Richard's Reviews > To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918

To End All Wars by Adam Hochschild
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's review
Jul 14, 11

bookshelves: 2011
Read from July 10 to 14, 2011

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 little has changed from then to our war in Iraq, and all the wars that precede this history. Human beings love killing other human beings. Sad but true, the ants in the colony go marching along... And equally sad that the good the anti-war movement attempted didn't mitigate for the sheer horror of the militarists - working class, officer class, ruling class.

My initial reactions to this unbelievable history were in the line of "hmmm," or "that's interesting;" until those reactions quickly changed to "oh, my," then "oh my god," to "Jesus Christ!", to "God damn it!" In the course of reading I was startled, angry, and depressed, until upon finishing the book I finally felt a combination of sadness and awe.

Nothing good comes of war - never has, never will - don't be fooled again.

Please see the goodreads review written by Ivan Fiesig for an excellent take on "To End All Wars..."
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Reading Progress

07/10/2011 page 214
48.0% ""Seldom, in this war, did one side have a monopoly on folly.""

Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by Patricia (new)

Patricia I read most of The Long, Long Way by Sebastian Barry, a novelist whom I admire a great deal. I couldn't finish it because of the graphic nature of his descriptions; his book is used in history courses of the era because it gives such a good description of what actually happened. Bloody awful.

It's also an interesting book because of the unique dilemma of the Irish soldiers--fighting for the Brits against the Germans while being shot by the Brits at home.

Richard I've been bitten by the WWI bug, and just watched Kubrick's Paths of Glory. One of the court martialed soldiers suffered a fractured skull and is in a near coma. When they execute him (firing squad) they tie his stretcher to the post so he's standing up to receive his medicine. When James Connolly (Easter Uprising) was executed he had been so tortured that he couldn't stand, so the Brits tied him to a chair before they shot him.

I've just started All Quiet on the Western Front. Somehow missed it in my youth. Chilling. Belongs on the same shelf as Heart of Darkness.

We just booked our Oct. tickets to Santa Fe!!!

message 3: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Yay!
Try The Long, Long Way, especially if you haven't read Barry...but someplace in the back of mind, I think you read The Secret Scripture or Annie Dunne.

Richard I tried Eneas McNulty but didn't get far with it. Just put a hold on Long, Long Way.

message 5: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Eneas McNulty is best read after the other two I mentioned. It takes different point of view from The Secret Scripture, and it's interesting to contemplate what the truth might be since they don't overlap much.

Richard Patricia wrote: "Eneas McNulty is best read after the other two I mentioned. It takes different point of view from The Secret Scripture, and it's interesting to contemplate what the truth might be since they don't ..."

About 2/3 through The Long, Long Way. Gorgeous prose, bloody tale, but not as devastating as All Quiet on the Western Front, which I finished last week. I'm going to read one more WW1 history, then I think I have to get out of the trenches. But then, there are those Pat Barker books: "Regeneration" and etc... this happened to me with the Civil War, I got started and then got lost, and didn't manage to extricate myself until I'd spent hundreds of dollars, and countless hours, with no one to talk to about it all.

message 7: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Yes, it's great to have a reading buddy.

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