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November 11, 1918 to 2018, A Century of Progress?

If I were a student of American popular culture, I would follow the Media today just to see if anybody cares about the Great War ending 100 years ago. It is possible that a few of them do. But don't hope for too much in this country.

But if you look at a wider circle, there is some good news. With the exception of the USA, most of the combatants of the Great War are not addicted to war anymore. They don't seem to see it as inevitable.

Perhaps the USA is the exception because its people didn't suffer invasion or privation during the world wars. And its corporations made a lot of money during both world wars.

It is also good news that Bolshevism -- one of the miserable legacies of that war -- is dead.

There is some sad news to offset some of this: the Mideast is still a mess, thanks to the policies and agreements that arose during the Great War.

On a personal level I am going to commemorate the day by reading some of the excellent anti-establishment opinion pieces out there, today. (Such as Caitlin Johnstone's.)

And rereading my grandfather's biography. (He was a new immigrant from Sweden, who was drafted for duty into that ghastly war.)

And I bought Christopher Clark's "The Sleepwalkers." It's about the only history of the Great War I haven't read.


Ed said…
I have read a lot of H. G. Wells who wrote a lot about the Great War. Recently read Conan Doyle's book about the Boers War. They both pointed out the very dated military thinking (fighting the last war) in Great Britain.

The Brits got plenty of experience in the Boer War and learned nothing. Doyle repeatedly pointed out that the defender with good entrenchment can not be defeated with artillery barrages and full frontal attacks and that is the exact strategy that was employed by the Brits in the Great War.

The U. S. lost the Vietnam War but the military continues to use the same failed strategy and tactics in Afghanistan. They learned nothing - insane.

They also do not understand the Two Rules of Warfare – 1) Never March on Moscow and 2) Never March on Moscow.
Anonymous said…
Boonie, your message was perfect for the day. Solemn, understated, no rants. Those addicted to war should read it.

Thanks, Chris. But surely you don't want me to make a habit of understating things from now on! (grin)

Ed, you seem to have found quite a trove in those FREE Wells and Doyle books. Sounds like I owe myself a trip to .
Anonymous said…
In your opinion, what is the one best book to read about WWI?
Thanks, George
George, your question is straightforward, but the answer isn't. The main problem is that I read English, and have never gotten the story from the losers in central Europe who speak German.

It was fun to read "Fall of the Dynasties", by Edmond Taylor.
Ed said…
I read Infantry Attacks (German: Infanterie Greift An) by Erwin Rommel about his experiences in World War I. Excellent book on leadership without politics; tactics without doubt; soldiering without prejudice.

He does not provide the big picture of the war which you would probably be more interested in. Patton thought it was a great book however.
Anonymous said…
Thanks for that, KB.
You have periodically talked about WWI and I never fully tuned into its implications for the 20th century until I started reading "The Riddle of the Universe" by Ernst Haeckel, published in 1899. Here is one of the beginning paragraphs in ch. 1:
The close of the nineteenth century offers one of the most remarkable spectacles to the thoughtful observer. All educated people are agreed that it has in many respects immeasurably outstripped its predecessors, and has achieved tasks that were deemed impracticable at its commencement. An entirely new character has been given to the whole of our modern civilization, not only by our astounding theoretical progress in sound knowledge of nature, but also by the remarkably fertile[Pg 2] practical application of that knowledge in technical science, industry, commerce, and so forth. On the other hand, however, we have made little or no progress in moral and social life, in comparison with earlier centuries; at times there has been serious reaction.
This was written pre WWI, of course, and I doubt that Haeckel could even have imagined that we could have gotten to such a world situation as we are in today. That WWI started as a kind of perfect storm, yet human beings seem somehow incapable of halting the insanity of it all......and we could say the same things about ourselves now as what Haeckel said in 1899, although now, of course, it is all even worse as we have nuclear weapons and have improved the speed of delivering them, etc.
What is missing in human evolution to have allowed such an anomaly as this to be? I am talking about his observation of the lack of moral and social development.
Anonymous said…

So I guess my question is, and I am interested in what your readers' think as well, do you think it's true.....we have made phenomenal advancements in science....but have our moral and social development advanced as well?
George, I have never read Haeckel. Sounds like an interesting book and time period.