Skip to comments.'Catastrophe' by Max Hastings - magisterial and humane history of the First World War
Posted on 10/26/2013 11:49:11 AM PDT by Ravnagora
German soldiers cross into Belgium in August 1914 Photo: RA/Lebrecht Music & Arts
Like one of Field Marshal Haigs family whiskies, Max Hastings is a dram that steadily improves with age.
His own trenchant views on war, and caustic opinions of the commanders who ran them, tended to obtrude too obviously in his early works, suggesting that if only he had been present at key military conferences costly errors would have been avoided.
However, Hastingss recent massive volumes on his specialist subject, the Second World War, have shown why his position as Britains leading military historian is now unassailable. They demonstrate not only his always formidable grasp of the nuts and bolts of logistics and strategy and an authoritative narrative sweep, but a new humane note of empathy not always present in military history, or indeed in his early works.
In this enormously impressive new book, Hastings effortlessly masters the complex lead-up to and opening weeks of the First World War. As a historian, his objective is twofold: to pin the principal blame for launching the catastrophic conflict where it rightly belongs: on Austria and Germany; and to argue unashamedly that Britain was right politically and morally to fight it.
In advancing these arguments, Hastings takes on two foes: first, revisionist historians such as Cambridges Prof Christopher Clark who have recently sought to exculpate Germany and put tiny Serbia in the dock as the chief villain, for organising or conniving in the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand at Sarajevo the spark that gave Vienna and Berlin a perfect excuse to set off the conflagration.
(Excerpt) Read more at telegraph.co.uk ...
Its World War One; theres thirteen million killed; it was all because the militaries of both alliances believed they were so highly attuned to one anothers movements and dispositions, they could predict one anothers intentions, but all their theories were based on the last war. And the world and technology had changed, and those lessons were no longer valid, but it was all they knew, so the orders went out, couldnt be rescinded. And your man in the field, his family at home, they couldnt even tell you the reasons why their lives were being destroyed.
What was the.fatality count for WII?
Count me as a Max Hastings fan.
most of the blame for WW1 rests on the head of a narcisstic, incompetent, arrogant, petulant, childish, clinically insane ruler named wilhelm II. description sound familiar?
—nonetheless, in another of the weighty tomes on the subject which I have read, it is asserted that the German General Staff , knowing his kinship to and ties to Great Britain, usually didn’t let him know what they really were planning-—
—and , while not generally mentioned , from the time of Bismarck on , there was apparently much feeling in the British right-wing of politics , that the new “Germany” should be reduced to a nation of agricultural serfdom-—naturally enough, the Krauts didn’t agree-—
Early in the war, soldiers on both sides sang Christmas carols to each other. By the end of the war, they just wanted to kill the other side and get it done with. Perhaps that war played as big a role as anything in killing off Christianity in Europe.
I too love Hastings' work. Perhaps he has an answer to my questions in this book.
Difficult to comprehend. Very grim.
I’ve seen stats for the soviet union of 20-26 million dead, civilians included.
This is believed to be the major reason why the soviets subscribed to the threat of Mutually Assured Destruction. They didn’t want a nuclear war with the US with more millions dead.
I also believe Iran doesn’t give a damn about MAD. They are religious fanatics. They just want to have the bomb and I believe they will initiate first use.
My Great Uncle, Newfoundland Regiment British Army, that if he knew then the realities he have hid in the woods with the Frenchies.( Exact Quote.)
The German awareness of the Morgenthau Plan - the "agrarian serfdom" plan championed by FDR's Sec'y of the Treasury - stiffened the resolve of many individual German soldiers in 1944 and '45, even ones that were no longer particularly enamored of the National Socialist German Workers Party. Words do have consequences, although not necessarily for the political hacks and government weenies that spout them.
As far as blame for WWI goes, there is plenty to be ladled out, and everyone gets their share. I'll have to see if the local bookstore has a copy of "Catastrophe," but I've gotten weary of books full of politicians, generals and grand overviews to the point where books like "A Rifleman Went to War" or "Storm of Steel" are more welcome here than "the latest great scholarly view of the subject."
I second that. The 20th century was a long period of decline. Christianity in decline. Freedom in decline. Culture in decline. We did develop toys and technology (I won't complain about antibiotics and computers) but so much of the 20th century was movement away from what a Conservative would like to see.
I blame WWI (and the Progressives) for really getting the bad trip going.
It Really Was All Germanys Fault
Max Hastings Traces a Wars Origins in Catastrophe 1914
I’d say it’s a lot more complicated than that. You can’t lay all the blame on Wilhelm II. He was a major player of course, but there were quite a few trigger points at which individuals could have stopped the war, and he was just one of those individuals. Now you can make a case that he was a strong contributor to the powder keg that was waiting (with his provocative positions such as his naval race with the UK), but the rulers of Serbia, Austria, or Russia could have stopped the war from occurring as well.
The rulers of Serbia were as “compliant” as humanly possible (more than they should have been) to Austria’s “Ultimatum” of July 23, 1914, and it still wasn’t “good enough”. Nothing that Serbia did or did not do would have prevented Austria from attacking her, because Austria was hell bent on crushing Serbia.
Well, she should have rethought that desire, because in the end, it was the Austro-Hungarian Empire that was “crushed” and dissolved.
Wilhelm II is a bit of a complicated case. While on the one hand he was pushing for war, on the other, when war was actually becoming a very real possibility, he started backtracking. By that time though, the wrecking ball was not to be stopped.
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