To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918
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To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  3,519 ratings  ·  421 reviews
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World War I stands as one of history’s most senseless spasms of carnage, defying rational explanation. In a riveting, suspenseful narrative with haunting echoes for our own time, Adam Hochschild brings it to life as never before. He focuses on the long-ignored moral drama of the war’s critics, alongside its generals and heroes. Thrown in jail for their...more
Kindle Edition, 501 pages
Published (first published 2011)
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L Fleisig
"When this century collapses, dead at last,
And its sleep within the dark tomb has begun,
Come, look down upon us, world, file past
And be ashamed of what our age has done.

Inscribe our stone, that everyone may see
What this dead era valued most and best:
Science, progress, work, technology
And death - but death we prized above the rest."

These verses, written by early 20th-century Czech playwright and author Karel Capek, sounded a fitting leitmotif as I read Adam Hochschild's "To End All Wars: A...more
I got a lot of pleasure and education from this book because of the author’s talent in weaving together stories of individual people and letting the bigger themes emerge from them. The focus is on individuals who resisted the war in Britain balanced by the personal tales of a select set of true believers. I was uplifted to experience how it was that some had the courage to work for peace and saddened by coming to terms with the futility of their efforts. On the other side of things, I came to pu...more
I think for many Americans this book will be something of a shocker. It tells the story of the British anti-war movement during World War I. First is the story of the enormous incompetence of those prosecuting the war; the highest ranking authority on the civil side was Prime Minister Asquith, and on the military side, the Generals French and Haig. This is a tale of enormous inhumanity, not just for the enemy, but for one's own troops as well, who were ordered to make suicide attacks by the tens...more
This is a compelling book that focuses on Britain during the Great War. Hochschild makes the conflict come alive, absolutely, and he is a writer of prodigious talent and skill. However, for some reason I can't quite explain, I never found his descriptions of the life and work of British peace activists -- really, the book's main thrust -- quite as compelling. I'm a huge admirer of those who have the fortitude and capacity for original thought necessary to hold their own when faced with a tidal w...more
Today marks 100 YEARS TO THE DAY that the First World War began with the invasion of Serbia by the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

"To End All Wars" is the story, told from a variety of viewpoints, of how Britain fared under the stresses of war between 1914 and 1918. The author "focuses on the long-ignored moral drama of [the war's] critics, alongside its generals and heroes." Among the persons with whom the reader becomes familiar are: Sir John French, a hero of the Boer War and the first commander of...more
Coming off the current frenzy of the popular TV series Downton Abbey, this book tied right in with its intellectual and entertaining explanation of how British officers approached WWI as if it were a fox hunt, and the calvary--immaculate in its red coats and precision--was the perceived answer to victory. Since the war did not end quickly or smoothly, we follow the transformation from a gentleman's war to an industrial one. We also learn of the many dissenters and their fate. I'm not into war bo...more
Hochschild has many admirable qualities as a writer. For one he seems generally obsessed with the worst that humanity can do. The Slave trade, the horrors and depredations of the Congo Free State have all been addressed, and in this current book the inferno of the Great War. But rather than wallowing in cheap nihilism and shock he is equally if not even more so, intrigued by those who against the currents of their day recognized an evil, and raised a voice, even if it was a feeble voice. Here th...more
Matt Johnson
There is no question that Adam Hochschild is a great writer. To End All Wars is well organized, thoroughly researched and passionately told narrative, but I cannot recommend the book without some serious qualification:

1. This book is about Great Britain's role in the war. Events such as the assassination of archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo, the sinking of the Lusitania, the fall of Tsarist Russia, and the US deployment to France are given passing mention and little more. Additionally, he focuses a...more
Florence Millo
This is one of the best history books that I have ever read. It is, of course about World War I. But it is so much more than a series of plans and generals and battles.
This book tells the story of the struggle through the both eyes of those who saw the war as a noble cause and those who saw it as utter madness to pit workers of the world against one another. This is what makes this book so unique. Included in it are both the British Commander-in-chief of the Western Front and his ardently pacif...more
'Aussie Rick'
Having read numerous books on the Great War I wondered if Adam Hochschild’s new book; “To End All Wars” could bring anything new to the field. I am happy to say that it does. I found this book to be an enjoyable and fascinating account of the Great War and those within British society who opposed England’s participation.

Overall it provides the reader with a compelling account of those soldiers who went off to war and fought and those who objected and refused to serve and their supporters. It co...more
I admit it: I am a "Downton Abbey" addict. After watching season two, I became curious to know more about World War I and settled on this book, which looks at the war primarily from a British perspective. This is nonfiction at its very best. No dry military history, this is more a social history of the war, full of interesting, complicated people. The author is a storyteller par excellence and has captured the conflicting emotions of the time, from ardent, patriotic hawks to the heavily spied up...more
Unlike World War II and the Cold War, World War I was not about any principles an individual could support or reject. Closer to our time, if the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 or the Able Archer crisis of 1983 had degenerated into a full-scale nuclear war, it also would not have been about anything. That war would have been over in a matter of hours, slaughtered hundreds of millions, and transformed a large portion of the Earth's surface into a radioactive wasteland. In contrast, World War I took...more
To End All Wars focuses primarily on the British experience during World War I, a fine choice because few other nations left a complete enough written record to assemble the kind of story this book endeavors to tell. This is not another battlefield history of tactics and maneuver. Those things have been covered well enough in any number of military histories. This book covers the human and social sides of the conflict, and its impact on the British public, and does so from two disparate perspect...more
There is little new to tell about World War One. John Keegan, Hew Strachan and others have written comprehensive, well-researched histories of a conflict that resulted in 20 million casualties. Barbara Tuchman wrote vividly about the diplomatic failures that resulted in the headlong rush to war. For firsthand accounts of the trenches, there is nothing to compare with the memoirs of Siegfried Sassoon, Robert Graves, and Edmund Blunden.

But in this finely written account Adam Hochschild achieves s...more
An absolutely fascinating Anglo-centric history of WW I written from the perspective of those who opposed the war. Hochschild is a master raconteur as he connects the lives of the have and have nots and the left with the right. We meet Sir John French, the commander of the BEF, whose very own sister is a dedicated leftist and peace agitator. We get into the plight of the conscientious objectors (CO's) who were put in prison and went on hunger strikes. We learn of the British soldiers who were ex...more
I love Hochschild and I would be a lot more positive if I didn't expect so much from him. The end of King Leopold's Ghost makes you think he has a sequel in mind about ED Morel, Rodger Casement and the movement against WWI in Britain. That isn't this book at all. Morel is only dealt with briefly and in an almost dismissive fashion, which is puzzling since Hochschild seems to adore him so in KLG.

This is more of a history of Britain's involvement in WWI in general with some attention payed to resi...more
This is not a book for the faint of heart. It's a chronicle of the bloodiest war of the 20th century, and encompasses the hollow reasons for starting the war, the hysteria of the working class in rushing to uniform, the gross incompetence of the generals in charge, the amazing and ridiculous bravery of the troops, and the idealism and courage of the anti-war movement. The book shows us how easily we're duped into war fever, and without drawing any obvious parallels allows us to see how very litt...more
Jill Hutchinson
In a word...terrific. I like this author and he doesn't disappoint with this book about WWI, the military leadership and the pacifists who attempted to sway public opinion. Told from the British perspective, it pulls no punches regarding the military leaders who still believed that the mounted cavalry was the ultimate weapon and who measured success by the number of their own troops killed in a battle. Although the pacifists and COs did not play much of a part in the overall scenario of war, the...more
Erik Simon
How weird is it that Britain's top general had a sister who was the war's loudest critic? Heartbreaking to read that militaristic old Rudyard Kipling was never again quite the same after he lost his son, never to be recovered, in this war. The Somme--too awful to comprehend, really. In one battle where the field was so muddy from all the rain, a soldier sank in mud and literally could not get out. He eventually sank to his suffocation, agonizingly slowly.

This book was utterly moving. It didn't f...more
Bryan Craig
This is a great overview of the loyalty and dissenting voice in England over World War One. Many of the pages are devoted to the action on the front than the actual details of the protestors. This is why it did not give it an A. I think people who are familiar with the war will skim over this stuff and read the interesting tales of people who faithfully supported the war and those who did not. I still recommend it and the writing is first rate.
The title of this book is, at least to me, rather misleading.
I picked this book up thinking that it would be an analysis of the contrast between conscientious objectors and militarist patriots over the span of the First World War.
What I found in its place was a well-written, immersive in-depth narrative of the chronology of the First World War with only glancing, all too brief looks at those who opposed the war, almost as if they were an afterthought.

Disappointing in that regard, though if you a...more
This is a hard book to criticize because things tend to shade into the entire idea of conscientious objection and world war I itself. Which is of course vaguely ironic as the objectors found it hard to criticize something so tied up in national well being and sense of place.

Still, this is almost exclusively a story of British socialist anti war objection, and honestly only a few of the higher class ones at that. Oh, and on top of all that a good half of the actual book is devoted to a general h...more
From the book: "While Woodrow Wilson is said to have called the struggled just ended the war to end all wars, Milner, grimly realistic, called the Versailles treaty "a Peace to end all Peace." And as we all know, Milner was far more right than Wilson in this case.

I give Adam Hochschild a standing ovation for the outstanding book about WW1 and some of its players. It is masterfully concise, yet with enough information to educate the reader.

My son was just studying WW1 in his high school history...more
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Really good book that focuses on the moral questions around WWI. It is not a traditional history with a chronological description of battles, etc. It focuses on Britain, specifically British anti-war protestors as well as the political leaders and senior military officials executing the war, and what both were thinking and feeling. The author relies on diaries, private papers, etc. that were made public over the past few years. He also gives a good background of events/alliances that led to the...more
Is questioning, criticizing, resisting, or rebelling against your country during time of war an act of loyalty or treason? Does it take more bravery to climb from your trench and storm 'no man's land' knowing you are likely to be cut down by machine gun bullets or blown to bits by high explosives, or to refuse to fight under penalty of death as you're excoriated by your countrymen as a coward or traitor?

To which should we be loyal? To our nation or our world? To our flag or our fellow workers on...more
Reading this book was, at times, a depressing experience. Obedience and trust by the common soldiers masquerading as courage and folly by generals and political leaders masquerading as wisdom and good military strategy infected both sides. A war that could have been easily avoided was eagerly sought by all sides. Even though the Germans were the first to attack, the British, in their eagerness for a war, goaded the Germans to attack so that the Germans would be seen as the evil aggressors. Every...more
What I like most about Hochschild's writing, is how available he makes history. He selects great characters, follows them through events and at the end, I care deeply about the people (even those I don't particularly like), so the events take on a greater significance. I never really understood the solemnity with which Agatha Christie's characters stood in honor of the end of the war - it was part of her stories, but now I have a small glimpse into how painful those brief moments of silence must...more
Barbara Mitchell
I received this book from Amazon Vine, chosen because although I've read much about World War II and have long known its cause was directly related to the first world war, I didn't actually know much about World War I. I also have a personal connection in that my husband's father was in the British Army, a veteran of the Boer War and World War I who apparently was emotionally as well as physically wounded in both. Now I understand his story much better.

One caveat I must point out is that Hochsch...more
The Great War (which was not that great for most participants) is covered by the author detailing major events dovetailed with stories of people from all walks of life and their differing viewpoints. I am not convinced the antiwar movement/pacifists were as important as the author wants them to be.
The author at times seems stunned that in the days of Empire ,that those who were jingoistic would be wholeheartedly be behind the war.These are minor criticisms for what on the whole is a pretty goo...more
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Mansfield Public ...: The"To End All Wars" review by Boyd Brown III 1 3 Jul 03, 2014 02:36PM  
  • The Beauty And The Sorrow
  • A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, 1914 to 1918
  • The First Day on the Somme
  • Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War
  • The Crimean War
  • The Great Silence
  • A World on Fire: Britain's Crucial Role in the American Civil War
  • The White War: Life and Death on the Italian Front 1915-1919
  • The Marne, 1914: The Opening of World War I and the Battle That Changed the World
  • The Somme: The Darkest Hour on the Western Front
  • The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War
  • Liberty's Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World
  • The End: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler's Germany 1944-45
  • The Great War and Modern Memory
  • July 1914: Countdown to War
  • The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914
  • The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916
  • Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age
Hochschild was born in New York City. As a college student, he spent a summer working on an anti-government newspaper in South Africa and subsequently worked briefly as a civil rights worker in Mississippi in 1964. Both were politically pivotal experiences about which he would later write in his book Finding the Trapdoor. He later was part of the movement against the Vietnam War, and, after severa...more
More about Adam Hochschild...
King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire's Slaves The Unquiet Ghost: Russians Remember Stalin Half the Way Home: A Memoir of Father and Son The Mirror at Midnight: A South African Journey

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