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07 February 2013

Mark Black: World War One: A Very Brief History

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I am getting addicted to short histories and these brief Readers' Digest style reminders are helping me to expand and keep my memories in order. This time the reminder is about World War One, and the background to this terrible conflict has always been far too complex for me to remember and understand.

Mark Black has again done a good job in outlining the major factors but it is probably a bit too brief for such a large historical event. I am still bemused, especially as most of the nation states no longer exist. We might think that our international politics are complex but relationships and treaties between States, Emperors, the Tsar etc were even more complex than now. It is hard to imagine the long-term enmity between nations that were vying with one another for power and empires, and the tremendous patriotism that lured a generation to their deaths.

As an Aussie I thought that a little more could have been said about the debacle of the Gallipoli campaign and Churchill's part in this tragedy. Also the importance of the entry of the Americans and the new found power of tanks was probably a bit understated. I also can't recall any mention that the Versailles Treaty was not ratified by the US Congress.

The "War to end all Wars" never achieved lasting peace - all it did was set the scene for an even more extensive world conflict in just over 20 years.

I will probably take a break for a while - but I will return later for another dose of history.

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