Joris Luyendijk shows the weakness of foreign correspondents in the Middle East. In countries with hardly any room for independent public opinion, lac...moreJoris Luyendijk shows the weakness of foreign correspondents in the Middle East. In countries with hardly any room for independent public opinion, lacking social scientific research or even opinion polls, if not controlled by security services, how could the foreign correspondent really know what people feel?
And when you cover such a large and diverse region, you end up doing a standup from your hotel roof 30 minutes after you'd flown in based on nothing more than what you got from the newsroom and a quick chat with your taxi driver on the way in from the airport. (less)
A look at the German army and how it's experiences in South Western Africa and the primacy of military reasoning resulted in brutal behaviour by Germa...moreA look at the German army and how it's experiences in South Western Africa and the primacy of military reasoning resulted in brutal behaviour by German forces in WWI and disregard for the needs of the civilian population at home.(less)
Zuber claims there never was a Schlieffen Plan and that Germany stumbled into war with plans that had been changing considerably before 1914 and not a...moreZuber claims there never was a Schlieffen Plan and that Germany stumbled into war with plans that had been changing considerably before 1914 and not all been tested in wargames. Also a lot of stuff on the intelligence reports on French and Russian build up.(less)
good introduction to the politics and social history of Germany in WWI
Managed to get through most of Chickering on the way back in the Eurostar. Inter...moregood introduction to the politics and social history of Germany in WWI
Managed to get through most of Chickering on the way back in the Eurostar. Interesting to see that the Social Democrats implicated themselves fully with the autocratic rulers, so that by 1917 the left wing (later the Communists) broke away. The strike movement against the war (and for social change) therefore occurred outside the control of the SPD and the labour unions. Which is something to bear in mind for the game. The SPD can choose to break away from the Burgfriede and put itself at the head of the antiwar movement.(less)
Machines, women, speed and sex: a rather bourgeois look at the opening of the 20th century
What if World War One hadn't happened and we looked back on...moreMachines, women, speed and sex: a rather bourgeois look at the opening of the 20th century
What if World War One hadn't happened and we looked back on the preceding 15 years without the shadows of that conflict cast over it? Almost like those that lived through it might have seen it. What was on their minds?
Rather than covering the tracks of political, economic and social histories of the start of the 20th century, Blom tries to picture the state of mind of Europe. And for this he picks the dynamo to symbolise the energy of the age.
According to Blom it all comes down to machines, women, speed and sex. The new technology, women claiming their part in the world (and the insecurities the new age inspires in men), the quest for speed and action and the effect it has on nerves and finally the struggle with Victorian views on sex.
The book is very readable, especially as it skims difficult theoretical bits and sticks to an impressionistic approach. Easily skipping from biography to anecdote to the broader social framework, Blom remains firmly in charge of direction.
This avoids uneasy questions, like how many people actually knew about most of the artists and scientists mentioned in this book? Did British labourers and Russian peasants worry about the state of the world, the rapid development of technology and sexual liberation? Many of these things probably didn't matter to the noble elites either. Dare I say that this is a very bourgeois history of this period? Not that there's anything wrong with that in principle, just that the state of mind that Blom is descibing is applicable only to a limited part of the European population.
(And in line with that an easy criticism: the book focusses on Germany, France, Britain, Russia and Austria. How relevant is their experience for the smaller states?)
But even when avoiding the events leading up to the battles of the Marne and Tannenberg in september 1914, it is hard to escape the teleological trap. In his choice of avant garde artists, Blom still sticks to those that became part of the canon later. Where are the promising artists that didn't make it (either through lack of success, personal problems or death on the battlefield)? Likewise, what unfulfilled promises lay in wait in society?
How important is it to avoid WWI when looking at the periode 1900-1914? How much discontinuity is there in WWI anyway to many of the subjects above? The war sped up technological developments, the emancipation of women and the freeing up of social mores. Today's society is even more frantic than that of 1913. At best our attitudes towards the developments have changed. We no longer worry that much about the degeneration of mankind in neurasthenic disorders.
Which leads me to my final point. In many cases I just couldn't help drawing parallels between the first decade of the 20th and 21st centuries. The speed of innovation in electricity and combustion engines then had a similar impact to that of automatisation today. The rapid spread of sports clubs, cinema and department stores, the mass ownership of technological gadgets like photo cameras and watches. How does that compare to iPhones and internet? Instead of creating new mass experiences (like sports stadiums and cinema's) later innovations have indivivualised technology, first through television, and now allows individuals to reconnect through social media.
But it is sobering to know that worries about the psychological state of humanity is at least a century old, that media were as obsessed by the private lives of stars (Sarah Bernhardt) and scandalous court cases (Henriette Caillaux) as today, that mystics and charlatans already had wide followings (Madame Blavatsky), that the male ego has been having serious trouble adjusting itself to female assertion all this time, that an international campaign to stop slavery and brutal exploitation in the Belgian Congo succeeded in 1908 and that most of the basic elements of the atomic and evolution theory were in place by then. Despite so much change in the last 100 years, it looks so much more familiar to us than the world of 1815. (less)
provides a coherent overview of the 48 years of the second German empire, with the second part of the book devoted to specialised subjects like the co...moreprovides a coherent overview of the 48 years of the second German empire, with the second part of the book devoted to specialised subjects like the constitution, feminism, militarism and the link between interest organisations and political parties. Reads very easily.(less)