Friday, April 4, 2014

"The calamity from which all other calamities sprang”

August marks the centennial of the beginning of the First World War — the Great War — perhaps, as the paragraph quoted below argues, the most consequential event in the history of the 20th Century. The quotation is from a very good Economist review article about some of the many books that have been and will be published on the subject of the war.
.... The war destroyed empires (some quickly, some more slowly), created fractious new nation-states, gave a sense of identity to the British dominions, forced America to become a world power and led directly to Soviet communism, the rise of Hitler, the second world war and the Holocaust. The turmoil in the Middle East has its roots in the world it spawned. As Fritz Stern, a German-American historian, put it, the conflict was “the first calamity of the 20th century, the calamity from which all other calamities sprang”. .... [more]