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He argues that the war profoundly changed the ways in which people imagined the landscape around them and thought about technology and the environment. Before the war, Europe and its colonies generally regarded industrial technology as an instrument of modernity; the landscape existed to be conquered, divided, and ruled. During and after the war, the costs of conquest became much higher, raising significant doubts about the value of progress. Soldiers experienced profound personal degradation, physical injuries, and mental collapse in the midst of nightmarish, technologically induced environmental conditions, which they vividly remembered when they formed new identities in the postwar world. Although people did not abandon thoughts of technological advance, after the war they had a keener sense of modernity's costs. Without neglecting traditional themes, Storey's deft interweaving of the role of environment and technology enriches our understanding of the social, political, and military history of the war, not only in Europe, but throughout the world.
Chapter 1 Introduction Chapter 2 Environment, Technology, and the Origins of War Chapter 3 Optimism, 1914-1916 Chapter 4 Intensification, 1916-1917 Chapter 5 Conclusions: 1918 and Beyond