. He is a leading expert on the history of the machine-gun and its use in the Great War. He has written widely on the history of firearms, and his work has appeared in many of the leading military history periodicals including Military Illustrated, and the Osprey Military Journal. He has also contributed a chapter on weapons and equipment to Special Operations Executive: A New Instrument of War. Recently he has turned his attention to the study of Material Culture, and has published papers in Matters of Conflict: Material Culture, Memory and the First World War, Contested Objects and Bodies in Conflict the two latter of which he co-edited (with N.J. Saunders). He has also written military history entries for Microsoft Encarta, obituaries for the Guardian newspaper and book reviews for The Year in Reference, New Scientist and Military Illustrated.

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