You can WhatsApp us on We pay for videos too. Click here to upload yours. Sign in. All Football. Alahna Kindred. There was very little discussion of their allies and almost none of their enemies. Although, in theory, the book is only about , in practice he spends a lot of time talking about themes that run through the whole war, like the financing of it. He also tells the whole story of the war in Africa, all the way up to , in this first volume. You get a very real sense of how the war moved from being just a bunch of Europeans fighting each other into a World War, both in terms of the European war sucking in the resources of the world to add fuel to the fire but also in terms of the war being exported to Africa, to Asia, to the Americas.
Are there any take-homes or generalizations we can make after reading it? Although, as I say, the two points that come out of the book are the need to treat the war internationally and the need to see it globally. Those were the new departures that he made when the book came out in Although some people had talked about looking at it in those terms, not enough people had. On the causes of the war, he does two interesting things.
This slithering-by-accident-into-war is not the case. If you want to find the causes of the war, we have to look deeper. We have to look into mentalities: how people were thinking and the way that people thought about war and international relations. And even cultural trends. Get the weekly Five Books newsletter. One of the points that he makes is that the traditional distinction that most historians make—whereby, broadly, you have international historians talking about the causes of war and then military historians talking about what happens during the war—is a false one.
Nor can you understand the conduct without understanding the causes. And so he tries, if you like, to bridge the divide between peace and war. You have to keep expanding, or else you will die as a country or as a nation. That idea goes deep into the German psyche. The book is about , and he writes about a key battle that year, the Battle of the Marne.
The first two books we discussed were both trying to tell the global history of the war.
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This book is doing something different. Adrian Gregory is one of the best historians of the British Home Front that we have. The way that the book pulls together social history and cultural history, in particular, is the most distinctive thing about it.
It was an extreme view, but there were people who thought that. There were others, for instance, who when the churchmen stood up on a Sunday and gave their sermons and said we should fight the Hun because he represents everything that is ungodly believed that too. A lot of the tropes that were used were suggesting—maybe sometimes very subtly—that this was a sacrifice not only for Britain but also to God.
A lot of modern historians, because of who we are and the relatively secular society that most of us have been brought up in, tend to underestimate how much religion was part of the warp and weft of everyday life years ago. It must, therefore, have played a much greater role in explaining how people acted. Are there any other reasons that people were prepared to go to war? What debate is this touching on? People did cheer in the streets, that definitely happened.
But most people went off to war because they felt they had to, rather than because they actively wanted to. There are some people who are. They make sure all that is done and then they join up. It happens after about a month. He seems to feel quite strongly about it.
World War II looks like a straightforward crusade against the Nazis. World War I can look futile and hard to explain in comparison. The nature of the Second World War changed a lot as it went on. But, with hindsight, it looks very black and white. What are the results of the Second World War? In you get peace, you get the Attlee government, you get the National Health Service.
We have to make a better world at the end of this one. Life was good before.
Little Book of Britain at War : Pat Morgan :
How do we get back there? So, if you like, the Second World War is in tune with history. Thinking purely about the military history of the war, a lot of it has been caught up with debates about the ability or otherwise of the armies, particularly the British Army, to learn how to fight this new kind of war.
Nothing important is omitted, there are no howlers, and yet plenty of myths are gently corrected — especially those surrounding the first world war. Tombs plays a straight bat.
The little book that gave American GIs their first taste of England during WW II
Rather, he draws on the latest research to give us something close to a comprehensive picture. The American Revolution had more to do with the Quebec Act, which recognised the traditional rights of the Catholic church in Canada, than with the Stamp Act. High Tories in the 19th century were closer to modern sensibilities on many issues — notably welfare — than their Liberal opponents.
As for the declinism which dominated our post-war thinking, a few well-chosen economic statistics show how utterly misplaced it was. All of us, inevitably, will disagree with something or other. And he is far too kind to the lamentable Lord North.
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But the power of this book is in its sweep, its ambition and its perspective. Lloyd George was the first plebeian to rise to the highest office since Thomas Cromwell.
Margaret Thatcher divided the nation as no prime minister since Peel. You sense the solidity of the subject matter: the English dealt as phlegmatically with the Black Death, avoiding the millenarian enthusiasms of contemporary Europeans, as they were later to deal with the Blitz. The distrust of central government is a constant, animating the Country Party of the 18th century as it animates Ukip.
There are beautiful passages about English literature — Tyndale, Shakespeare and Cranmer, obviously, but also a lot of Defoe — as well as on historiography. Why England? Because, although it was a sovereign and separate state only very briefly — between Alfred and Cnut — it is the obvious historical unit.
Toby Young. James Delingpole. The Spectator.
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