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Outstanding account of the Great War from an English point of view. Hochschild covers most of the military action of the war, but the further the action gets from the Western Front, the more summarized it becomes. What he's really after are the personalities: the generals John French and Douglas Haig; antiwar activists like French's sister Charlotte Despard, Sylvia Pankhurst, and Bertrand Russell; government officials like Alfred Milner and Keir Hardie. It's a grim, bloody story, and Hochschild thinks it wasn't worth it. What was gained, he wonders, to compensate for opening the door to the horrors of total war, mechanized slaughter, and genocide? Arthur Morey narrates the details in a matter-of-fact way, but his voice gathers a hard edge as he recounts events like the execution of men who were emotionally shattered by the constant bombardment, or the ghastly experience of watching new shells further shredding the remains of buried comrades. When he gets to the epilogue, the march of numbers (one million, ten million, fifty million) becomes almost unbearable.
15 of 15 people found this review helpful
Anyone who feels the tale of war can be told by totaling up troop and equipment will be disapointed with this full juicy and robust telling of WW1.
The reasons and ego's behind the decisions that killed millions of sons and daughters is brought to the fore and fills in preconceptions regarding the period and attitudes of the goverments and popular figures. In some ways more importantly, the family bickering of "kings and queens" that brought a generation of bright and energetic young men to it's knees is what I found most repulsive.
A cautionary tale of the highest order and should be taught in classrooms or given to your kids. It is open ended and I think honest. Every chapter made me want to purse a side issue that was brought up, but not really expanded upon which is a gift in itself.
Well done Adam and I hope you write again soon.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful