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The Kings Depart

The Kings Depart

5.0 4
by Richard M. Watt
The Kings Depart is the definitive story of a brief, pivotal moment in human history when the course and shape of the twentieth century might have been altered. Author Richard M. Watt begins with the defeat of the Kaiser in 1918 and the convention of the Versailles conference, where Europe was to be remade. This was the time when the victorious Allies might


The Kings Depart is the definitive story of a brief, pivotal moment in human history when the course and shape of the twentieth century might have been altered. Author Richard M. Watt begins with the defeat of the Kaiser in 1918 and the convention of the Versailles conference, where Europe was to be remade. This was the time when the victorious Allies might have imposed democracy on Europe by means of a peace with justice. Watt's gripping narrative quickly becomes tragedy as diplomacy and politics fail at every turn. He tells of victorious Allies too greedy and short-sighted to impose equitable peace on a defeated Germany, of Woodrow Wilson's tortured betrayal of his own idealism, and of a German people caught up in the realities of revolution, anarchy, and violence--waiting for the inevitable rise of a leader to exact vengeance on Europe--a Fuhrer. What began with the church bells of victory and hopes ends a year later in the first appearance of Adolf Hitler as a political power.

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Barnes & Noble
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History Series

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The Kings Depart 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of the greatest untold stories of modern history is that of Germany during the close of World War I. And Richard Watt, the author, tells this sweeping drama with a suberb style and in unprecedented detail. Watt covers every major event and intimately describes what went on behind closed doors during this extremely tumultuous time. Despite its defeat at the hands of the Western Allies, the German armed forces continued to play a leading role (albeit in the form of independent freikorps units) during the Communist and Secessionist rebellions in late 1918/early 1919. During these desperate times, private armies of Communists, Socialists, and ideologically vague - but intensely violent - conservative battled it out, often to the death, on the streets of Germany's great cities. And all the while Germans everywhere were starved, threatened, and exhausted physically, financially, and morally. It should come as no great wonder then that anyone living through this period should desire order above all else. And this ultimately led into the hands of Nazi propagandists who turned it to their own advantage. The book also covers some of the most fascinating episodes during this period - the Kiel Sailors' Mutiny, the Berlin Uprisings, the First Bavarian Revolution, the Second Bavarian Revolution, the amazingly amateurish diplomatic proceedings at Versailles, the birth of the 'Stab in the Back' legend by the 'undefeated' Germany Army, the birth of the Freikorps movement, the brief German fiefdoms in Latvia and Lithuania, the great scuttle at Scapa Flow (see The Grand Scuttle by Van Der Vat), the internal Weimar cabinet struggles regarding the Versailles Diktat, how the Allies agreed on particular frontier/reparations/guilt clauses, and how the German Army did ultimately lose the war. Weimar Germany - and perhaps much of Eastern Europe - was irrevocably and horribly scarred by this devastating period of chaos, political assassinations, and utter financial ruin. Gone was the relatively staid, quiet time, and relative tolerance of the imperial monarchies. Henceforth, Europe would be murderously divided by Communist & Fascist ideologies running like an explosive fault line running through most European nations. Besides an outstanding text, Watt includes a few photographs of the major personalities - including a rare few action shots taken during the Berlin Spartacist and Communist uprising. Watt's conclusion is that the ultimate right-wing victory was from the Social Democratic 'sell out' to the right-wing military establishment. The SD would never so much control affairs as preside over them. Key positions in the gov't - judges, military commands, and police officials - would remain occupied by right-wing elements until a suitable opportunity came to overthrow the hated Weimar Republic. What is amazing is that this bastard, stepson of a republic managed to survive for over a decade despite the fact that almost all German political parties were unanimous in their hatred of it. This is another outstanding book by the truly talented Richard M. Watt, and I highly recommend it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The sub-title of this book is 'The Tradegy of Germany: Versailles and the German Revolution' It was first published in 1968 but BN has re-published it in paperback for $14.95 - a bargain! The book covers the period from the armistice that ended World War I (November 11, 1918) to the signing of the Versailles treaty about a year and a half later (June 28, 1919). During this period Germany was swept by repeated revolutions from the left and counter-revolutions from the right. These ended finally in the establishment of the weak and unstable Weimar Republic but also (and ominously) in the founding of the Nazi party and the beginning of the career of Adolf Hitler. While Germany was in chaos, the leaders of the victorious nations (Lloyd George of Britain, Clemenceau of France and Woodrow Wilson of the United States) lead the discussion in Paris of the terms of the treaty that was to be imposed on Germany. It is generally agreed today that the Versailles treaty was a dreadfully botched job and that in the end it made almost inevitable the emergence of a revengeful and vicious Germany and then World War II. How all of this came about is a fascinating and horrifying story which Richard Watt tells with enormous skill and verve. In 530 meticulously researched pages, he has written the single most exciting history book I have ever read. It is a page-turner, a book I could hardly bear to put down. I have only one critical comment to make. It seems to me that this period of Bolshevik revolutions in Germany and also elsewhere especially in Hungary lead to something else other a a nationalistic fury and a desire for revenge. It lead to a sharp increase in anti-semitism. The holocaust itself, which would have been unthinkable in pre-war central Europe, became not only thinkable but perhaps likely after 1919. This view, I should stress, is my own only. At any rate it is a subject that Watt has chosen perhaps wisely not to address.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I greatly enjoyed this book. It helped start a 6000 page orgy of German history. This volume traces the birth of the modern era, the fall of the kings of Europe. In just a few years ten of fourteen monarchies had fallen. I had always had trouble with history leading up to World War II. I could never understand how any nations could grant a man the powers that Hitler had, let alone grant them to Hitler! Reading this book explained it to me.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I first read this book in the late 1960s while I was living in Paris. It was one of the most important history books that I ever read. I bought a copy of the book for my autocratic French boss, and he too, was impressed with it. WW I had been fought over a period of four years, and basically, nothing happened. Mr. Watt shows how the six months at Versaille brought about more changes in that time--both for good and bad. Probably the most memorable history book I ever read. I also treasure another book he wrote, 'Dare Call it Treason' which tells of the mutiny in the French trenches and which became the basis for the greatness and reverance of Marshall Petain. Yes, Marshall Petain. He was the first general to institute R&R for the troops. (No British general, on the other hand, ever visited the trenches.) Mr Watt also wrote about the finding the enigma machine in WW II. I am a big fan of his.