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Most Helpful Favorable Review
13 out of 15 people found this review helpful.
A Powerful History Lesson
posted by ReadersEntertainment on May 4, 2011Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Most Helpful Critical Review
6 out of 21 people found this review helpful.
Another Rewriting of History
posted by jrg49 on February 14, 2012Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 14, 2012
Another Rewriting of History
While To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918 is well written and follows historical facts, it is a perfect example of the way leftist idealists try to put their stamp on history by rewriting it. The book follows the life of a dozen or so British socialist, leftists, and communists from the 1890s thru the end of World War I. They decry the lost of freedoms in the wartime economy as well as the loss of life in the war. They draw their conclusion at the end by say peace at any cost is better than standing up for one’s national beliefs. They concluded that it would have been better if Great Britain had not entered the war and let Germany take over all of Europe than suffer the massive losses of the war, the Russian Revolution, and consequently World War II.
6 out of 21 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 24, 2012
This is an exasperating book, good on the personalities of those
This is an exasperating book, good on the personalities of those whom Adam Hochschild picks to represent the two sides of the divide – the pro-war activists and the opponents of the First World War – but it is superficial, impressionistic and anecdotal, more gossip than history.
Hochschild has found some good material. For example, he cites an army officer who wrote, “A good big war just now might do a lot of good in killing Socialist nonsense and would probably put a stop to all this labour unrest.”
Then as now the media assumed the morality of the state’s wars. Hochschild calls the British government’s publicity campaign, ‘The greatest political propaganda barrage history had seen’. John Buchan, one of its key writers, wrote, “So far as Britain is concerned, the war could not have been fought for one month without its newspapers.” The British state used its well-practised tactics of censorship: the government did not ban, where it could discourage, and it did not discourage, where it was safe or politic to ignore.
Of the government poster, ‘Daddy, what did YOU do in the Great War?’, Bob Smillie, a leading Scottish miner, said his reply would be, “I tried to stop the bloody thing, my child.”
Hochschild cites Rudyard Kipling’s lines expressing a soldier’s thought -
“If any question why we died,
Tell them, because our fathers lied.”
However, this is not enigmatic, as Hochschild calls it, but clear and true.
But the government did not just put out lies. It created organisations to back the state: Sir Alfred Milner founded the pro-war British Workers’ League, precursor of the Union of Democratic Mineworkers and many others.
So Hochschild does tell some good stories, but he writes far more about General Haig, Milner, Kipling and Buchan than he does about those who opposed the war: there are two index entries to General Sir John French, commander of the British army in Flanders, for every one to his anti-war sister Charlotte Despard, and two to Milner for every one to Bertrand Russell.
More important, Hochschild never has a good word to say about those whose opposition to the war actually ended it. Milner had said in March 1918, “our real danger now is not the Boches but Bolshevism.” All the warring states turned to attack this new main enemy - and now Hochschild does so too.
He slanders Lenin as writing only ‘acerbic articles and pamphlets attacking rivals on the left and predicting the imminent demise of capitalism’, ignoring his many articles opposing the war. Hochschild damns those present at the 1916 anti-war Kiental meeting, including Lenin, as ‘mostly sectarian ideologues’. This conference called for an immediate peace and called on all socialist deputies never to vote for war credits (unlike the Second International which had voted for war credits in 1914).
Hochschild writes that Emily Hobhouse “was the sole person from any of the warring countries who actually journeyed to the other side in search of peace”, forgetting that he actually wrote about the Bolsheviks who travelled into German-occupied territory in December 1917 and negotiated an armistice.
So, this is a divided book about a divided nation. Hochschild’s liberalism allows him to praise those who opposed the war as pacifists, but this same worldview stops him praising those who by making war on the war ended it.
5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 15, 2014
Posted May 4, 2011
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