Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Story Behind the Greatest War...

History may not be your favorite subject, but I am sure that you understand its importance...

...it teaches us what not to recreate and what to avoid in our future endeavors. History is comprised of a series of lessons, each based in the actions and beliefs of those at the center of conflict or change (or stagnation, as the case may be) in any given era. History has much to teach us.

That begins to explain the importance of To End All Wars, the newest release from Adam Hochschild, an accomplished author and activist, which involves an investigation of World War I from a vantage point drastically different from your average history textbook. This work delves into territory beyond the blood and brutality of that early twentieth century war-time period. It explores with great intensity the personal struggles of both rebellious pacifists and militant supporters, each fighting for a cause in which they passionately believe.

To End All Wars is not a collection of figures, statistics and strategies of engagement. Rather, it is an accurate portrait of the characters and personalities behind the conflict, as well as those in its midst. This is a very real and very human vantage point that has great relevance in our own time. Hochschild's book, as a historical depiction of World War I, is by no means deficient, nor is it discrepant. It is, however, different from the writing (on this subject) that precedes it, for To End All Wars is less an account of a historical event or period and more an account of human struggle backed by strong values and loyalties. The suffering that was so much a part of this period is captured in living, active non-fiction. It is a story, I am sure, that Hochschild felt needed to be told.

To End All Wars would make an excellent addition to any history lover's bookshelf, but readers of general non-fiction will also gain a lot from this reading, even if they have no particular interest in the specific period. Of course, those obsessed with World War I will absolutely enjoy every page of this excellent, well-written exploration of the people at the center of a conflict so devastating and far-reaching that it was called “the war to end all wars.”

No comments: