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THE FIRST WORLD WAR > 3. THE FIRST WORLD WAR ~ CHAPTER 4 (71- 137) (03/08/10 - 03/14/10) ~ No spoilers, please

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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 31, 2010 05:02PM) (new)

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
Hello Everyone,

This begins the third week's reading in our Spotlighted group discussion of The First World War by John Keegan

The complete table of contents is as follows:

List of Maps ix
List of Illustrations xi
Acknowledgments xv

ONE: A European Tragedy p.3
TWO: War Plans p.24
THREE: The Crisis of 1914 p.48
FOUR: The Battle of the Frontiers and the Marne p.71
FIVE: Victory and Defeat in the East p.138
SIX: Stalemate p.175
SEVEN: The War Beyond the Western Front p.204
EIGHT: The Year of Battles p. 257
NINE: The Breaking of Armies p. 309
TEN: America and Armageddon p. 372

Notes: p. 429
Bibliography p. 449
Index p. 457


The assignment for this week includes the following segments/pages:

Week Three - March 8th - March 14th -> Chapter FOUR. p. 71 -137
FOUR - The Battle of the Frontiers and the Marne


We look forward to your participation; but remember this is a non spoiler thread.

We will open up threads for each week's reading. Please make sure to post in the particular thread dedicated to those specific chapters and page numbers to avoid spoilers.

This book was kicked off on February 21st. This will be the third week's assignment for this book.

We look forward to your participation. Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other noted on line booksellers do have copies of the book and shipment can be expedited. The book can also be obtained easily at your local library.

A special welcome to those who will be newcomers to this discussion and thank you to those who have actively contributed on the previous Spotlighted book selection. We are glad to have you all.

This thread officially begins today March 8th.


Welcome,

~Bentley

TO ALWAYS SEE ALL WEEKS' THREADS SELECT VIEW ALL

The First World War by John Keegan John Keegan


message 2: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 08, 2010 09:09AM) (new)

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
Last night, Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman in the history of the Academy Awards to win the best director trophy, as her tension-filled Iraq war drama The Hurt Locker collected six prizes.

There was an article on BBC which caught my attention especially these paragraphs:

"Critics were gripped by the "convincingly blunt" action sequences and Bigelow's "penetrating study of heroism", but several criticised the decision not to take an ideological viewpoint on the Iraq War.

Bigelow contended the film was "not a documentary", maintaining that her intention was to highlight the plight of soldiers in a war she felt had been "under-reported" in the US media.

She added that the script was informed by war correspondent Chris Hedges' polemic War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning - which argues that war seduces entire societies, like a powerful drug.

As a director, Bigelow is no stranger to such moral ambiguity.


Was World War I such a war...one which seduced entire societies like a powerful drug? Were entire societies so enveloped and how were they? What was the moral ambiguity in World War I? And for whom?

Source: BBC

The full article is below:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainm...


message 3: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)


message 4: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 08, 2010 08:54AM) (new)

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
This is a video from the University of California which features Chris Hedges:

War is a Force that Gives us Meaning with Chris Hedges

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2SaM8...

Chris Hedges in his writing discovers the psychological effects of war. Some of his images are stark and unforgiving. This video also discusses how millions of people can be seduced by war.

This is a thought-provoking lecture based on his best selling book that argues life is lived most intensely in times of war, often with tragic consequences. This video might be controversial for some or many or a few. But I thought it had some parallels about war and wars in general from the Athenians to the present day. Do you see any parallels with World War I and were there any signs of the seduction of war in that conflict? I believe that Hedges seems to profess that there is a connective thread in the fabric of war in many if not all conflicts.

Was World War I in particular morally ambiguous? Were the men who died those impossible and horrible deaths courageous heroes but at the same time victims of their own country's leaders' poor and flawed decisions? Hedges does ask some very uncomfortable questions about war in general even though he appears to be talking about the wars that he specifically covered. Could the crisis have been averted by other different decisions (World War I)?


message 5: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
In terms of Keegan's discussion of the Battle of the Frontiers and the Marne, what surprised you the most? Either in terms of Keegan's interpretation and analysis and/or about the battles themselves?


message 6: by Patricrk (new)

Patricrk patrick | 435 comments Bentley wrote: "In terms of Keegan's discussion of the Battle of the Frontiers and the Marne, what surprised you the most? Either in terms of Keegan's interpretation and analysis and/or about the battles themselves?" I was surprised by the armies being commanded by Crown Princes and Dukes. I always thought of the Germans as being more professional in their leadership. The casualty count in this segment of the fighting is terrible. The US had 47,000 killed in all the years of fighting in Vietnam. To loose this many in 4 months and still keep on fighting is amazing. The US army in 1914 had 98,000 men. The number of French commanders relieved during this time frame also surprised me. It goes to show that who makes a good peace time officer isn't necessarily who you want during War.


message 7: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
Some very true statements Patricrk. Even when I think of 47,000 I think that is way too many men. After reading this chapter, it shows me that Chris Hedges was on to something.


message 8: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 08, 2010 08:22PM) (new)

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
"Statesmen were filled with foreboding by the coming of the war but its declaration was greeted with enormous popular enthusiasm in the capitals of all combatant countries. Crowds thronged the streets, shouting, cheering and singing patriotic songs. In St. Petersburg the French ambassador, Maurice Paleologue, found his way into the Winter Palace Square, "where an enormous crowd had congregated with flags, banners, icons, and portraits of the Tsar. The Emperor appeared on the balcony. The entire crowd at once knelt and sang the Russian national anthem."

Page 71

If ever I saw a passage which sounds like Hedges' philosophy in the making it is this one. Was War the force that gave these people meaning? There was profound imperialism, nationalism and militarism present at this time. Which countries showed each one of these and in what way? What is your definition of militarism, imperialism and nationalism?


message 9: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 09, 2010 10:51AM) (new)

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
The French ambassador Maurice Paleologue is mentioned:

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Maurice Paléologue (January 13, 1859—November 18, 1944) was a French diplomat, historian, and essayist.

Paléologue was born in Paris as the son of Alexandru Paleologu, a Wallachian Romanian revolutionary who had fled to France after attempting to assassinate Prince Gheorghe Bibescu during the 1848 Wallachian revolution; Alexandru was one of three illegitimate children of Elisabeta Văcărescu of the Văcărescu family of boyars - he and his siblings were later adopted by Zoe Văcărescu, Elisabeta's mother, who gave the children her maiden name Paleologu. The name became Paléologue in French language spellings; the family's relation to the Palaiologos Byzantines is doubtful (Alexandru's ancestors first claimed it at the end of the 17th century).

After graduating in Law, Maurice Paléologue obtained an office at the French Foreign Ministry in 1880, and moved on to become Embassy Secretary at Tangiers, in the Morocco Protectorate, then in Beijing (Qing China), and later in Italy.

A Minister Plenipotentiary in 1901, he represented France in Bulgaria (1907-1912) and Imperial Russia (1914), and moved on to become General Secretary of the Foreign Ministry in the Alexandre Millerand cabinet.

At the same time, Paléologue published essays and novels, and wrote contributions for the Revue des deux mondes. He also wrote several works on the history of Russia in the wake of World War I, which included an intimate portrait of the last Tsaritsa Alexandra Fyodorovna (he had been present at meetings between her and Grigori Rasputin, among others). He was called on to give his testimony during the Dreyfus Affair, and left important notes on the topic.

Paléologue was elected a member of the Académie française in 1928. He died in Paris a few months after the city's liberation during World War II.


Source: Wikipedia


message 10: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 09, 2010 10:56AM) (new)

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
Further, the Kaiser appeared on the palace balcony and talked about "envious people". Were there envious people trying to force his hand or was this just a ploy to use with the populace:

A fateful hour has fallen upon Germany. Envious people on all sides are compelling us to resort to a just defence. The sword is being forced into our hands...And now I command you to go to church, kneel before God and pray to him to help our gallant army.

It is is amazing how everybody who goes to war tries to bring religion into the act and decision. What do you think about the above?

Page 71


message 11: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
There are some good pictures between 110 and 111.

Be sure to note the maps on pages 114, 124 and 125


message 12: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 09, 2010 11:27AM) (new)

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
This is quite a meaty chapter with many subsections:

The Battle of the Frontiers and the Marne - page 71 - first page of Chapter Four

Subsection: The Battle of the Frontiers - page 89
Subsection: The Battle of the Sambre - page 94
Subsection: The Battle of Mons - page 97
Subsection: The Great Retreat - page 100
Subsection: The Battle of the Marne - 112
Subsection: The Mission of Lieuenant-Colonel Hensch - page 120
Subsection: The First Battle of Ypres - page 129

I will set up subsections for the battles Frontiers, Sambre, Mons, Marne, Ypres.


message 13: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Bentley wrote: "Further, the Kaiser appeared on the palace balcony and talked about "envious people". Were there envious people trying to force his hand or was this just a ploy to use with the populace:

A fatefu..."


It seems debatable who "started" WWI, and I think that is one of the more difficult things about it. Everybody seems to have at least some strong argument why they were pushed into it. Whereas with WWII it was a little more clear-cut as to who started it and why.

When you are motivating your troops and your people for the fight, you have to give them a reason to make these big sacrifices. And let's not kid ourselves, war is a big sacrifice for everyone. The common people (and soldiers) aren't as motivated by let's-make-our-country-400-acres-larger type arguments. But no one likes to be pushed around, most people are willing to defend themselves. And so those are the more effective arguments.

It also helps to have God "on your side," of course, for several reasons. In some situations it is nice to use some deity as reason for war, whether it is "the devil made me do it" or "God commanded us." Plus positive thinking and faith can inspire soldiers and people to go beyond their natural ability. And surely the knowledge that deity is fighting for you would strengthen that positive thinking and faith.

It is interesting that I'm liking the Kaiser more than I expected I would. I guess I'd always thought of him as mild-Hitler type bad-guy who was gung-ho to take over Europe. Not that I like the Kaiser, but I'm surprised to see a man who wasn't really trying to make the war happen (although some in Germany did seem to be) and a man telling his people to pray. Of course the prayer command could be more of a manipulation technique than a sincere desire to petition deity for help. Others of you are probably in a better position to judge that than I am.


message 14: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
Yes, Elizabeth the debate seem to go on about who or what started WWI.

War is a very big sacrifice for everyone. Very true, no country likes to be pushed around.

I agree that it is better to have God on your side than not. But it just seems ludicrous that God would be on everybody's side even adversaries. My view of God is not a war faring one; but maybe I am wrong.

The Kaiser has certainly come off better in this book than I was expecting. I also feel that the people were being manipulated.

An excellent post Elizabeth.


message 15: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments In no way do I want to get bogged down in a side-tracked religious discussion. However, I would like to agree with Bentley that I believe God is a God of peace. It is hard to reconcile people on both sides of a war believing they are fighting for God. Or at least with God's blessing.

I haven't gotten very far with this week's reading yet. (Usually I finish at the beginning of the week.) After three chapters of overview and general strategy and politics, the death and my need for more maps (two separate issues!) is hitting me hard. Someday I'd like to read a book where every location mentioned in the text can be found on the maps given in the book. But even if I don't find everything, I am learning tons.


message 16: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
Elizabeth..very true this is by far the meatiest week for Keegan. I did warn the group that some good maps might be needed from the World War I timeframe. The ones that he does have are not that easy to understand and decipher because there aren't enough of them.


message 17: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Bentley wrote: "Elizabeth..very true this is by far the meatiest week for Keegan. I did warn the group that some good maps might be needed from the World War I timeframe. The ones that he does have are not that easy to understand and decipher because there aren't enough of them."

And they rely on virtually indistinguishable shades of gray to differentiate various things. And the lines between countries are not different enough from the rivers. And...

However, they are better than no maps at all! It helped once I figured out that the maps nearer the end of the chapter are also useful at the beginning.


message 18: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
Exactly...possibly there were colors used in the hardcover..not sure...but some editor did not do a good job when doing a check on the maps.

Correct but still terrible maps.


message 19: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) How is everyone going with Chapter 4; ‘The Battle of the Frontiers and the Marne’? An interesting period of the First World War, was this the end of the 'war of movement' and the start of trench warfare with trenches running from the sea to Switzerland?


message 20: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
It appeared that way Aussie Rick..this seems to me to be a transitional war in terms of warfare, military style and strategy as well as tactics and technology.


message 21: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments 'Aussie Rick' wrote: "How is everyone going with Chapter 4; ‘The Battle of the Frontiers and the Marne’? An interesting period of the First World War, was this the end of the 'war of movement' and the start of trench wa..."

I keep finding myself thinking as I read this book things like, "I knew in general that X happened, but I never knew all this underlying detail about it!" And yet I know Keegan is really not giving us a whole bunch of detail. I guess it just goes to show how little I know about The Great War. It really is the little sibling of WWII, and so often comparatively ignored.

I have read a number of historical fiction books that describe the trench warfare, the months of fighting over inches of ground. The setup for it, covered in Chapter 4, is amazing. I've often wondered how such a thing as trenches across entire countries would come about. Now I see it.

And the use of cavalry seems antiquated in the 20th century. I know that tanks were used in WWI. Keegan even mentions it specifically in this chapter as coming in a few years. But you see the generals still using cavalry as was done in the Civil War 50 years earlier. (I'm comparing with descriptions in Killer Angels.)

The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara by Michael Shaara

Overall, I guess I am saying I am learning tons. Thanks to everyone who voted for this book. Very enlightening.


message 22: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Can any of you military experts explain to me what "debouch into the enemy's rear and roll up his flank" (page 91) means?

I looked up "debouch" and learned it means to march out into open ground. And I know "flank" means the side. I'm having a harder time figuring the "roll up" part. I guess I don't know how to tell Google I want the military use of the term. :)


message 23: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments I really appreciate Keegan's little lessons about military strategy, such as his descriptions of the tricks of river fighting on page 95. And his interesting descriptions of the personal differences between the French and British commanders on page 103. (Isn't it ironically funny that French didn't speak French.) Also the comparisons with other wars, such as on page 102 where the French suffered 8,000 casualties, "more than Wellington's army at Waterloo." It helps keep the death from turning into mere numbers.

In general, I appreciate these touches from Keegan that help balance the blow by blow battle sequences.


message 24: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) Elizabeth S wrote: "Can any of you military experts explain to me what "debouch into the enemy's rear and roll up his flank" (page 91) means?

I looked up "debouch" and learned it means to march out into open ground. ..."


Hi Elizabeth,

Basically this means that one of the armies needs to piece the enemy’s front line and explode or fan out and to attack the flanks of the enemy line causing the line to crumple or roll upon itself like you roll a carpet up. Troops taken from the flank like this cannot resist effectively and it usually causes a panic plus the advancing troops have the added advantage of taking the enemy in enfilade fire causing maximum casualties.

Enfilade Fire


message 25: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments 'Aussie Rick' wrote: "Basically this means that one of the armies needs to piece the enemy’s front line and explode or fan out and to attack the flanks of the enemy line causing the line to crumple or roll upon itself like you roll a carpet up. Troops taken from the flank like this cannot resist effectively and it usually causes a panic plus the advancing troops have the added advantage of taking the enemy in enfilade fire causing maximum casualties."

Okay, this is helping more. I think I'm starting to get it. Not only do I need maps in this books, I also need diagrams of all these military formations and procedures, etc.


message 26: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
Very true Elizabeth and thank you Aussie Rick so much for the terrific explanation.


message 27: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) It's a bit basic but I suppose it gets the idea across, hopefully one of the readers out there may be able to offer a better and more succinct description?


message 28: by Vincent (new)

Vincent (vpbrancato) | 1245 comments Bentley wrote: "Exactly...possibly there were colors used in the hardcover..not sure...but some editor did not do a good job when doing a check on the maps.

Correct but still terrible maps."


Maps

I am reading the book with a somewhat comtempary 20th centruy map of France, Belgium, Germany and it is helping significantly.

One can see the rivers better etc.

It also makes me realize that beofe the war Mulhouse (Mulhausen then) and Metz were in Germany not France


message 29: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
Interesting regarding the boundaries and how they went back and forth in terms of who won the last skirmish, battle, war.


message 30: by Sera (new)

Sera | 145 comments I agree that it's imperative to have maps when reading this part of the book.

Keegan is kind to the Kaiser in this book. I thought in his attempt to come off as an objective, military historian, Keegan fails to get into the psyche of the country leaders during this time (at least from what I have read thus far). For example, the Kaisere is a bratty, arrogant man, and the Tsar was a weak, indecisive and ineffectual leader. For those of you who are interested in reading a book that narrates the relationships among the Kaiser, the Tsar and the King of England, check out:

King, Kaiser, Tsar Three Royal Cousins Who Led the World to War by Catrine Clay Catrine Clay

Clay uses the letters exchanged among these three cousins (yes, they were all related), as well as other first hand accounts, to narrate the events that preceded and ultimately, led up to the war.


message 31: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
That is a great add Sera and would add so much to Keegan's account. It is such a find when letters reveal the true intent of the people involved.


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