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Compared with the Second, the First World War receives much less attention in popular history, including here on Audible. Macmillan has done a marvelous job of explaining the personalities and challenges faced at the 1919 peace conference in Paris. She sketches the leaders well and manages to explain the many interlocking issues without excessive detail or repetition. She avoids the conventional wisdom and offers a balanced view. The overall impact is a compelling narrative with humour and quite a few "aha!" moments when the modern outcomes of the peace conference ecome clear. The author might be faulted for an excess of focus on Woodrow Wilson, but the book does not suffer too much for it. An informative picture of moral relativism and Realpolitik emerges, both in the American camp and elsewhere.
18 of 18 people found this review helpful
I have some familiarity with the topic but I am not sure that was necessary to appreciate this well written, thorough narrative of the conference of the Allied powers that was the final act of World War I. The author provides a very good description of the three men, Woodrow Wilson, David Lloyd George and Georges Clemenceau who together drew a new map of the world out of the destruction of WW I.
The author's style reminds me of Barbara Tuchman, who is one of my favorite authors. The book provides a wealth of information in a style that is never dry or boring. This is good narrative history that kept me interested in the story of one of the most important events of the 20th century. The author never got bogged down by the details as she told the final chapter of how the dynasties of Europe were replaced by a group of modern nations.
Ms. McMillan draws a fine picture, warts and all, of how these world changing decisions were made. Wilson is the idealist who gets worn down by the balance of power ideas of Clemenceau and Lloyd George. He finally lets them draw the map as long as the treaty includes the League of Nations. Clemenceau's goal is to grind down Germany and safeguard France. Lloyd George fights for the interests of England in Africa and the Middle East. The scene where the German delegation is presented with a treaty which they must sign or watch their country continue to starve shows how power was wielded by the Big Three.
I enjoyed the book very much and can only list a few high points in my limited space. The narrator is very good and certainly contributed to an overall experience that exceeded my expectations.
31 of 32 people found this review helpful