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I meant to do a quick (like one sentence) diary noting the 100 year anniversary of WW1 on July 28, but forgot in part because the world is in such crisis now.

I don't know much about World War 1, the only history I've read was The Guns of August, and some historical fiction.  But what I've gleaned is that it was a war of choice and it arose out of prior smaller wars and increased Imperialism across the globe.  And I would like to learn more about it; it ushered in the true 20th century.

I despair if the human people will ever achieve real peace and enlightenment.  But I believe that progress cannot be stopped, and I have great hope that our young people (who have greater diversity in their own lives and circles) will eventually bring us forward into the 21st century.

Just some random thoughts on a warm (and dry) CA evening.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (8+ / 0-)

    Every election is the most important election.

    by TokayAsriel on Sat Aug 02, 2014 at 07:04:51 PM PDT

  •  If you're interested in more... (8+ / 0-)

    Goto "MrLiberal"s diary series "Countdown to WWI" which describes each daze events between the murder of the Archduke and his wife in Sarajevo and the beginning of the war.

    I was already appalled, having read "The Guns of August" years ago, MrLiberal s diary is even more appalling, if that's even possible.

    The series is involved, I've only read about five of them so far....

    If you liked Tuchman's book, go find her older work about WWI, "The Zimmerman Telegram" which is about the Chermins trying to draw Mexico into the conflict to thwart the US's involvement in the European war....The telegram was leaked, which led to a diplomatic kerfuffle....

    "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

    by leftykook on Sat Aug 02, 2014 at 07:25:29 PM PDT

  •  It was the war to end all wars (4+ / 0-)

    It didn't work!

    Fighting for Peace is like Fucking for Chastity.

  •  The 'bookend' for "Guns of August", is (3+ / 0-)

    "The Proud Tower" also by Tuchmann, it explains a good deal of the 'how' they got into the war, both have been recently re-released, my paperback copies are pretty dogeared, they are packed with information. For war reporting (what happened in the fighting) John Toland's "No Mans Land" covers the final  (desperate) year of the war.

    May you live in interesting times--Chinese curse

    by oldcrow on Sat Aug 02, 2014 at 08:26:46 PM PDT

  •  One of the best books written on the subject (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    was written by Winston Churchill after the Great War.  A really fascinating book that lays bare his distaste for the war.

    One of the least recognized facts of the Great War was its primacy of defense.  Never before in history had it been impossible to overrun a defensive position given adequate men, but modern artillery and machine guns made a static defensive position with entrenchments dominant.  The generals did not come to grips with this notion easily, so they built train tracks to the battlegrounds so they could serve the battle by the boxcar load.  They died by the boxcar load and so you have the horrendous death tolls of the Marne and the other great battles.

    Churchill was livid about the folly.  One of his written critiques at the time said, and I have to paraphrase, even if you leave out the immorality of sending men off to fight steel with their naked breasts, you can't win a war of attrition when there are more of them, and they are killing you at a faster rate than you are killing them.

    Of course there are many fine books about the prelude to WWII which is what The Great War turned out to be, but the Churchill book is very readable.

    "I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man..." Robbie Robertson

    by NearlyNormal on Sat Aug 02, 2014 at 08:35:21 PM PDT

  •  One of the things that always fascinated me abo... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    One of the things that always fascinated me about WWI was the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

    A large, multiethnic agglomeration of small states, stricken with political infighting, economic turmoil, civilian unrest, indecisive governance, overextended spy networks and secret police...

    ...sound familiar?

    THE GOOD SOLDIER SVEJK describes life in the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the eve of the War.

  •  "The Great War" is where everything changed (0+ / 0-)

    A Rip Van Winkle from Europe or the US or the British Commonwealth who'd been asleep since the spring of 1914 would have been bewildered at what he'd have found waking up just 5 years later. In many ways WW2 was just The Great War Reloaded, & indeed some historians consider the two a single 30 Years' War of the 20th century with a 20-year truce in the middle.

    When I was in Sarajevo in 1985 a building at the fatal/fateful corner had been turned into a museum honoring Gavrilo Princip, & in the cement sidewalk outside were two shoeprints that supposedly marked the spot from which he fired the deadly bullets.

    I stood in those shoeprints & tried to feel the cosmic axis creaking around me.

    Apparently the shoeprints were removed when the museum was closed down in the 1990s. The museum has been repurposed & reinstated; apparently the shoeprints have not.


    by Uncle Cosmo on Sun Aug 03, 2014 at 08:32:30 AM PDT

  •  After going through the standard sources (0+ / 0-)

    it's worth plowing through Cataclysm: The First World War as Political Tragedy, by David Stevenson. It's a pretty dry read compared with Keegan's book or Martin Gilbert's The First World War, but it makes a pretty fair case that the military leaders of the Great War were not entirely monsters sending men to their deaths in cold blood--they were entrapped by the limitations of logistics and technology as much as by their own failures of understanding & vision. Not until the logistics were exhausted & the technology developed could the bizarre zone-of-the-armies stalemates be broken & a resolution achieved.

    The first time I visited London I went out of my way to cross to the Douglas Haig equestrian statue in order to spit on it. After reading Cataclysm I'm not altogether sure I'd go out of my way to do so again.


    by Uncle Cosmo on Sun Aug 03, 2014 at 08:47:35 AM PDT

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