The Pity of War

  • by Niall Ferguson
  • Narrated by Graeme Malcolm
  • 21 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In The Pity of War, Niall Ferguson makes a simple and provocative argument: that the human atrocity known as the Great War was entirely England's fault. Britain, according to Ferguson, entered into war based on nave assumptions of German aims-and England's entry into the war transformed a Continental conflict into a world war, which they then badly mishandled, necessitating American involvement. The war was not inevitable, Ferguson argues, but rather the result of the mistaken decisions of individuals who would later claim to have been in the grip of huge impersonal forces. That the war was wicked, horrific, inhuman, is memorialized in part by the poetry of men like Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, but also by cold statistics.
More British soldiers were killed in the first day of the Battle of the Somme than Americans in the Vietnam War; indeed, the total British fatalities in that single battle-some 420,000-exceeds the entire American fatalities for both World Wars. And yet, as Ferguson writes, while the war itself was a disastrous folly, the great majority of men who fought it did so with enthusiasm. Ferguson vividly brings back to life this terrifying period, not through dry citation of chronological chapter and verse but through a series of brilliant chapters focusing on key ways in which we now view the First World War.
For anyone wanting to understand why wars are fought, why men are willing to fight them, and why the world is as it is today, there is no sharper nor more stimulating guide than Niall Ferguson's The Pity of War.

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What the Critics Say

"This is analytical history at its mordant best. With all its other merits, The Pity of War is also a work of grace and feeling." (The Economist)
"[Niall Ferguson is] the most talked-about British historian of his generation." (The New York Times)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Excellent study

If you are into the First World War, or just interested in the causes of war then this book is a must. It is also an excellent study of the 20 Century. History does tend to repeat itself, and to hear what is reported to be a truth of the war, open my eyes to the lesser noble aspects that I grew up thinking the war was. We all hear about the atrocities of the Second World War, but perhaps on a lesser level the First World War had its share, committed by all sides. Britain comes out of this looking rather shabby, Germany, the cause of its own nightmare with the Nazis and even the USA is shown to be foolish. A great read.
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- Michael "Classics, history, historical fiction, marketing, Napoleonic stuff and of course 'Boys own Adventure'. This is my bent. Occasional self help as well."

Too Detailed

I am a huge fan of Niall Ferguson, but this is too much. Admittedly, I was looking for a history of World War I, not book on the economic questions related to WWI, but this is too weighed down with statistics for audio.
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- Kyle

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-18-2010
  • Publisher: Audible Studios