A Book to End All Books

By Hastings, Max | The Evening Standard (London, England), April 23, 2001 | Go to article overview

A Book to End All Books


Hastings, Max, The Evening Standard (London, England)


Byline: MAX HASTINGS

THE FIRST WORLD WAR VOLUME I: TO ARMS by Hew Strachan (Oxford [pound]30) IN the past few years, some remarkably silly books about the First World War have been published, some by shameless academic sensation-seekers.

Reviewers have battened eagerly onto nonsense about Britain 's responsibility for the whole business. All manner of shaky new theories have been advanced, in the struggle to find something new to say, and to sell.

Well, that game is over, or certainly should be, with publication of the first volume of Hew Strachan 's Oxford history of the conflict. This deserves to rank as one of the most impressive books of modern history in a generation. It reflects 20 years research, and mastery of the literature of many nations. Who could fail to be impressed by a bibliography which includes such works as "Afigbo, AE, The warrant chief;indirect rule in south-eastern Nigeria 1891-1929 (London 1972)"?

The book addresses every aspect of global conflict diplomacy, politics, finance, industry, battle on land and at sea, in Europe, Africa and around the world. It is determinedly non-Anglocentric. How many British historians of the period, never mind students, know that the French had to keep 200, 000 men in North Africa throughout the war, suppressing internal revolt?We read of German colonists in Cameroon manufacturing their own ammunition to sustain resistance against the British, of Japan as the only belligerent successfully to pursue coherent war aims, of JP Morgan 's fantastic wartime financing operations, of the German attempt to raise Jihad in Islam, which offers bizarre echoes of John Buchan 's Greenmantle.

The authors of some recent big-selling First World War books have revealed an embarrassing lack of understanding of mat-

ters military. This has damaged their credibility, if not their royalties.

Strachan, by contrast, displays his authority on strategy, tactics, ordnance, logistics. More even than scholarship, his good sense and repudiation of sensation command confidence.

There is no loose talk here of "blame "for the war as an absolute. He paints a convincing picture of the powers stumbling towards Armageddon in a fog of ignorance.

The Kaiser 's Germany did not want war, but postured and gestured with a recklessness which conferred a heavy historical responsibility. By 1914, "the alliances had become a major vehicle for the expression of a great power 's status ", and thus alliance solidarity became the prime mover for dragging the world into conflict. German political clumsiness contributed mightily to war, but "there was no attempt by the Germans in July 1914 to manage events ". As ever, and surely rightly, the cock-up theory of history prevails.

Throughout Europe, there was astonishingly little prewar contact between soldiers and politicians. Even those military men who perceived the likely horrors and duration of a conflagration failed to convey their expectations to national leaders or to the public: "The popular image of war proved insufficiently awful for deterrence to operate . . . Popular enthusiasm played no part in causing the First World War. Yet without a popular willingness . . . the war could not have taken place. "Strachan rejects the argument that economic rivalries between the European powers made war inevitable. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A Book to End All Books
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.