A History of the Great War - Vol. 1

A History of the Great War - Vol. 1

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A History of the Great War - Vol. 1

A History of the Great War - Vol. 1

Read FREE!

Excerpt

This work in its original form appeared in twenty-four volumes between February 1915 and July 1919, and was therefore written and published for the most part during the progress of the campaign. Begun as an experiment to pass the time during a period of enforced inaction, its large sales and the evidence forthcoming that it met a certain need induced me to continue it as a duty, and the bulk of it was written in the scanty leisure which I could snatch from service abroad and at home. Any narrative produced under such conditions must bristle with imperfections. It will contain many errors of fact. The writer cannot stage his drama or prepare the reader for a sudden change by a gradual revelation of its causes. His work must have something of the apparent inconsequence of real life. He records one month a sanguine mood and a hopeful forecast; three months later he will tell of depression and of expectations belied. He must set out interim judgments, and presently recant—them.

After much reflection I decided to revise—and largely rewrite—the book in order to give it perspective and a juster scale, and I was moved to this decision by my view of the value of contemporary history. Sir Walter Raleigh, in the preface to his History of the World, excuses himself for not writing the story of his own times, which (he says) might have been more pleasing to the reader, on the ground that "whosoever in writing a moderne Historie shall follow truth too neare the heeles, it may happily strike out his teeth." To Napoleon, on the contrary, it seemed that contemporary history was the surest. "One can say what occurred one year after an event as well as a hundred years. It is more likely to be true, because the reader can judge by his own knowledge." Between two such opinions reason would seem . . .

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