How was World War I so shockingly different from previous wars?

World War I was so shockingly different from previous wars in that its death toll was extremely high. New technology led to very high casualties, even among civilians.

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World War I was shocking in the extent of the death and destruction it caused. This was the first war to use a lot of new deadly technology. Airplanes, machine guns, submarines, poison gas, and tanks changed the very nature of warfare. However, tactics did not keep up with the technology. Generals were still using battle tactics devised in the Napoleonic Wars to fight on this new modern battlefield. Having soldiers charge in mass across open fields to be slaughtered by a few heavy machine guns led to incredibly high casualties with little to show for it. Tens of thousands of soldiers could die on a single day. Never before had the world witnessed such carnage.

When the war began in the summer of 1914, many felt that it would be a quick and relatively bloodless war. Recruits were often told it would be over by Christmas. However, as the war quickly turned into a bloody stalemate, it became clear to many that this would be different than ever before.

Civilian deaths as a result of the war...

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on June 29, 2020
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