Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World

Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World

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Overview

Between January and July 1919, after "the war to end all wars," men and women from around the world converged on Paris to shape the peace. Center stage, for the first time in history, was an American president, Woodrow Wilson, who with his Fourteen Points seemed to promise to so many people the fulfillment of their dreams. Stern, intransigent, impatient when it came to security concerns and wildly idealistic in his dream of a League of Nations that would resolve all future conflict peacefully, Wilson is only one of the larger-than-life characters who fill the pages of this extraordinary book. David Lloyd George, the gregarious and wily British prime minister, brought Winston Churchill and John Maynard Keynes. Lawrence of Arabia joined the Arab delegation. Ho Chi Minh, a kitchen assistant at the Ritz, submitted a petition for an independent Vietnam.

For six months, Paris was effectively the center of the world as the peacemakers carved up bankrupt empires and created new countries. This book brings to life the personalities, ideals, and prejudices of the men who shaped the settlement. They pushed Russia to the sidelines, alienated China, and dismissed the Arabs. They struggled with the problems of Kosovo, of the Kurds, and of a homeland for the Jews.

The peacemakers, so it has been said, failed dismally; above all they failed to prevent another war. Margaret MacMillan argues that they have unfairly been made the scapegoats for the mistakes of those who came later. She refutes received ideas about the path from Versailles to World War II and debunks the widely accepted notion that reparations imposed on the Germans were in large part responsible for the Second WorldWar.

A landmark work of narrative history, Paris 1919 is the first full-scale treatment of the Peace Conference in more than twenty-five years. It offers a scintillating view of those dramatic and fateful days when much of the modern world was sketched out, when countries were created--Iraq, Yugoslavia, Israel--whose troubles haunt us still.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375760525
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/09/2003
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 624
Sales rank: 89,231
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.18(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Margaret MacMillan received her PhD from Oxford University and is now a professor of international history at Oxford, where she is also the warden of St. Antony’s College. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature; a senior fellow of Massey College, University of Toronto; and an honorary fellow of Trinity College, University of Toronto, and of St. Hilda’s College, Oxford University. Her published works include The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914, a New York Times Notable Book; Dangerous Games: The Uses and Abuses of History; Nixon and Mao: The Week That Changed the World; Women of the Raj: The Mothers, Wives, and Daughters of the British Empire in India; and Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World, which won the Samuel Johnson Prize, the PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize, and the Duff Cooper Prize and was a New York Times Editors’ Choice.


 

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Woodrow Wilson Comes to Europe

On december 4, 1918, the George Washington sailed out of New York with the American delegation to the Peace Conference on board. Guns fired salutes, crowds along the waterfront cheered, tugboats hooted and Army planes and dirigibles circled overhead. Robert Lansing, the American secretary of state, released carrier pigeons with messages to his relatives about his deep hope for a lasting peace. The ship, a former German passenger liner, slid out past the Statue of Liberty to the Atlantic, where an escort of destroyers and battleships stood by to accompany it and its cargo of heavy expectations to Europe.

On board were the best available experts, combed out of the universities and the government; crates of reference materials and special studies; the French and Italian ambassadors to the United States; and Woodrow Wilson. No other American president had ever gone to Europe while in office. His opponents accused him of breaking the Constitution; even his supporters felt he might be unwise. Would he lose his great moral authority by getting down to the hurly-burly of negotiations? Wilson's own view was clear: the making of the peace was as important as the winning of the war. He owed it to the peoples of Europe, who were crying out for a better world. He owed it to the American servicemen. "It is now my duty," he told a pensive Congress just before he left, "to play my full part in making good what they gave their life's blood to obtain." A British diplomat was more cynical; Wilson, he said, was drawn to Paris "as a debutante is entranced by the prospect of her first ball."

Wilson expected, he wrote to his great friend Edward House, who was already in Europe, that he would stay only to arrange the main outlines of the peace settlements. It was not likely that he would remain for the formal Peace Conference with the enemy. He was wrong. The preliminary conference turned, without anyone's intending it, into the final one, and Wilson stayed for most of the crucial six months between January and June 1919. The question of whether or not he should have gone to Paris, which exercised so many of his contemporaries, now seems unimportant. From Franklin Roosevelt at Yalta to Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton at Camp David, American presidents have sat down to draw borders and hammer out peace agreements. Wilson had set the conditions for the armistices which ended the Great War. Why should he not make the peace as well?

Although he had not started out in 1912 as a foreign policy president, circumstances and his own progressive political principles had drawn him outward. Like many of his compatriots, he had come to see the Great War as a struggle between the forces of democracy, however imperfectly represented by Britain and France, and those of reaction and militarism, represented all too well by Germany and Austria-Hungary. Germany's sack of Belgium, its unrestricted submarine warfare and its audacity in attempting to entice Mexico into waging war on the United States had pushed Wilson and American public opinion toward the Allies. When Russia had a democratic revolution in February 1917, one of the last reservations that the Allies included an autocracy vanished. Although he had campaigned in 1916 on a platform of keeping the country neutral, Wilson brought the United States into the war in April 1917. He was convinced that he was doing the right thing. This was important to the son of a Presbyterian minister, who shared his father's deep religious conviction, if not his calling.

Wilson was born in Virginia in 1856, just before the Civil War. Although he remained a Southerner in some ways all his life‹in his insistence on honor and his paternalistic attitudes toward women and blacks he also accepted the war's outcome. Abraham Lincoln was one of his great heroes, along with Edmund Burke and William Gladstone. The young Wilson was at once highly idealistic and intensely ambitious. After four very happy years at Princeton and an unhappy stint as a lawyer, he found his first career in teaching and writing. By 1890 he was back at Princeton, a star member of the faculty. In 1902 he became its president, supported virtually unanimously by the trustees, faculty and students.

In the next eight years Wilson transformed Princeton from a sleepy college for gentlemen into a great university. He reworked the curriculum, raised significant amounts of money and brought into the faculty the brightest and the best young men from across the country. By 1910, he was a national figure and the Democratic party in New Jersey, under the control of conservative bosses, invited him to run for governor. Wilson agreed, but insisted on running on a progressive platform of controlling big business and extending democracy. He swept the state and by 1911 "Wilson for President" clubs were springing up. He spoke for the dispossessed, the disenfranchised and all those who had been left behind by the rapid economic growth of the late nineteenth century. In 1912, at a long and hard-fought convention, Wilson got the Democratic nomination for president. That November, with the Republicans split by Teddy Roosevelt's decision to run as a progressive against William Howard Taft, Wilson was elected. In 1916, he was reelected, with an even greater share of the popular vote.

Wilson's career was a series of triumphs, but there were darker moments, both personal and political, fits of depression and sudden and baffling illnesses. Moreover, he had left behind him a trail of enemies, many of them former friends. "An ingrate and a liar," said a Democratic boss in New Jersey in a toast. Wilson never forgave those who disagreed with him. "He is a good hater," said his press officer and devoted admirer Ray Stannard Baker. He was also stubborn. As House said, with admiration: "Whenever a question is presented he keeps an absolutely open mind and welcomes all suggestion or advice which will lead to a correct decision. But he is receptive only during the period that he is weighing the question and preparing to make his decision. Once the decision is made it is final and there is an absolute end to all advice and suggestion. There is no moving him after that." What was admirable to some was a dangerous egotism to others. The French ambassador in Washington saw "a man who, had he lived a couple of centuries ago, would have been the greatest tyrant in the world, because he does not seem to have the slightest conception that he can ever be wrong."

This side of Wilson's character was in evidence when he chose his fellow commissioners‹or plenipotentiaries, as the chief delegates were known‹to the Peace Conference. He was himself one. House, "my alter ego," as he was fond of saying, was another. Reluctantly he selected Lansing, his secretary of state, as a third, mainly because it would have been awkward to leave him behind. Where Wilson had once rather admired Lansing's vast store of knowledge, his meticulous legal mind and his apparent readiness to take a back seat, by 1919 that early liking had turned to irritation and contempt. Lansing, it turned out, did have views, often strong ones which contradicted the president's. "He has," Wilson complained to House, who noted it down with delight, "no imagination, no constructive ability, and but little real ability of any kind." The fourth plenipotentiary, General Tasker Bliss, was already in France as the American military representative on the Supreme War Council. A thoughtful and intelligent man who loved to lie in bed with a hip flask reading Thucydides in the original Greek, he was also, many of the junior members of the American delegation believed, well past his prime. Since Wilson was to speak to him on only five occasions during the Peace Conference, perhaps that did not matter.

The president's final selection, Henry White, was a charming, affable retired diplomat, the high point of whose career had been well before the war. Mrs. Wilson was to find him useful in Paris on questions of etiquette.

Reading Group Guide

1. In 1919, Europe had just been through a devastating war, which left political, social, and economic turmoil in its wake. The war also had a considerable impact on the Middle East and parts of Asia and Africa. What were the main issues and concerns facing the peacemakers in 1919?

2. Some historians–Arno Mayer, for example–have argued that the peacemakers of 1919 were determined to prevent the spread of revolution westward from Russia. To what extent did fear of Bolshevism shape the decisions made in Paris?

3. It has often been said that there was a gulf between Woodrow Wilson and his new diplomacy, on one side, and the Europeans and their old diplomacy on the other. Discuss what is meant by the new and the old diplomacy. Was there in fact such a gulf?

4. What did Woodrow Wilson mean by “national self-determination”? Why did some of his colleagues, such as Robert Lansing, worry about it? What impact did the notion of self-determination have? Was it easy to put into effect?

5. Each country in Paris had its own concerns and aims. Evaluate the main interests that each of the major powers–France, Great, Britain, Italy, Japan, and the United States–brought to the table.

6. The peace settlements, in particular the resolution with Germany, have often been blamed for the outbreak of World War II. Was the Treaty of Versailles as punitive, unfair, and vindictive as has often been said?

7. Discuss the ways in which decisions made in Paris affected China and Japan. Did the relationship between the two countries grow better or worse as a result?

8. The Paris Peace Conference was the first major international peace conference where the press was present in force. In addition, the leaders of the powers had to pay attention to the views and wishes of their electorates. How important was public opinion in the making of the peace settlements after World War I?

9. A number of countries had designs on the territory of the Ottoman empire after World War I, and the Ottoman empire itself was in no position to fight back. Nevertheless, why did the Treaty of Sèvres remain a dead letter? In what ways was the later Treaty of Lausanne different?

10. During the war, the Allies–the British and the French in particular–made a number of agreements and promises about the Arab parts of the Ottoman empire. To what extent have those agreements and the decisions made by the peacemakers about the Middle East had an impact on developments there since?

11. Although Woodrow Wilson is often seen as the person responsible for the League of Nations, many people, both in Europe and North America, shared his goals. What was the League supposed to accomplish? Why is it often described as a great experiment?

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Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 56 reviews.
CymLowell More than 1 year ago
Why is our world in such a mess today? Why do we have constant political problems in Israel-Palestine, in the Balkans, in Iraq and the Middle East, between the U.S. and France, and so on? Are these issues a result of events happening today or yesterday? All of these issues, and many others, are in one way or another tied to the resolution of World War I, which was, historians tell us, triggered by the assassination of an Austrian prince in Sarajevo. The Germans and the Austria-Hungarians then commenced a war that was largely fought in the trenched fields of France and Belgium. Millions died on all sides, including the Russian front. When the war was over, due to surrender by the Germans before the war crossed the Rhine, the Paris Peace Conference was convened to settle the political fallout. New countries were created, old borders re-drawn, entreaties granted or denied, and the personalities and relationship of Woodrow Wilson, Clemenceau, and Lloyd George created a new world order. The war to end all wars, of course, was a failure in many ways, not the least of which the breakout of another war with a generation. Many of the whys and wherefores of the Twentieth Century emanate from the Paris Peace Conference. We see the fallout everyday in the press. Paris: 1919 is a historical masterpiece. In many places it reads like a history book, complete with the author's feelings about the nature of conversations that did or could have taken place. On the other hand, it is an easy read in terms of focusing on the history of places or events that are of interest to you. In my case, I have always been fascinated by Turkey, Israel-Palestine, the Crusades, the Byzantine Empire, Roman and Greek conquest and administration of the area, and so on. These subjects are addressed in the final 150 or so pages. I read each word, riveted by the role that one of my favorite historical characters (T.E. Lawrence, the ubiquitous Lawrence of Arabia) played in the peace process. I found Paris: 1919 to be amazingly thought-provoking. Would the world be a better place today if Woodrow Wilson had had a different personality, or if the U.S. had taken the Palestinian Mandate? Could Barack Obama, Gordon Brown, and Nicholas Sarkozy to a better job if we had a Paris: 2010 Peace Conference? If you wonder about the politics of today, spend a few hours in the politics of 1919-1920 and let your own thoughts soar.
AngelicBlonde More than 1 year ago
This book is about the Paris 1919 Peace Conference following the end of World War I. It is nicely organized and focuses on all aspects of the negotiations. The book is fairly long, due to the high amount of detail that was included. The research the author did was amazing and she included a great deal of information in her book. This is good and bad because I found the book to be tedious to read after awhile. About halfway through I got bored of the book. This is by no means light reading so I only recommend it to people who are genuinely interested in this topic. Otherwise you will probably be a little bored and find this book somewhat difficult to wade through.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Margaret MacMillan won numerous prizes and recognition for her book and with good reason. Her book takes an historical subject, i.e. the Treaty of Versailles, and breaths life and vitality into the intriguing characters at Versailles and beyond. Unlike so many accounts of the much-maligned Versailles Treaty, MacMillan gives the treaty creation process a thorough and honest appraisal. Like all human endeavors, the treaty was a product of its creators, principally Wilson, Lloyd George, and Clemenceau, and all the contemporary pressures they faced. The second-guessing and 20/20 hindsight of many modern day authors really fails to appreciate the conditions of upheaval, unprecedented change, and lack of enforcement power on the ground which the peacemakers faced. The book begins with an enlightening, chapter-length personality and character review for each of the three peacemakers. From this segment the reader can grasp the varying perspectives of each leader and his goals for the peace. Wilson wants his League of Nations, Lloyd George sets out to expand the British Empire, and Clemenceau is determined to emasculate Germany's military threat to France. The following part then looks at the popular mandate given to the peacemakers from people all over the world for 'a just and fair peace for all', the question of Bolshevik Russia, the League of Nations, and the concept of League mandates. The remainder of the book is organized by regions with a chapter each covering the more significant nations discussed in the treaty (Yugoslavia, Rumania, Bulgaria, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, Italy, Japan, China, Greece, Iraq, Syria, Israel, and Turkey). And, of course, there is a detailed investigation of the treaty with Germany, which covers territories to be ceded, reparations, war guilt, arms limitations, etc. MacMillan's focus on the individual personalities and their constituent political pressures reveals how and why the treaty's provisions originated. And she does a wonderful job of demonstrating how the enlightened ideals of 'Professor' Wilson quickly clashed with the European world of real-politik, secret wartime treaties, and countless practical considerations. While many new eastern European nations were founded on the principle of self-determination, these new nation-states exhibited a profound capacity to be more aggressive and rapacious than the defunct empires they replaced. Indeed, while the Big Three haggled over borders in far away lands, their decisions were often simply ignored by troops on the ground. (Diplomatic power ultimately rests on military muscle.) In addition, there was still much old-fashioned imperial, land-grabbing camouflaged as League mandates by the victorious European combatants, especially in the increasingly important Near and Middle East. Finally, despite the idealism expressed in Wilson's famous 14 Points, there was certainly no doubt that Germany was really being punished. Despite all its shortcomings, the Versailles Treaty did help millions of people finally realize their nationalist dreams out of the ruins of the defeated empires. Most of these nations still exist, although some countries have further sub-divided into multiple states (e.g. Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia) while the for other peoples unified national existence still remains but a fantasy (Kurds, Armenians). And Germany, though punished, was treated much better than every one of the countries it defeated (e.g. Russia, Romania). The primary fault with the treaty lay not so much in the German punitive provisions, as the Allied government's later unwillingness to enforce them and the dangerous consequences thereof. In short, this book gives a realistic look about how deals (e.g. international treaties) are really made and what the Versailles Treaty actually created.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Margaret MacMillan, an historian based at Ryerson University, gives us her account of the Paris conference of 1919. The German, Austro-Hungarian, Russian and Ottoman Empires had all gone, and delegates from thirty countries met for six months to agree Treaties supposed to bring peace and stability. But in fact the British, French, US and Italian governments made all the decisions. And how much peace did the Conference achieve? According to the British officer Archibald Wavell, 1919 was more a peace to end peace. The conference backed the counter-revolutionary war against Russia. Winston Churchill. spurred by class hatred, was the most vicious and slanderous enemy of the Russian people. He boasted about the forces that he more than anyone had sent into Russia, ¿they shot Soviet Russians at sight. They stood as invaders on Russian soil. They armed the enemies of the Soviet Government. They blockaded its ports and sunk its battleships. They earnestly desired and schemed its downfall.¿ MacMillan, to her shame, writes, ¿With hindsight, Churchill and Foch were right about the Bolsheviks.¿ Further, the Conference let Britain and France divide the Middle East into occupied mandates, `telling the Moslem what he ought to think¿, as Balfour said. MacMillan quotes Lloyd George, ¿Mesopotamia ... yes ... oil ... we must have Mesopotamia; Palestine ... yes ... the Holy Land ... Zionism ... we must have Palestine; Syria ... h¿m ... what is there in Syria? Let the French have that.¿ MacMillan likens the end of the First World War to the counter-revolutions in Eastern Europe in 1989-90: ¿there was the same sense of a new order emerging.¿ But the end of the Soviet Union did not bring peace, quite the opposite: it ended the post-1945 peace settlement and ushered in a period of wars, from Yugoslavia to Chechnya to Iraq. Nor did the 1919 Conference bring a new order, ending war. This is fashionable history seen through the prism of personalities, the `great man¿ approach to history. No wonder that Blair, we are told, liked this book!
Anonymous 28 days ago
This book=k did illustrate its points quite well and it clear what the author thinks of the conferences of 1919. In that respect I would say that the book is good and can be informative as well as eye opening to the truths of the conventions.the analysis of the conventions provides a different lens to look through so to speak. this provides an interesting experience throughout the book that could alter the readers views of the conventions. however, unless the reader has a previous experience or liking for the subject the book could be a difficult or boring read. which takes away from the overall experience itself. the book is clearly written as an informative piece and therefore lacks in the entertainment department. this leads to an underrating of the book and can cause the reader to grow bored or tired of the subject at hand.i would only recommend this book to those who are already interested in this time in history in the subject matter itsekf.
stephmo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Having listened to the audio book for nearly two months on a short commute to work, I feel as if I nearly lived the entire peace conference of 1919. Then again, I'm also living in an era of ongoing negotiations for a health care bill meant to solve the problems of a country in a fair and diplomatic manner that has become mired down in nasty politics, backroom deals, sidebars having nearly nothing to do with the main issue at hand and threats upon threats if individuals do not get their way...all so something historic and good can finally happen.How does the saying go? The more things change, the more they stay the same?In nearly 24 hours of audio, MacMillan's book gets one point very clear: Politics has gotten no worse or better in the last one hundred years. No matter the issue or the cause, we're still the same, coming together as a group speaking of nothing but the greater good. When everyone gets down to business, however, it becomes clear that in the pursuit of the greater good everyone intends to shuttle just a little something to the side that will just happen to befit their pet causes. And if it means moving boundaries, dissolving a country or two, asking some people to adopt a new nationality or demanding a little something based on land occupied a thousand years ago - what of it? MacMillan humanizes the peace treaty process and gives credit where credit is due. It is a fascinating story, although it does become tedious in parts...where minor players with interesting personalities are afforded far too much time in the book, it makes the German response to the treaty seem almost rushed. Still, we could all do far worse than knowing the story of how men come together to carve up the world and their people in the name of peace and how those decisions changed the world forever.
cushlareads on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the best non-fiction I've read this year. It's a dense read, packed with geography, history, and politics, but with enough funny stories to stop it from getting too difficult. I loved it.Margaret MacMillan tells the story of the carve-up of the world after World War 1, starting with chapters on the 3 men who did most of the carving: Woodrow Wilson, Georges Clemenceau, and David Lloyd-George, her great-grandfather. From there she moves onto a detailed look at the different regions. There is tons of detail - if you're looking for a rough and ready overview of the world in 1920, this isn't your book. I found the Central Europe section rewarding but very slow going, because it was the least familiar to me. The maps are really good and kept me from getting lost.It's a very depressing book though. She is clear about how the Paris deal-making contributed to Hitler's rise, World War 2, and many current conflicts. (For NZ and Aussie readers, our dear leaders don't cover themselves in glory...)
Trainor on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Its taking me longer to read than it did for the actual events to unfold. I find myself quickly diverting off to find another read and come back to this for short periods, taking each chapter in like it's study material.
CymLowell on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Why is our world in such a mess today? Why do we have constant political problems in Israel-Palestine, in the Balkans, in Iraq and the Middle East, between the U.S. and France, and so on?Are these issues a result of events happening today or yesterday?All of these issues, and many others, are in one way or another tied to the resolution of World War I, which was, historians tell us, triggered by the assassination of an Austrian prince in Sarajevo. The Germans and the Austria-Hungarians then commenced a war that was largely fought in the trenched fields of France and Belgium. Millions died on all sides, including the Russian front.When the war was over, due to surrender by the Germans before the war crossed the Rhine, the Paris Peace Conference was convened to settle the political fallout. New countries were created, old borders re-drawn, entreaties granted or denied, and the personalities and relationship of Woodrow Wilson, Clemenceau, and Lloyd George created a new world order. The war to end all wars, of course, was a failure in many ways, not the least of which the breakout of another war with a generation.Many of the whys and wherefores of the Twentieth Century emanate from the Paris Peace Conference. We see the fallout everyday in the press.Paris: 1919 is a historical masterpiece. In many places it reads like a history book, complete with the author¿s feelings about the nature of conversations that did or could have taken place. On the other hand, it is an easy read in terms of focusing on the history of places or events that are of interest to you. In my case, I have always been fascinated by Turkey, Israel-Palestine, the Crusades, the Byzantine Empire, Roman and Greek conquest and administration of the area, and so on. These subjects are addressed in the final 150 or so pages. I read each word, riveted by the role that one of my favorite historical characters (T.E. Lawrence, the ubiquitous Lawrence of Arabia) played in the peace process.I found Paris: 1919 to be amazingly thought-provoking. Would the world be a better place today if Woodrow Wilson had had a different personality, or if the U.S. had taken the Palestinian Mandate?Could Barack Obama, Gordon Brown, and Nicholas Sarkozy to a better job if we had a Paris: 2010 Peace Conference?If you wonder about the politics of today, spend a few hours in the politics of 1919-1920 and let your own thoughts soar.
rolandallnach on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
'1919: Six Months That Changed the World' is a fascinating, informative book that covers the history following World War I, a complicated tangle of nationalism, imperialism, political bungling, and power jockeying that has for the most part escaped the attention of common outlets for history. While the diplomatic situations leading up to WWI are pretty well known, the outcome of the war is typically summed in two ideas, the vindictive Versailles Treaty and Wilson's Points, leading to the League of Nations. MacMillan's book details to fine degree why so much of Versailles went wrong, and why so much of what came out of the conference was a product of personalities rather than Wilson's idealism (though this, too, was a product of personality). There is a wealth of post WWI history that MacMillan put into proper reference. This was not just about nationalism, but the fact- for example- that the establishment of Poland was a rather bloody affair, leading to the conclusion that though the 'big' war had ended, a rash of smaller conflicts disseminated through smaller nations and lesser known regions. Sound familiar to today's world? It most certainly does, and as with most things historical, learning the history MacMillan presents here is a great way to understand some of the messes we have witnessed and continue to witness in today's world. This is an enriching, informative read, and MacMillan's prose flows smoothly throughout. As good as this book is, if one really wants a comprehensive reference for the period, start with John Keegan's excellent 'The First World War' and follow up with MacMillan's '1919'. Together, they form a definitive set for WWI history.
Angelic55blonde on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is about the Paris 1919 Peace Conference following the end of World War I. It is nicely organized and focuses on all aspects of the negotiations. The book is fairly long, due to the high amount of detail that was included. The research the author did was amazing and she included a great deal of information in her book. This is good and bad because I found the book to be tedious to read after awhile. About halfway through I got bored of the book.This is by no means light reading so I only recommend it to people who are genuinely interested in this topic. Otherwise you will probably be a little bored and find this book somewhat difficult to wade through.
GreyGhost on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A detailed look at the Paris Peace Conferance following the First Worl War. This is an excellent book which sets out how four men essentially redrew the maps of Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Africa and Asia, and laid the foundations for many of the tensions of the 20th Century. (The book is far better than my review.)
AnitaKemp on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Paris 1919 was an engaging character study of the Big Three: Georges Clemenceau, Lloyd George, and President Wilson. As an American, my history classes were inadequate on the subject of World War I. This book sent me to hunt for information in Wikipedia to bridge the gaps in my knowledge many times.MacMillan skillfully portrayed the expectations that were heaped upon the Peace Conference, and she also showed that the hopes and ideals were beyond the reach of men. Men with large staffs of intelligent advisors often ended up giving in to the forcefulness or charm of men who were grabbing territory and resources. I gained a better understanding of the troubles that have plagued the Slovaks, the Kurds, and even the Chinese. This book covered a neglected part of history -- The Peace.Ultimately, the shattered ideals of most of the key players in the book ended the story. I found President Wilson's story quite poinant. The one thing I did learn from my history education was that President Wilson failed to gain approval of the League of Nations that he so dearly believed in.This book was the beginning of my study of Modern History. It gave me a good understanding of the geography, personalities and the events that were affected by the Peacemakers after WWI. I would recommend it.
Whiskey3pa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fascinating account. Putting all the information needed into a coherent account is an impressive achievement. The author does a fine job of presenting the players with their good and bad traits. The number of hotspots that were left unresolved or exacerbated is a matter of record, but given the scope of what was being attempted and the state of the countries on the Allied side the overall job was probably not as bad as has been generally portrayed. I highly recommend this book. Match this up with The Proud Tower, Dreadnought and Castles of Steel.
BrianEWilliams on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Well written and researched. MacMillan is a good storyteller and keeps you interested. Geographically, she covers a lot of ground, from the Baltic to Palestine as did the so-called peacemakers. There's a lot of material here and it takes time to read and absorb. I agree with a previous reviewer that the portions about German response to the terms of the Treaty and the actual signing appear rushed and abrupt, but after close to 500 pages that is a small nit. The bibliography is a goldmine of reference material for further reading.
Shrike58 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
While some of the author's narrative choices can be taken issue with (I agree that the portion dealing with the endgame with Germany does feel rushed), it's hard to imagine a better survey being made of the diplomatic effort to make the carnage and destruction of the "Great War" count for something, besides capturing the human spectacle of it all. As MacMillan makes clear, Wilson, Lloyd George, and Clemenceau could have easily made a worse treaty, and certainly had every intention of trying to leave the world a better place for their efforts. That the Treaty of Versailles became a shorthand description for the failures of the period between the two world wars is not a commentary on the work done in the 1919, it's a commentary on human denial about how low one can sink, or at least the limitations of power; the last point probably being MacMillan's most important theme.
Cecrow on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A bit dry for my taste as it turned out, with endless detail on the outcome for each part of Europe following WWI, but very educational. I learned a lot about the origin of today's state of Israel, and why certain decisions that seem obviously wrong in retrospect and which led to WW2 actually made sense at the time. Chalk it up to the world's inexperience in 1919 with attempting to establish peace on this scale; I hope we've learned from it.
ck2935 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is very detailed, but provides a facinating account of the Paris conference after WWI. So much of the good and bad of the 20th century was shaped at this conference. Very interesting.
caobhin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My sister read this a while back, and considered it quite an accomplishment to get through this monster of a text.I must admit - I didn't read EVERY page, but skipped a few of 'em. Nevertheless, an interesting read in places and definitely an asset for anyone (like me) interested in early 20th century history.
Bob1438 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very interesting and well written. However, Dad said the author seems to have swallowed the Anglo-American version of events without question.
ksmyth on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a great book. It is an interesting look at the Paris Peace Conference, and the complications that made reaching Wilson's ideals all but impossible. Perhaps the most interesting aspects of the book are MacMillan's conclusions. She absolutely rejects the notion that the slide of Germany and Italy into totalitarianism are attributable to the agreements reached at Versailles. Rather she faults the leaders of the 30's and their unwillingness to intervene in the crises of those times.
Miro on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Paris 1919 is a fine piece of scholarship. It goes far beyond recounting the events of the post WWI peace conference to explore the context of decisions and the personalities involved.She recounts the economic and political pressures on Wilson, Lloyd-George and Clemenceau, their characters, and the exaggerated expectations of the Allied victors.In general terms Wilson's fair and reasonable 14 points were used as cover for an epic land and power grab at the expense of the defeated Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires with a collection of the most outrageous nationalistic and historical claims being put forward.
rakerman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A slow read, but a fantastic introduction to the history of the period. The lines they drew on maps have had far-reaching implications.
JBD1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A near-comprehensive, accessible examination of the Versailles peace talks and their participants.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's pretty good, but Professor MacMillan subscribes to the theory that short men are devious, untrustworthy, and emotional. So if you're a little guy, you definitely shouldn't read this.