Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World
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Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  5,015 ratings  ·  336 reviews
The "war to end all wars" ended with a conference that helped spawn conflicts that persist to this day. The 1919 Versailles peacemakers created Iraq, Palestine, and Yugoslavia. They debated Kosovo, Kurdish independence, Islamic aspirations, women's rights, and the threat of communism. Margaret MacMillan's lively, detailed, sometimes mind-boggling narrative of the Paris Pea...more
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Published April 17th 2009 by Recorded Books, LLC (first published September 6th 2001)
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Do you know what I hate? I hate it when I find out that something I have known for years and years is not actually true. As a case in point, take the Treaty of Versailles. I hadn’t really thought about it all that much, but if asked I would have said that it would have most likely come out of a peace conference and that peace conference would have been held at Versailles. I know, I can be terribly literal at times. I also would have guessed that the conference might have lasted a few days, maybe...more
I think it was Churchill who said that the most fascinating aspects of World War I – from a historical perspective – was its beginning and end. The start: the shocking assassination of an unloved heir of a creaky empire, shot in a Balkan backwater and somehow touching off a world war. The end: the peace to end all war, monarchies toppled, empires disintegrated, lines redrawn. Certainly, the majority of war-literature resides in these bookend events.

I actually found my way to Margaret MacMillan’...more
"Each of the Big Three at the Peace Conference brought something of his own country to the negotiations: Wilson the United States' benevolence, a confident assurance that the American way was the best, and an uneasy suspicion that the Europeans might fail to see this; Clemenceau France's profound patriotism, its relief at the victory and its perpetual apprehension of a revived Germany; and Lloyd George Britain's vast web of colonies and its mighty navy. Each man represented great interests, but...more
When reviewing a book, it is generally considered good form to review the whole book, not just one chapter or even one page. So, before my descent into bad reviewing form, I'd like to say that this is a fine book about the Versailles Peace Conference, written by a grand-daughter of British Prime Minister David Lloyd George. When she tells you that French Prime Minister George Clemenceau during the conference once attempted to interest a young, newly-married daughter of DLG in a bunch of dirty po...more
What a fantastic read! I learned so much from MacMillan's intricate account of the time after the Great War. She relies on many historical facts and documents to weave an extremely detailed explanation of how the world was re-draw and the grave errors the BIG FOUR made and how those decisions are still reverberating today.

I knew little of the fallout of the Great War, save that there was a Treaty of Versailles. I knew the German reaction led to the fuelling of animosity and, eventually, the rise...more
One of the two best diplomatic histories I've ever read, second only to David Fromkin's The Peace to End All Peace (also, and probably not altogether coincidently, about the arrogance of the Great Powers and the outcome of WWI). The largely tragic ramifications of the Treaty of Versailles are of course well know, but MacMillan does a masterful job of laying out the process by which the treaty was formed, exploring the complexities -- geographic, political, ethnic -- that faced the victors in red...more
Tophats outfox other tophats at six-month soiree. (Most cover designs for this have the Big Three in friggin’ tophats!)

Same vibe here as with Yergin’s The Prize: presentation of personalities during epochal events. It’s not exactly a defect, and, for the novice (I.e., me) it’s good to have snappy biographical vignettes on all of the human capital of the conference (not just Wilson, Clemenceau, Lloyd George, but also Balfour, Curzon, Pilsudski, Ataturk, Venizelos, Benes, and so on). Portrait of L...more
This is pretty good - well written, structured, no noticeable weird ideological quirks, good balance of anecdotes and data, etc, etc. On the other hand, the book seems to be more concerned with what's important than what is interesting, at least for my particular interests. There's a great deal about the, well, really big important decisions and failures and successes, focusing on Poland, Austro-Hungary, Ottomans, Germany, etc, and some about the League of Nations and all that.

I think the point...more
Eric Althoff
A fascinating history lesson for buffs or novices alike, "Paris 1919" recounts--in always interesting but sometimes overly exposed detail--the Paris Peace Conference and how it shaped the broken European landscape (and indeed, much of the world) after The War to End All Wars. By turns fascinating and flustering--knowing what we know now--MacMillan skillfully creates a narrative from cold, hard facts and brings the personalities of the American, French, British and various other politicos who tri...more
Jeni Enjaian
I really enjoyed this book. Having studied the portrayal by the New York Times of the Armenian Genocide, I was aware of the Paris Peace Conference and its inaction concerning the "Armenian Question." That, unfortunately, summed up my limited knowledge of the Peace Conference. This book greatly expanded my knowledge and increased my hunger to learn more about WWI including the causes, events, historical actors and aftermath.
This book was incredibly detailed but comprehensible to almost anyone wi...more
Jill Hutchinson
I took this book to the beach, which was a mistake. This is not a history to read while surrounded by conversation and general mayhem!!! I finished it when I returned from vacation in the quiet of my home. This history of the Versailles Treaty takes concentration and reflection as it outlines, in detail, the machinations of France, Britain, Italy (sporadic at best) and the United States, as they struggled to author a treaty which was impossible to create.

Countries and colonies were moved like ch...more
Margaret MacMillan has done a decent job in identifying and cataloging the events that occurred through out Europe in 1919. However, she falls into the same pit that is evidenced by many European historians who write for the average audience.

Her research is impeccable, but there is little analysis as to how these events actually changed the world other than the occasional one liner. The events are not really tied together by an idea as much as just giving events in a timeline. Perhaps this is n...more
Excellent revionist account of the peacemakers at Versailles, that chronicles a fascinating time in European history. One of the great things about this readable book is that for what can be a heavy historical subject is dealt with is the amount of detail and not overloading the read with irrelevant information.

An important read for the background to some of the problems that happened in Europe pre-1939. There are also some great descriptive pieces in this book. An important book for students of...more
“We can learn from history, but we can also deceive ourselves when we selectively take evidence from the past to justify what we have already made up our minds to do.” ― Margaret MacMillan

It was 1919 and the Great War had ended the previous year when, from January to June, the leaders of Britain, France, Italy and the United States met in Paris to decide the outcome of the war they had just won against the Central Powers. This would be difficult, for the Great War of 1914-18 had seen the disappe...more
Cym Lowell
Why is our world in such a mess today? Why do we have constant political problems in Israel-Palestine, in the Balkans, in Iraq and the Middle East, between the U.S. and France, and so on?

Are these issues a result of events happening today or yesterday?

All of these issues, and many others, are in one way or another tied to the resolution of World War I, which was, historians tell us, triggered by the assassination of an Austrian prince in Sarajevo. The Germans and the Austria-Hungarians then comm...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Feb 23, 2013 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: Ultimate Reading List
I rarely give out five stars--that's deliberate--but this is so illuminating on a complex topic without being dry, I think it deserves full marks. The book treats of "six months that changed the world"--the Paris Peace Conference that produced the Treaty of Versailles. I was taught in high school that the vindictive terms of that treaty were ruinous to Germany and at the root of Hitler's rise and the outbreak of World War II. It was a view popularized by John Maynard Keynes (who was involved in...more
Though this book is thoroughly researched and a good place to go and hunt information for writing of your own, the book is academically lazy. The author simply makes no argument. It is merely a narrative of the entire peace conference punctuated here and there by sordid gossip, 99% of which had absoluetly nothing to do with the peace and that's all. The thesis statement of the book was that the supposedly harsh settlement imposed upon Germany wasn't harsh at all and it wasn't a cause of WW2 as t...more
I started this book unsure how objective the author could be, given that she is a descendant of one of the principals of Paris 1919, but I was pleasantly surprised. Margaret MacMillan seems to be very even-handed in her treatment of the men who came to make peace. I am not normally a fan of history books that deal with their topics thematically, rather than chronologically. However, in this case, it works, as the whole proceedings seem to have been remarkably disorganized with a great many topic...more
Loring Wirbel
(This is a companion review to David Andelman's "A Shattered Peace," on my bookshelf.)

In reviewing the more recent "A Shattered Peace", I said that Andelman relied too much on sizzle, while Macmillan went for the steak. Since Margaret MacMillan is the great-granddaughter of David Lloyd George, one might expect that a comprehensive book like this would rely on personalities of the Big Four, and that it might be overly-sympathetic to Woodrow Wilson, Lloyd George, and Clemenceau. She does indeed re...more
Feb 08, 2009 Jim rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone with an inquiring mind
Recommended to Jim by: New York Times
Want to know how the world we know became the way it is? Then read this book. It all began in Paris in 1919, after the armistice that ended the First World War. Leaders of the four great powers met in Paris to hammer out the peace treaty and divide up the spoils of war.

Here you meet these leaders and learn about their political in-fighting, their personalities, and what they did when the others weren't looking. You learn about why Japan jumped into the war on the side of the allies and what she...more
Paris 1919 reviews the worldwide geopolitical situation in the aftermath of WWI. From Western Europe to Central Europe, the Balkans and Russia, from the Near East to the Far East, endless conflicts and national aspirations are examined through the lens of The Paris Peace Conference. The war and its resolution set the foundation for the rest of the century. Paris 1919 immensely improved my understanding of not just this period, but all of twentieth century history.

Detailing the meetings, infighti...more
Even if I wasn’t predisposed to an enjoyment of WWI history, I suspect I’d have enjoyed Margaret MacMillian’s (epic 500 page) account of the drafting of the Treaty of Versailles in Paris 1919. Elegant sentences and a keen sense of characterization make this history intensely readable. A decision to withhold judgment on the particular historical characters lends it credibility, in that no one person or country is blamed; rather, the combined effect of a complicated and contingent set of treaties,...more
Generally, I would think of a 500 page book on a peace treaty to be pretty tough going. But I found this book to be absolutely fascinating. Of course, the Treaty of Versailles that closed the first world war wasn’t just any peace treaty. It was an attempt at picking up the pieces of several shattered empires in order to divide up the land in ways that would reflect the “self determination” of individual people groups. Granted, these altruistic motives weren’t always carried out very successfully...more
This book is terrific. Written by the great granddaughter of British prime minister David Lloyd-George, who headed the British delegation in the peace talks after World War I, it not only sketches the fascinating personalities of the those who hammered out the Versailles Peace Treaty and the ill-fated League of Nations after World War I, but ends up giving a primer on the history of most European nations and China, India, Japan and the Middle East as well. If you want to see where problems still...more
Graham Mcmillan
First off, I am not related to the author. :-).
The book, or rather series of lectures, is very well organized land presented. I personally had no idea of the scope and breadth of the issues confronting post war Europe and the worldwide the Paris conference. Relatively scant attention is paid to Germany and the war reparations issues we everywhere else hear so much of. Instead the author focuses on the impact of the war in the Middle East, china, and the other European countries such as Italy, P...more
Paul Duggan
One cannot grasp the current geopolitical arrangements in this century without understanding the events described in this magnificent history. Nearly 100 years ago three giants - Woodrow Wilson, Georges Clemenceau and David Lloyd George - and their large staffs along with dozens of various others, met in Paris for six months and attempted to create a new world order.

As fast moving as a good novel, this volume traces the backgrounds, discussions and outcomes of the attempt to settle the Great War...more
This is a brilliantly conceived and written history of the peace conference that followed World War I. MacMillan brings an extensive cast of characters into sharp focus. While much of the narrative concerns Prime Minister Lloyd George, Prime Minister Clemenceau and President Wilson, the author sheds much light on peripheral, but no less interesting characters such as Venizelos of Greece and Orlando of Italy. Equally valuable are the stories of when the peace conference tried to deal with the tho...more
One hundred years ago today Gavrilo Princip shot and killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophia as they drove through Sarajevo. That the assassination was pulled off by Princip and his bungling band of conspirators was itself nothing short of amazing, and would provided the final push to send a teetering Europe into war.

Ninety-five years ago today, the Germans signed the Treaty of Versailles, ending one of the most barbaric and senseless conflicts the world has known. In Pari...more
This book illustrates perfectly how the future course of the 20th Century was shaped by the decisions made by the victors of the First World War. The Versailles conference at the end of the was was meant to provide the road map for a peaceful and democratic Europe following the conflict that engulfed Europe. Inevitably, perhaps, the three biggest of the Allies, the USA, Britain and France had differing objectives for the conference. France wanted its old enemy Germany to pay through the nose for...more
John Kaufmann
Excellent rendition of peace talks divvying up the world after the Great War (World War I). Perhaps it is appropriate to say "exhaustive," or "definitive." From reparations to France and England, to Italy's attempt to claim some of the spoils, to Wilson's League of Nations (hint: it wasn't a shoo-in), to the carving up of the Ottoman Empire, to the formation Poland, Hungary, Yugoslavia, to what was going on with the Civil War in Russia at the time (aided and abetted by several of the Paris parti...more
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Margaret Olwen MacMillan OC D.Phil. (born 1943) is a historian and professor at Oxford University where she is Warden of St. Antony's College. She is former provost of Trinity College and professor of history at the University of Toronto. A well-respected expert on history and current affairs, MacMillan is a frequent commentator in the media.


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