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

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  8,006 ratings  ·  660 reviews
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 opposition to the wa ...more
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published May 3rd 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Boston/NY) (first published May 1st 2011)
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Len Knighton This is a book that tells a different story of World War One, a story that needs to be told and read. Nations remember those who fell in battle. Let u…moreThis is a book that tells a different story of World War One, a story that needs to be told and read. Nations remember those who fell in battle. Let us also remember the men and women who rose up against war. Perhaps the voice of this teenager will one day be the voice of reason that prevents the mass destruction of humanity. May he/she learn from the past through this book that these mistakes not be repeated in the future. (less)
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L Fleisig
May 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
"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
A book that brilliantly succeeds in finding a new way to talk about the First World War, by looking at the protesters and conscientious objectors who opposed it along the way. I must admit, in my head antiwar protests started sometime around the 60s with Vietnam; but it turns out that the British peace movement during 1914–18 is one of the most impressive in history.

So riveting are many of the details here that you end up feeling amazed and annoyed that they aren't included in more general histo
May 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 21-ce, war, uk, ww-i, history
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
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
Apr 01, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Diane Barnes
Aug 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: world-war-one
Immediately upon finishing this book, I gave it 4 stars; however, now that I think about my review, I'm upping it to 5. I'm not normally a "history reader" as such, preferring to get my impressions from fiction and memoirs, but as a member of the World War I group, I felt I needed some facts and timelines. Adam Hochschild did what all good teachers should do, he made his subject come alive.
He did this in two ways. First, by combining the stories of the conscientious objectors and demonstrators a
Erik Graff
Oct 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anglo-Americans
Recommended to Erik by: Phil Kosov
Shelves: history
King Leopold's Ghost was good. This is better. I don't often give five stars nowadays.
Unlike most histories of the English involvement in World War I, Hochschild gives equal time to those who resisted it. Thus, in addition to such incompetent warlords as British Generals French and Haig, one is introduced to such courageous heroes as Charlotte Despard, Emily Hobhouse, Keir Hardie, Sylvia Pankhurst and the Wheeldon family. One is also given something of the context of the war, ranging from the b
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
Elizabeth (Alaska)
Hochschild intends to present two sides to this war: that of combatants and that of war protesters. While other countries cannot be excluded, he focuses almost exclusively on Britain. He starts with giving us the prewar environment and introduces us to the main participants. The next five parts are the war years, one part for each calendar year. In the final part is the Treaty and what happens in the lives of the major participants beyond.

Those of us who remember only Vietnam to the present were
Dec 10, 2016 rated it liked it
The height of human folly, waste, idiocy. This is what WWI represents to me. It is a war that endlessly fascinates me, an infinite surreal grand tragedy that yielded so little for the actors, except it laid the seeds for what could be considered an even grander tragedy for the world (the Nazis). It laid waste to a whole generation, with the cultural, intellectual, and economic capital of the great European powers going up in smoke.

I think there are soooo many lessons that can be drawn from WWI,
Jill Hutchinson
Sep 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
'Aussie Rick'
Nov 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military-history, ww1
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
Matt Johnson
Feb 28, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Dec 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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May 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Very well written. I would highly recommend for those interested in studying a different aspect of WW1. I would award 4.5 stars if possible.
May 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-war-i
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
Jan 16, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: european-history
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
Oct 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hist-misc
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
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In recent years, I have read quite a number of good World War II books, but have remained largely ignorant of World War I. I started one WWI book several times, but found it sleep-inducing, which is not a good quality in a book you are listening to while driving.

I stumbled on this work published in 2011 and decided to give it a try, and I was richly rewarded.

Rather than focusing on the intricacies of the complicated international dynamics that led to the War, Hochschild focuses on the war from
Florence Millo
Apr 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
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
Jun 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
Feb 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
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
May 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: documentary, 2014
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
Mike Clinton
Jul 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Everyone today regards the Great War of 1914-1908 as the tragically destructive result of deeply flawed ideas and institutions. Hochschild writes about those (mostly in Great Britain) who knew it to be so at the time, risking their freedom, reputations, and health to act out against the war. Because he writes so well, bringing back more sharply into view through revealing anecdotes about their lives, beliefs, and actions people long dead, Hochschild's book has compellingly returned these conscie ...more
A refreshing book!

I've read too much WWI-revisionism lately, so it is heartening to see someone pick up diligently that contrary to what so many revisionist historians want to tell us, the British public and the soldiers themselves by no means were oblivious to the disastrous management of the war and its not exactly so clearcut and humane background as per allied interests.

Much recommended!
Ted Haussman
Apr 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A really wonderful book that is not a military history as much as a book about some of the key British protagonists and antagonists in the struggle. It recounts not only the efforts of those directing the struggle but those resisting and protesting it. The overall subtextual question is: was it all worth it? Certainly, misguided tactics that failed to recognize the realities of “industrialized warfare” led to many more losses than were necessary. And while some have argued that the fight was nec ...more
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An astonishing rendition of WWI. Unlike my expectations the book covers stories of various war dissenters in British Isles and various parts of Europe and USA who were in war. The book establishes a strong connection between the WWI and its causes, like Bolshevism, Communism, Nazism, Fascism, Holocaust, Indian Independence and end of apartheid.

Unlike, say, witch-burning, slavery, and apartheid, which were once taken for granted and are now officially outlawed, war is still with us
Jul 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Immensely readable and informative book about WWI which captured for me the social tenor of the times in England--unions, suffragettes, pacifism, communism. Also some insight into the conditions for ordinary people in Germany hit by the deprivations resulting from wartime. Lots of time was spent in the trenches too (British mainly), the ordinary soldiers dying by the thousands or suffering horrendous injuries as a result of outmoded war strategies ineffective against barbed wire on the Western F ...more
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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

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“Unlike, say, witch-burning, slavery, and apartheid, which were once taken for granted and are now officially outlawed, war is still with us.” 6 likes
“For several years now, Kipling had been sprinkling his prose and poetry with anti-German barbs. He believed this war would do “untold good” for his beloved British tommies, preparing them for the inevitable clash with Germany. The Boer War, said a character in a story he wrote at the time, was “a first-class dress-parade for Armageddon.” 2 likes
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