The Pity of War: Explaining World War I

The Pity of War: Explaining World War I

4.5 4
by Niall Ferguson
     
 

ISBN-10: 0465057128

ISBN-13: 9780465057122

Pub. Date: 03/28/2000

Publisher: Basic Books


In The Pity of War, Niall Ferguson makes a simple and provocative argument: that the human atrocity known as the Great War was entirely England’s fault. Britain, according to Ferguson, entered into war based on naïve assumptions of German aims—and England’s entry into the war transformed a Continental conflict into a world war,…  See more details below

Overview


In The Pity of War, Niall Ferguson makes a simple and provocative argument: that the human atrocity known as the Great War was entirely England’s fault. Britain, according to Ferguson, entered into war based on naïve assumptions of German aims—and England’s entry into the war transformed a Continental conflict into a world war, which they then badly mishandled, necessitating American involvement. The war was not inevitable, Ferguson argues, but rather the result of the mistaken decisions of individuals who would later claim to have been in the grip of huge impersonal forces.That the war was wicked, horrific, inhuman,is memorialized in part by the poetry of men like Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, but also by cold statistics. More British soldiers were killed in the first day of the Battle of the Somme than Americans in the Vietnam War; indeed, the total British fatalities in that single battle—some 420,000—exceeds the entire American fatalities for both World Wars. And yet, as Ferguson writes, while the war itself was a disastrous folly, the great majority of men who fought it did so with enthusiasm. Ferguson vividly brings back to life this terrifying period, not through dry citation of chronological chapter and verse but through a series of brilliant chapters focusing on key ways in which we now view the First World War.For anyone wanting to understand why wars are fought, why men are willing to fight them, and why the world is as it is today, there is no sharper nor more stimulating guide than Niall Ferguson’s The Pity of War.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780465057122
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
03/28/2000
Pages:
608
Sales rank:
153,310
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.30(d)
Lexile:
1520L (what's this?)

Table of Contents

Figures
Tables
Illustrations
Acknowledgements
Note on the illustrations
Introduction
1The Myths of Militarism1
2Empires, Ententes and Edwardian Appeasement31
3Britain's War of Illusions56
4Arms and Men82
5Public Finance and National Security105
6The Last Days of Mankind: 28 June-4 August 1914143
7The August Days: The Myth of War Enthusiasm174
8The Press Gang212
9Economic Capability: The Advantage Squandered248
10Strategy, Tactics and the Net Body Count282
11'Maximum Slaughter at Minimum Expense': War Finance318
12The Death Instinct: Why Men Fought339
13The Captor's Dilemma367
14How (not) to Pay for the War395
Conclusion: Alternatives to Armageddon433
Notes463
Bibliography517
Index542

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The Pity of War: Explaining World War I 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While you might not agree with all of the author's arguments, his coverage is so authoritative and complete that anyone interested in The Great War should read this book. And although the prose sometimes bogs down with details and charts (esp. when relating economic details), I think that this is necessary in a book of this type. And slogging through the rough parts is well-worth it. The book is informative, well-written, and scholarly. The bibliography itself is worth the price of the book. Required reading for anyone interested in World War I, the causes of the same, the behavior of men in battle, and the economic ramifications of large, protracted conflicts.
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