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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918

To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918

1 rating: 3.0
A book by Adam Hochschild

Starred Review. WWI remains the quintessential war-unequaled in concentrated slaughter, patriotic fervor during the fighting, and bitter disillusion afterward, writes Hochschild. Many opposed it and historians mention this in passing, but Hochschild, … see full wiki

Tags: Books
Author: Adam Hochschild
Genre: History
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
1 review about To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and...

Peace to End Peace

  • May 7, 2011
Rating:
+3

Sir Alfred Milner, whose British leadership played a part in the Boer War to close the 19th century and then the Great War to start the 20th century litany of horrors, coined the phrase I used as my title for this review to describe the Versailles treaty of 1919.  A play on Woodrow Wilson's claim that the war just ended was to end all wars, Milner's bon mot would prove the more prescient.  

Hochschild's history of the well0-documented Great War focuses on such issues of war and peace, finding its niche in examining how the efforts and leaders of the Boer War in South Africa would carry their lessons and leadership styles, good and bad, back to the seat of Empire.  In parallel, he also examines how the critics and protesters of the Great War learned their craft in the same schools of war.   By focusing on these parallel threads of personal, poignant and sometimes amazingly interconnected relationships on both sides of the battle Hochschild is able to bring a fresh look to the war.

Besides Milner, we meet General French, who lead the British troops in both wars while carrying on numerous affairs and spending money so profligately that he had to borrow money from his sister. We also meet his sister, Charlotte Despard, who was a well-known activist for women's voting rights--and a very public and violently anti-war activist!  She was joined by the Pankhurst family--mother and three daughters--whom we meet and follow through twists and turns in their relationships to each other and the issues of the war and women's voting.

Hochshild is very good at taking these vast scopes of time, geography and characters and focusing on the fascinating and compelling stories within them.  For example, we learn that even today, nearly a century later, tons of unexploded munitions from this war are unearthed by farmers and construction crews and must be removed by demolition squads, with a few deaths every year when they explode without warning.  With these small details, Hochshild builds a worthy account of the war that began all wars of the century ahead.

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May 07, 2011
This article is great for history buffs.
 
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