Revisiting World War I Draws New Interest

By Silbergeld, David L. L. | National Defense, May 2002 | Go to article overview

Revisiting World War I Draws New Interest


Silbergeld, David L. L., National Defense


Inerest in World War I seems to be on the increase among historians and authors. Labeled as "the War to End All Wars," it brought about the concept of total war. It saw the rise of modern warfare in the form of new and deadly weapons that included poison gas, flame throwers, machine guns, tanks, aircraft, zeppelins and submarines.

World War I was the first of the major 20th Century catastrophes. Never had so many nations taken up arms at the same time and in such a violent manner. It was fought in so many divergent places-from the trenches of Europe, across the seas of the world, into the far reaches of the deserts-- that it reshaped the political landscape of the planet. The following books shed some light on the Great War.

"World War I: Turning Points In World History," by Donald J. Murphy (Ed.), Greenhaven Press: San Diego, Calif. $19.95 (paperback). This book describes:

* The war's trigger, the 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

* The conflict's expansion, from 1914 to 1916 with the battles of Verdun, the Somme, Gallipoli, Germany's introduction of gas attacks, unrestricted submarine warfare, and the home fronts both among the central powers and the allies.

* The war's end, from 1917 to 1918, including the Russian revolution, U.S. intervention, and the defeat of the central powers.

* The war's aftermath, including President Wilson's 14 points, the Treaty of Versailles, collapse of the central powers, creation of the League of Nations and the rise of totalitarianism, which laid the groundwork for World War II.

"Mother of Eagles: The War Diary of Baroness Kunigunde von Richthofen," by Suzanne Hayes Fischer, Schiffer Military Books: Atglen, Penn. $29.95. First published as "My War Diaries" in 1937, this book details the exploits of her sons, Manfred-- the Red Baron-and Lothar.

Letters from both sons describe their love of the hunt in the air. Manfred was known to celebrate each of his kills with a silver goblet engraved with the date of the victory.

"Breaking the Heart of the World: Woodrow Wilson and the Fight for the League of Nations," by John Milton Cooper Jr. Cambridge University Press: New York. $34.95. The league was to become one of the great political debates of the 20th Century. Wilson was a key architect of the league, and he had assured the world that the United States would lead it.

Wilson failed to understand the forcefulness of his opponents, France and England. He struggled throughout 1919 to drum up support in a crusade across America, suffering a debilitating stroke in the effort. The Senate ultimately rejected the league, and without the United States as a member, the league failed to realize its potential. The author is chief historian of a biography of Wilson for the Public Broadcasting Service series, "The American Experience," scheduled to air later in 2002. …

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