The Great War for Peace

The Great War for Peace

by William Mulligan
     
 

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“The war to end all wars” rings out a bitter mockery of the First World War, often viewed as the seminal catastrophe of the twentieth century, the crucible from which Soviet, Fascist, and Nazi dictatorships emerged. Today’s conventional wisdom is that the Great War attuned the world to large-scale slaughter, that post-war efforts directed by the

Overview

“The war to end all wars” rings out a bitter mockery of the First World War, often viewed as the seminal catastrophe of the twentieth century, the crucible from which Soviet, Fascist, and Nazi dictatorships emerged. Today’s conventional wisdom is that the Great War attuned the world to large-scale slaughter, that post-war efforts directed by the Treaty at Versailles were botched, that unbridled new nationalisms made the Second World War inevitable.
 
This provocative book refutes such interpretations, arguing instead that the first two decades of the twentieth century—and the First World War in particular—played an essential part in the construction of a peaceful new order on a global scale. Historian William Mulligan takes an entirely fresh look at the aspirations of statesmen, soldiers, intellectuals, and civilians who participated in the war and at the new ideas about peace that were forged. While the hope for ultimate peace may have legitimized and even intensified the violence of the war, it also broadened conventional ideas about international politics and led to the emergence of such institutions as the League of Nations and the International Labour Organization. The experience of the First World War reinforced humanitarian concerns in political life and focused attention on building a better and more peaceful world order, Mulligan shows. Such issues resonate still in the political and diplomatic debates of today.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
05/12/2014
Mulligan (The Origins of the First World War), a faculty member of the Center for War Studies at University College, Dublin, makes a controversial contribution to the study of the Great War, arguing that that the concept of peace belongs at "the centre" of historical views of the war. It is certainly a counter-intuitive position, and he believes that WWI led to peace being "imagined and constructed in new ways that had an enduring legacy in twentieth-century international relations." Despite his credentials, not all readers will be convinced—the distinction between a genuine desire for peace and the use of the ideal as a rhetorical tool is exemplified in Hitler's "resorting to the essential vocabulary of peace in his speeches." And it seems obvious that people believed that peace was viewed as "a repository of demands and expectations for a better future" well before WWI, despite Mulligan's suggestion to the contrary. He suitably rebuts those who portray Europe pre-1914 as placid, linking the Italo-Ottoman War and the 1912 and 1913 Balkan Wars to the carnage that followed. Nevertheless, Mulligan's ultimate conclusion—that in the 100 years since 1914, peace has not only survived but "flourished"—will strike some as a rose-colored perspective. (May)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780300173772
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Publication date:
05/27/2014
Pages:
456
Sales rank:
957,090
Product dimensions:
9.30(w) x 6.50(h) x 1.80(d)

Meet the Author

William Mulligan is lecturer in modern history, University College Dublin. He lives in Dublin, Ireland.

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