In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. Seattle Squeeze: New Urban Living
  2. Checking In
  3. Ben Aronson's Representational Abstractions
  4. Rock is ... Forever?
  5. We Need the Arts: A Sob Story
  6. Form Following (Commercial) Function
  7. Two Humorous Items from the Financial Crisis
  8. Ken Auster of the Kute Kaptions
  9. What Might Representational Painters Paint?
  10. In The Times ...

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

« How Not to Create an Airliner | Main | Separating Art and Artist »

October 11, 2007

From Visitors 1: WWI Recommendations

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Back in this posting, I asked for recommendations for sources about World War One. Given how much erudite advice came flooding in, I thought I'd be missing the chance to do a real public service if I didn't take the tips and put them into a posting of their own.

Charlton Griffin points out that Wikipedia's entry on the war is very well done. Charlton himself has produced an audiobook of Garrett and Godfrey's "Europe Since 1815," and he says it's a good introduction to the era. (I do love a good introduction ...)

"Mud, Blood, and Poppycock" by Gordon Corrigan gets thumbs-up from Alex, Dearieme, and others. Lexington Green recommends "The Swordbearers" by Correlli Barnett; Lex has also written some substantial postings himself about the War: here, here, here.

Alex and tschafer put in a good word for the military historian John Terraine; Tschafer and Narr think Niall Ferguson's "The Pity of War" has a lot going for it; Narr also likes John Mosier's "The Myth of the Great War." William Suddeth is a fan of G.J. Meyer's "A World Undone: The Story of the Great War" (a mere 800 pages), and Ned recommends Sir Basil Liddell Hart's "The Real War."

That ought to keep me in reading material for the next quarter-century or so. Many thanks to all.



posted by Michael at October 11, 2007


I hate to Thread-Jack, but since you are talking about book recommendations:
A while back you recommended a Book of Quotes and I can not find the posting. Could you, or any reader, possibly mention the book again?


Posted by: Ian Lewis on October 11, 2007 3:39 PM

Ferguson's Pity of War blew my mind. I now agree with him - the world would be a much better place today if Britain had let Germany win. The Kaisers Germany was an OK, modernising force. They would have crushed the Bolsheviks in the long run as well.

Posted by: Land Monster on October 11, 2007 5:27 PM

Land Monster may be being facetious . . . but anyway, I think Ferguson is stronger in his analysis of how the war went than in his speculation about a counterfactual German victory (or British non-involvement, which is much the same thing).

Imagine how insufferable the Germans could have become if they had, once again, had a short, victorious war; having conquered Europe by arms, how long would it take for them to try conquering the world? Kaiser Bill was not the madman Hitler was, but he was pretty unstable, and probably would have listened to the more aggressive of his advisors.


Posted by: Narr on October 11, 2007 6:32 PM

Donald Kagan's "On the Origins of War and the Preservation of Peace" has a good chapter on the origins and causes of the Great War. He casts it as a balance of power issue, and he suggests that things might have gone very differently had Germany maintained the sane foreign policy that Bismarck had fashioned.

Michael, it's not really "straight" history, but I really liked a book called "Rites of Spring," which can be described, I suppose, as a cultural history of the Great War and the interwar period. One of the arguments of the book is that modernism -- instead of having its genesis in the war -- helped pave the way for the war, and fueled the great enthusiasm with which its outbreak was greeted by those who were about to be fed into its maw.

Posted by: Kate Marie on October 11, 2007 8:06 PM

I stump for Vera Brittain's _Testament of Youth_ (1933), one of the most famous war narratives by a woman (I wrote my master's thesis on Brittain). Brittain served as a nurse in WWI and lost her fiance, brother, and two close male friends. It was filmed in the late 1970s, shown on PBS, and is available on video. Brittain's daughter is the British politician Shirley Williams.

Posted by: Elizabeth Foxwell on October 13, 2007 8:45 AM

Don't forget Barbara Tuchmann's "The Guns of August."

Posted by: beloml on October 14, 2007 11:46 AM

Tuchman's "The Proud Tower" is an essential companion to The Guns of August. She comments how contemporaries thought another general European war impossible due to economic interconnetions that would be ruined in a war.
Also, Lyn Macdonald wrote a book on each year of WW 1. Her form is stitching together long primary quotes from soldiers who were there. She writes on their experiences, not on what general ordered what division to charge. Highly recommended.

Posted by: rek on October 16, 2007 1:01 PM

A War Imagined by Samuel Hynes.

From Publishers Weekly
According to Hynes ( The Auden Generation ), WW I engendered a sense of idealism betrayed, turned high-mindedness into cynicism and gave rise to resentment of politicians as the conviction emerged that the war was meaningless, fought for no good cause. Calling this cluster of attitudes the "Myth of the War," Hynes shows how these received views, filtered through the '30s generation of Auden, Orwell, Waugh and Greene, became "the truth about war." In this splendid study, the Princeton professor of literature draws on novels, poems, films, plays, paintings, music and diaries to show how WW I fostered radical discontinuity with the past, an upsurge in images of violence and cruelty, and the alienation of a "lost generation"; and intensified pacificist and women's rights activism. Photos.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

It tells how the war influenced the arts and vice versa.

Posted by: ligneus on October 17, 2007 8:43 PM

Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember your info?