In This Review
The Great War and the Twentieth Century
Yale University Press, 2001, 356 pp.
This remarkable addition to the literature on World War I offers original and provocative analyses of the war's most important aspects. Michael Howard starts the book by restating the orthodox view that the conflict was a necessary war aimed at preventing Germany's domination of the continent. William Fuller, meanwhile, suggests that the Allies provided Russia far too little assistance, and that Russia's 1917 defeat -- which led to the Bolshevik Revolution and later to Hitler's rabid revanchism -- wrought perhaps even worse consequences than a German victory would have. Mary Habeck's essay on the soldiers' reactions to the new realities of technological warfare is superb, while Gerald Feldman shows how Germany's massive regulation and controls -- which took economic mobilization out of the hands of civilians -- hurt its war effort. John Horne's piece on labor movements argues that socialists in Germany and in the West turned to pacifism, not revolution, as the war dragged on. Other outstanding chapters examine the war's impact on colonialism, the diplomacy of the 1920s, America's return to isolationism, and the rise of national myths about the war. An excellent and thought-provoking volume.
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