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A World Undone: The Story of the Great War,…
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A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, 1914 to 1918 (vuoden 2007 painos)

– tekijä: G. J. Meyer (Tekijä)

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
6532826,479 (4.31)106
A narrative of the First World War examines the brutal conflict that transformed the face of Europe, paved the way for the rise of the Soviet Union and Hitler, and had repercussions that even today affect the stability of the Middle East and the Balkans.
Jäsen:Heather.Dennis
Teoksen nimi:A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, 1914 to 1918
Kirjailijat:G. J. Meyer (Tekijä)
Info:Bantam (2007), Edition: Reprint, 816 pages
Kokoelmat:read
Arvio (tähdet):*****
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A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, 1914 to 1918 (tekijä: G. J. Meyer)

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wow, great read ( )
  frfeni | Jan 31, 2021 |
A World Undone by G. J. Meyer is a comprehensive description of what happened in World War I ("The Great War") from a high perspective. That is, why, and who, made things go as badly as they did. There are many books with the same goal as this one, but one unique feature in this book is that it's written for a modern day reader. Countries, borders are described in terms of present-day (or 2006) Europe, Asia and Africa.

I found this to be a very descriptive book and well worth reading for anyone that is remotely interested in the worst parts of modern decision making. This time represents the break from where soldiers are treated as numbers in a book, to actual people and such breaks rarely happen without pain, and neither did it do so here.

The text is organized chronologically with a few in-between chapters with background information on topics that couldn't be naturally interleaved into the book itself. I found that to be a very well chosen way to organize the book and as the author explains, events on one front, especially for the German army can't be properly explained if you are not aware of what happened on the other fronts at the same time.

So what this book also gives is the opportunity to see that very few military commanders and politicians were actually making wise decisions, and in more than one case, wise decisions were actually punished. We have the French philosophy of "offense, offense, offense" that kept being the mantra years after the machine guns had started slaughtering anyone that started advancing over no-mans-land. We have the British philosophy of mounted cavalry, 60 years after the charge of the light brigade. We have the Austrians that thought that an advance doesn't have to have protected flanks and supply lines and over and over again let their people be surrounded and massacred. We have the Russians that tried to win the war with manpower disregarding such things as equipment, tactics, communication and cooperation.

In fact, on the military side, the only people I developed any respect for was the Germans which seemed to have some sense of learning from mistakes and actually tried to preserve the life of their people. On the other hand, they were probably the only ones that could have ended the war earlier (by withdrawing to pre-war borders) and they didn't.

So who was the bad guy then? Well, in hindsight I'd say all of them. And none. Everyone got caught up in a mess of relationships, dreams, hate and want of glory. Serbia wanted to dominate Balkan and collect all South Slaves in one nation. Austria wanted to keep their Balkan provinces stable and thought they had to stop Serbian expansion using the first available excuse. Russia thought it needed to keep status quo at Balkan. Germany thought they were under threat of attack from Russia with their ally France. France dreamed of recovering (Germanic) areas that had once belonged to France. Britain wanted to keep the continental powers weak and balanced and disliked the German strength. So all the early participants thought the war had to happen. Not everyone in every country but enough to prevent it from not happening. This is what the book reveals if you read it and it explains a lot.

But why didn't it stop? That is an even better question. I am not sure the book contains a good explanation here but I think it's in part because losses in people didn't really matter. People were plentiful and could be ignored, at least up until 1917 when the French Army mutinied and the Russian revolution took place and 1918 when the starving German people refused to support the war anymore. One interesting, and plausible, explanation the book presents is the effect of the war propaganda. All sides had used war propaganda heavily to paint a very wrongful and very dark picture of the enemy and with everyone caught in that mindset it actually made it political suicide to start negotiations or even mention "balanced peace".

The book is still mostly occupied with the military and political side of the war and explains how places like Verdun and Somme could become slaughtering fields. "War of attrition" is the nice word for "let's kill more of them than they kill of us until they are at 0 alive and we are not" and it's a scary idea. I would have wanted a little more descriptive displays of what life in the trench was like, or maybe I should be glad I was spared it, but it feels like the book stayed slightly aloft from the most gory details. That aloftness together with a slightly short ending and a slightly short description of the life in the waring countries might be the reason I stay away from the very highest grade. Still it's an excellent book and maybe it would have just been too long if everything had been included. It's still not a short book.

But I mentioned the short ending. Because eventually the war ended and then the idiots, sorry typo, Allied leaders, decided to create a peace that made World War II and many conflicts up until the Syrian civil war of today almost inevitable. Because instead of replacing the German, Austrian, Russian and Ottoman empires with something stable and robust, arbitrary map lines, unreasonably demands and unjust treatment increased the tensions around Europe even more. I would have wanted a more descriptive follow-up of what the decisions eventually caused, just to show the reader how badly the Versailles Peace screwed things up.

So "The Great War", instead of being the war that ended all wars, it was the war that created even worse wars.

My conclusions come from previous knowledge and the contents of the book. If you want to make your own conclusions, read the book because I don't think it forces you to take any particular standpoint.
( )
  bratell | Dec 25, 2020 |
Wow!

I couldn’t say I really knew much about World War I, apart from the real basics, before reading this. This book really made a difference in detailing all the aspects of a war that is nowadays often overlooked, because of the even bigger atrocities of World War II. Highly recommended! ( )
  DPinSvezia | Nov 9, 2020 |
Excellent one volume overview of World War I. ( )
  notalice | Mar 28, 2020 |
Do you want to understand how the Great War played out? Do you want to understand the major players and where they were coming from? Read this book. So well laid out and broken down into manageable pieces. Fantastic. ( )
  redbird_fan | Jan 13, 2020 |
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Tekijän nimiRooliTekijän tyyppiKoskeeko teosta?Tila
G. J. Meyerensisijainen tekijäkaikki painoksetcalculated
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A narrative of the First World War examines the brutal conflict that transformed the face of Europe, paved the way for the rise of the Soviet Union and Hitler, and had repercussions that even today affect the stability of the Middle East and the Balkans.

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