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In a foreword Chairman George Creel of the Committee, says: "Other handbooks have been and will be made by other agencies; all will serve their end, for this war is not to be won by an established doctrine nor by an official theory, but by an enlightened opinion based on the truth. The facts of history and life are the only arsenal to which Americans need resort in order to defend their cause. The deeper their study, the firmer becomes their conviction. The "War Cyclopedia" represents an effort to arrange in simple form the facts most needed."
Articles on persons have been left out except as the editors have deemed biographical notes to be absolutely indispensable; knowledge of American public men in particular has been assumed.
An indication of the character and the wide range of the information provided may be had from the following citations made at random thru the alphabetical arrangement.
Under the title Alsace-Lorraine something of the history and the character of that province now in world dispute is given, and Professor Otfried Nippold, a German scholar formerly in the diplomatic service, but now of Berne, is quoted as saying: "When one looks back into the history of Europe during the last forty years, it seems inconceivable that anyone can be unwilling to admit that the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine was a political mistake," and that "the Germans have shown themselves incompetent in their government of the people of Alsace-Lorraine."
The term "Boche," now so commonly appearing in American newspaper dispatches as a familiar designation of the Germans, is shown to have originated before the war in Paris. The German assistants of Paris printers were so designated. The term "Boche" was probably also used in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, for Zola, in his novel "La Debacle," put the term in the mouths of French soldiers to designate Germans. The term "ce boche" was used, before the Franco-Prussian War at least, as equivalent to "that chump." "Tete de boche" is the French slang for "wooden paté" or "blockhead."
The "War Cyclopedia" gives a remarkably succinct and comprehensive story of the execution of Edith Cavell.
All of the great war measures in the United States, such as the Espionage Act, the various acts concerning alien enemies, the Selective Draft, the Voluntary Censorship of the Press, etc., and all of the institutions that have been created to carry on the activities of the war, such as the War Trade Board, War Risk Insurance Bureau, Red Cross Service, Council of National Defense, Food Administration etc., are comprehensively explained. There is also a wealth of information of value to students of military affairs concerning the Army and Navy and all their ramifying branches of service.
Added to the alphabetical arrangement of general war facts, there is presented a chronology of the principal events of the war, from June 28, 1914, when the Archduke Francis Ferdinand was murdered at Sarajevo, to December 29, 1917, when the British National Labor Conference approved the continuation of the war for aims similar to those defined by President Wilson.
-NDQ: North Dakota Quarterly, Volume 8