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A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, 1914 to 1918

A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, 1914 to 1918 - G.J. Meyer in contrast to LSE Professor David Stevenson's economics/statistics approach, historian G.J. Meyer (M.A., English, Univ. Minnesota) gives a personality-centred story. in other words, 'this ruler ordered this,' but 'that general favoured that.' to some degree, modern historical science is moving away from that approach to examine apersonal forces and broad statistical facts, but until the individual is completely erased from story, the journalist/historian still writes a damn good book. in fact, you might complain the narrative is too unified, too hypnotic. fate is not ignored either, with Archduke Franz Ferdinand's motorcade proceeding down the pre-arranged route despite being targeted by grenade-throwing Serbian nationalists. the German ambassador and Russian foreign minister weep, knowing what is to come. German strategy plays out as it must, despite armchair generals in later decades pointing out what could have been done.

WWI will never lose its power over western civilization in the sheer number of casualties involved. I had the opportunity to speak with some Chinese nationalists amidst rising China this past year, and they point out that in the 19th century, they too had a multi-million casualty war-- but it was a civil war, so it tends not to be studied or known outside the country. apparently in the late 19th century, some messianic religious leader some Hong Qi or something like that declared himself Jesus Christ and said he was going to establish a Heavenly Kingdom in place of the dying Qing Dynasty. he attracted hundreds of millions of followers and nearly succeeded, eventually falling to the superior arms-production of the Qing Dynasty (now considered by history to be supremely unarmed, but by comparison to a grassroots movement, still in possession of muskets), and millions upon millions died. BUT, in the final analysis, international / inter-state war is far more indelible in human memory, and it causes people to retain a reputation far more than the mix-up of civil warfare, where two brothers in the same family might belong to different sides.

in a year's time will come the 100-year anniversary of the Great War, and of course, mankind still has not eliminated warfare from its midst