Monday, August 4, 2014

The Great War: 100 years later

1917 headline. Source: Chicago Tribune.

They called it The Great War. One hundred years ago, World War I ravaged the world, pitting Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire against Great Britain, the United States, France, Russia, Italy, and Japan. Over 37 million people died.  This anniversary is not one of celebration, but of remembrance. Do you know anyone who fought in the war? Anyone who died in it? What do you think when you hear "World War I"? What meanings do these words hold for you?  If you want to know more about the war, or read some fiction inspired by it, see the list of books below.

Paul Baumer enlisted with his classmates in the German army of World War I. Youthful, enthusiastic, they become soldiers. But despite what they have learned, they break into pieces under the first bombardment in the trenches. And as horrible war plods on year after year, Paul holds fast to a single vow: to fight against the principles of hate that meaninglessly pits young men of the same generation but different uniforms against each other--if only he can come out of the war alive. -- From publisher's description. 

This book traces the path to war, making clear why Germany and Austria-Hungary were primarily to blame, and describes the gripping first clashes in the West. The book includes frank assessments of generals and political leaders and masterly analyses of the political currents that led the continent to war. -- From publisher's description.

In a narrative account that runs from the beginning of a series of international crises in 1904 until the outbreak of the war, this book examines changes in the balance of military power to explain why the war began in 1914, instead of at some other time. Russia was incapable of waging a European war in the aftermath of its defeat at the hands of Japan in 1904-5, but in 1912, when Russia appeared to be regaining its capacity to fight, an unprecedented land-armaments race began. Consequently, when the July crisis of 1914 developed, the atmosphere of military competition made war a far more likely outcome than it would have been a decade earlier. -- From publisher's description. 

Deluge: British Society and the First World War.
Almost continuously in print for 40 years, The Deluge is widely recognized as one of the classics of post-1960 British historical writing, and as the book which initiated the systematic study of the social consequences of modern war. Arthur Marwick describes life on the home front during the first total war in history, analyzing the social changes that made Britain of the 1920s a vastly different place from the Britain that went to war in 1914. Comprehensive, precisely documented, full of colorful detail and apt quotations, The Deluge portrays a society in transition at every level. --From publisher's description.(Thanks to Professor Bryson.Clevenger for recommending this title!).

The best American novel to emerge from World War I, "A Farewell to Arms" is the unforgettable story of an American ambulance driver on the Italian front and his passion for a beautiful English nurse. Hemingway's frank portrayal of the love between Lieutenant Henry and Catherine Barkley, caught in the inexorable sweep of war, glows with an intensity unrivaled in modern literature, while his description of the German attack on Caporetto -- of lines of tired men marching in the rain, hungry, weary, and demoralized -- is one of the greatest moments in literary history. A story of love and pain, of loyalty and desertion, "A Farewell to Arms",  written when he was thirty years old, represents a new romanticism for Hemingway. -- From publisher's description.

How did Russia and France agree in 1894 that in the event of even partial mobilization by the Triple Alliance they would immediately take hostile action against it? The answer to this question is a masterful analysis of what was going wrong in Europe at the end of the nineteenth century and of what faults of vision had caused those wrongs. -- From publisher's description. 

By the time the First World War ended in 1918, eight million people had died in what had been perhaps the most apocalyptic episode the world had known.This Very Short Introduction provides a concise and insightful history of the Great War--from the state of Europe in 1914, to the role of the US, the collapse of Russia, and the eventual surrender of the Central Powers. Examining how and why the war was fought, as well as the historical controversies that still surround the war, Michael Howard also looks at how peace was ultimately made, and describes the potent legacy of resentment left to Germany.-- From publisher's description.

When Julio finally decided to fight, the world and his family knew him for a different man. In the end the man who was once a spoiled son of privilege became a man of honor and integrity, a noble soldier in the war to end all wars. -- From publisher's description. 

Set off the treacherous Outer Banks of North Carolina during the final days of the First World War, Hatteras  Light is the compelling story of the dedicated keepers of the Hatteras lighthouse and their tightly knit community. For generations these men have drawn their livelihood from the sea, served in the rescue of shipwreck victims, and guarded seagoers from the hazardous shoals. Their wives and daughters endure a difficult, solitary life, their fortitude constantly tested. Loyal to one another and to a traditional way of life, the islanders are suspicious of outsiders and censorious of those who leave. The insular world of these Hatterasmen disrupts when a German U-boat reveals itself offshore, indiscriminately sinking civilian and military vessels, challenging the courage of the lifesavers, and signaling the dawning of a darker, less honorable age. -- From publisher's description. 

When a Serbian-backed assassin gunned down Archduke Franz Ferdinand in late June 1914, the world seemed unmoved. Certainly, there was nothing to suggest that the episode would lead to conflict -- much less a world war of such massive and horrific proportions that it would fundamentally reshape the course of human events. As acclaimed historian Sean McMeekin reveals in "July 1914", World War I might have been avoided entirely had it not been for a small group of statesmen who, in the month after the assassination, plotted to use Ferdinand's murder as the trigger for a long-awaited showdown in Europe. -- From publisher's description. 

 It is the cusp of World War I, and all the European powers are arming up. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their Clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ fabricated animals as their weaponry. Their Leviathan is a whale airship, and the most masterful beast in the British fleet. Aleksandar Ferdinand, prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. Deryn Sharp is a commoner, a girl disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She's a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered. With the Great War brewing, Alek's and Deryn's paths cross in the most unexpected way... taking them both aboard the Leviathan on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure. One that will change both their lives forever. -- From publisher's description.

In the summer of 1914, forty of the greatest men of Europe, representing the interests of millions of people in seven different countries, were unable to prevent an anarchist's bullet from plunging the world into what would become known at the Great War. They were the leaders of the continent, and they all wanted peace. The result of their efforts, however, unleashed the most horrific war in history. -- From publisher's description.

In analyzing the causes of World War I without concern for the question of guilt, the author places emphasis on two central facts: first, that when statesmen and peoples took actions they knew might lead to war, they were not envisaging the catastrophe that the war became but rather a quick and limited war; and, second, that among the many conflicts that might have led to war, the one that did was the threat to the integrity of Austria-Hungary posed by Serbia and Serb nationalism. -- From publisher's description. 

One of the most violent conflicts in the history of civilization, World War I has been strangely forgotten in American culture. It has become a ghostly war fought in a haze of memory, often seen merely as a distant preamble to World War II. In "The Long Shadow" critically acclaimed historian David Reynolds seeks to broaden our vision by assessing the impact of the Great War across the twentieth century. He shows how events in that turbulent century -- particularly World War II, the Cold War, and the collapse of Communism -- shaped and reshaped attitudes to 1914-18. Forging connections between people, places, and ideas, "The Long Shadow" ventures across the traditional subcultures of historical scholarship to offer a rich and layered examination not only of politics, diplomacy, and security but also of economics, art, and literature. The result is a magisterial interpretation of the place of the Great War in modern history. -- From publisher's description.

This book analyzes the strategies of female physicians, nurses, and women-at-arms who linked military service with the opportunity to achieve professional and civic goals. Since women armed to defend the state during war could also protect themselves, Kimberly Jensen argues, Americans began to focus on women's relationship to violence--both its wielding against women and women's uses of it. Intense discussions of rape, methods of protecting women, and proper gender roles abound as Jensen draws from rich case studies to show how female thinkers and activists wove wartime choices into long-standing debates about woman suffrage, violence against women, gender-based discrimination, and economic parity. The war created new urgency in these debates, and Jensen forcefully presents the case of women participants and activists: women's involvement in the obligation of citizens to defend the state validated their right of full female citizenship. -- From publisher's description.

Providing a new interpretation of the origins of the First World War, this textbook synthesizes recent scholarship and introduces the major historiographical and political debates surrounding the outbreak of the war. William Mulligan argues that the war was a far from inevitable outcome of international politics in the early twentieth century and suggests instead that there were powerful forces operating in favor of the maintenance of peace. His fresh perspective on the pre-war international system takes account of new approaches to the study of international politics since the end of the Cold War and the acceleration of globalization. Thematic chapters examine key issues, including the military, public opinion, economics, diplomacy and geopolitics, and analyse relations between the great powers, the role of smaller states, the disintegrating empires and the July crisis. This account revises our understanding of diplomacy, political culture, and economic history from 1870 to 1914. -- From publisher's description.

Over Here uses the record of America's experience in the Great War as a prism through which to view early-twentieth-century American society. The ways in which America mobilized for the war, chose to fight it, and then went about the business of enshrining it in memory all indicate important aspects of an enduring American character. An American history classic, Over here reflects on a society's struggle with the pains of war and offers trenchant insights into the birth of modern America. -- From publisher's description.

Rites of Spring probes the origins, impact, and aftermath of World War I, from the premiere of Stravinsky's ballet The Rite of Spring in 1913 to the death of Hitler in 1945. Recognizing that “The Great War was the psychological turning point . . . for modernism as a whole,” author Modris Eksteins examines the lives of ordinary people, works of modern literature, and pivotal historical events to redefine the way we look at our past and toward our future. -- From publisher's description. 

Rosie's Mom: Forgotten Women Workers of the First World War.
Although the World War II posters of Rosie the Riveter and Wendy the Welder remind us of the women who contributed to the nation's war effort in the 1940s, the women workers of World War I are nearly forgotten. In Rosie's mom, Carrie Brown recovers these women of an earlier generation through lively words and images. She takes us back to the time when American women abandoned their jobs dipping chocolates, sewing corsets, or canning pork and beans, to contribute to the war effort. Trading their ankle-length skirts and crisp white shirtwaists for coarse bloomers or overalls, they went into the munition plants to face explosives, toxic chemicals, powerful metal-cutting machines, and the sullen hostility of the men in the shops. -- From publisher's description.

Savage Peace: Hope and Fear in America, 1919.
Written with the sweep of an epic novel and grounded in extensive research into contemporary documents, Savage Peace is a striking portrait of American democracy under stress. It is the surprising story of America in the year 1919. --From publisher's description.

The century since the end of the Napoleonic wars had been the most peaceful era Europe had known since the fall of the Roman Empire. In the first years of the twentieth century, Europe believed it was marching to a golden, happy, and prosperous future. But instead, complex personalities and rivalries, colonialism and ethnic nationalisms, and shifting alliances helped to bring about the failure of the long peace and the outbreak of a war that transformed Europe and the world. "The War That Ended Peace" brings vividly to life the military leaders, politicians, diplomats, bankers, and the extended, interrelated family of crowned heads across Europe who failed to stop the descent into war. -- From publisher's description. 

Almost 100 years after the Treaty of Versailles was signed, World War I continues to be badly understood and greatly oversimplified. Its enormous impact on the world in terms of international diplomacy and politics, and the ways in which future military engagements would evolve, be fought, and ultimately get resolved have been ignored. This book presents primary and secondary documents, from government papers to personal diaries, which provide an understanding of the conflict. -- From publisher's description.