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However, later generations of historians have found mileage in revising this view.While the Donkeys have always been ripe for recalibration, and careers built on provocation have always found material (such as Niall Ferguson's ), the centenary commemorations found historiography split between a phalanx wishing to create a new martial pride and sideline the worst of the war to create an image of a conflict well worth fighting and then truly won by the allies, and those who wished to stress the alarming and pointless imperial game millions of people died for.
World War I was the first to make major use of machine guns, which soon showed their defensive qualities.
It was also the first to see poison gas used on the battlefields, a weapon which both sides made use of, and the first to see tanks, which were initially developed by the allies and later used to great success.
Despite massive battles like Ypres, little progress was made and a battle of attrition emerged, caused partly by German intentions to 'bleed the French dry' at Verdun and Britain's attempts on the Somme.
There was more movement on the Eastern Front with some major victories, but there was nothing decisive and the war carried on with high casualties.
Austro-Hungary asked for German support and was promised a 'blank cheque'; they declared war on Serbia on July 28th.
What followed was a sort of domino effect as more and more nations joined the fight.
Declarations continued until much of Europe was at war with each other. After the swift German invasion of France was stopped at the Marne, 'the race to the sea' followed as each side tried to outflank each other ever closer to the English Channel.
This left the entire Western Front divided by over 400 miles of trenches, around which the war stagnated.
There was devastation across Europe: 59 million troops had been mobilized, over 8 million died and over 29 million were injured.
Huge quantities of capital had been passed to the now emergent United States and the culture of every European nation was deeply affected and the struggle became known as The Great War or The War to End All Wars.