Catalogue


To end all wars : a story of loyalty and rebellion, 1914-1918 /
Adam Hochschild.
imprint
Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011.
description
xx, 448 p. : ill.
ISBN
0618758283 (hbk.), 9780618758289 (hbk.)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011.
isbn
0618758283 (hbk.)
9780618758289 (hbk.)
catalogue key
7600823
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Awards
This item was nominated for the following awards:
Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, USA, 2011 : Nominated
National Book Critics Circle Awards, USA, 2011 : Nominated
Excerpts
Flap Copy
st1:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } A page-turning, epic history of the modern era's most morally challenging war World War I stands as one of history's most senseless spasms of carnage, defying rational explanationand as a symbol of war's eternal insanity. Why did so many nations get so swept up in the violence? Why, over four long years of futility and carnage, couldn't cooler heads prevail? In a riveting, suspenseful narrative with haunting echoes for our own time, Adam Hochschild brings the war to life as never before. He focuses on the long-ignored moral drama of its critics, alongside its generals and heroes. Thrown in jail for their opposition to the war were Britain's leading investigative journalist, a future winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, and an editor who, behind bars, published a newspaper for his fellow inmates on toilet paper. These critics were sometimes intimately connected to their enemy hawks: one of Britain's most prominent women pacifist campaigners had a brother who was commander in chief on the Western Front. Two well-known sisters split so bitterly over the war that they ended up publishing newspapers that attacked each other. Today hundreds of military cemeteries spread across the fields of northern France and Belgium contain the bodies of millions of men who died in the "war to end all wars." Can we ever avoid repeating history?
First Chapter

An early autumn bite is in the air as a gold-tinged late afternoon falls over the rolling countryside of northern France. Where the land dips between gentle rises, it is already in shadow. Dotting the fields are machine-packed rolls, high as a person’s head, of the year’s final hay crop. Massive tractors pull boxcar-sized cartloads of potatoes, or corn chopped up for cattle feed. Up a low hill, a grove of trees screens the evidence of another kind of harvest, reaped on this spot nearly a century ago. Each gravestone in the small cemetery has a name, rank, and serial number; 162 have crosses, and one has a Star of David. When known, a man’s age is engraved on the stone as well: 19, 22, 23, 26, 34, 21, 20. Ten of the graves simply say, “A Soldier of the Great War, Known unto God.” Almost all the dead are from Britain’s Devonshire Regiment, the date on their gravestones July 1, 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Most were casualties of a single German machine gun several hundred yards from this spot, and were buried here in a section of the front-line trench they had climbed out of that morning. Captain Duncan Martin, 30, a company commander and an artist in civilian life, had made a clay model of the battlefield across which the British planned to attack. He predicted to his fellow officers the exact place at which he and his men would come under fire from the nearby German machine gun as they emerged onto an exposed hillside. He, too, is buried here, one of some 21,000 British soldiers killed or fatally wounded on the day of greatest bloodshed in the history of their country’s military, before or since.
 On a stone plaque next to the graves are the words this regiment’s survivors carved on a wooden sign when they buried their dead:

The devonshires held this trench
The devonshires hold it still
 
 The comments in the cemetery’s visitors’ book are almost all from England: Bournemouth, London, Hampshire, Devon. “Paid our respects to 3 of our townsfolk.” “Sleep on, boys.” “Lest we forget.” “Thanks, lads.” “Gt. Uncle thanks, rest in peace.” Why does it bring a lump to the throat to see words like sleep, rest, sacrifice, when my reason for being here is the belief that this war was needless folly and madness? Only one visitor strikes a different note: “Never again.” On a few pages the ink of the names and remarks has been smeared by raindrops — or was it tears?
 The bodies of soldiers of the British Empire lie in 400 cemeteries in the Somme battlefield region alone, a rough crescent of territory less than 20 miles long, but graves are not the only mark the war has made on the land. Here and there, a patch of ground gouged by thousands of shell craters has been left alone; decades of erosion have softened the scarring, but what was once a flat field now looks like rugged, grassed-over sand dunes. On the fields that have been smoothed out again, like those surrounding the Devonshires’ cemetery, some of the tractors have armor plating beneath the driver’s seat, because harvesting machinery cannot distinguish between potatoes, sugar beets, and live shells. More than 700 million artillery and mortar rounds were fired on the Western Front between 1914 and 1918, of which an estimated 15 percent failed to explode. Every year these leftover shells kill people — 36 in 1991 alone, for instance, when France excavated the track bed for a new high-speed rail line. Dotted throughout the region are patches of uncleared forest or scrub surrounded by yellow danger signs in French and English warning hikers away. The French government employs teams of démineurs, roving bomb-disposal specialists, who respond to calls when villagers discover shells; they collect and destroy 900 tons of unexploded munitions each year. More than 630 French démineurs have died in the line of duty since 1946. Like those shells, the First World War itself has remained in our lives, below the surface, because we live in a world that was so much formed by it and by the industrialized total warfare it inaugurated.
 Even though I was born long after it ended, the war always seemed a presence in our family. My mother would tell me about the wild enthusiasm of crowds at military parades when — at last! — the United States joined the Allies. A beloved first cousin of hers marched off to the sound of those cheers, to be killed in the final weeks of fighting; she never forgot the shock and disillusionment. And no one in my father’s family thought it absurd that two of his relatives had fought on opposite sides of the First World War, one in the French army, one in the German. If your country called, you went.
 My father’s sister married a man who fought for Russia in that war, and we owed his presence in our lives to events triggered by it: the Russian Revolution and the bitter civil war that followed — after which, finding himself on the losing side, he came to America. We shared a summer household with this aunt and uncle, and friends of his who were also veterans of 1914–1918 were regular visitors. As a boy, I vividly remember standing next to one of them, all of us in bathing suits and about to go swimming, and then looking down and seeing the man’s foot: all his toes had been sheared off by a German machine-gun bullet somewhere on the Eastern Front.
 The war also lived on in the illustrated adventure tales that British cousins sent me for Christmas. Young Tim or Tom or Trevor, though a mere teenager whom the colonel had declared too young for combat, would bravely dodge flying shrapnel to carry that same wounded colonel to safety after the regiment, bagpipes playing, had gone “over the top” into no man’s land. In later episodes, he always managed to find some way — as a spy or an aviator or through sheer boldness — around the deadlock of trench warfare.
 As I grew older and learned more history, I found that this very deadlock had its own fascination. For more than three years the armies on the Western Front were virtually locked in place, burrowed into trenches with dugouts sometimes 40 feet below ground, periodically emerging for terrible battles that gained at best a few miles of muddy, shell-blasted wasteland. The destructiveness of those battles still seems beyond belief. In addition to the dead, on the first day of the Somme offensive another 36,000 British troops were wounded. The magnitude of slaughter in the war’s entire span was beyond anything in European experience: more than 35 percent of all German men who were between the ages of 19 and 22 when the fighting broke out, for example, were killed in the next four and a half years, and many of the remainder grievously wounded. For France, the toll was proportionately even higher: one half of all Frenchmen aged 20 to 32 at the war’s outbreak were dead when it was over. “The Great War of 1914–18 lies like a band of scorched earth dividing that time from ours,” wrote the historian Barbara Tuchman. British stonemasons in Belgium were still at work carving the names of their nation’s missing onto memorials when the Germans invaded for the next war, more than 20 years later. Cities and towns in the armies’ path were reduced to jagged rubble, forests and farms to charred ruins. “This is not war,” a wounded soldier among Britain’s Indian troops wrote home from Europe. “It is the ending of the world.”

Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2011-04-15:
At the end of this book, Hochshild (narrative writing, Graduate Sch. of Journalism, Univ. of California, Berkeley; King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa) writes that if only one event of the 20th century could be "undone," it should be World War I; many readers will agree with this statement. Covering almost exclusively the British perspective, he here tells the story of World War I through the eyes of its most prominent supporters and detractors. Hochschild's own sympathies lie with the conscientious objectors, socialists, and pacifists who opposed the war but were drowned out by the general public, politicians, and generals. The author is at his best when he describes horrible ironies of the war, such as a Swiss-arranged trade of essential war materials between Great Britain and Germany so the governments could more efficiently send their own soldiers to be slaughtered. VERDICT This book shares a similar thesis with David Stevenson's Cataclysm: The First World War as Political Tragedy and will be appreciated by anyone interested in the history of World War I or the stories of war dissenters.-Michael Farrell, Reformed Theological Seminary Lib., Oviedo, FL (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2011-02-07:
WWI remains the quintessential war-unequaled in concentrated slaughter, patriotic fervor during the fighting, and bitter disillusion afterward, writes Hochschild. Many opposed it and historians mention this in passing, but Hochschild, winner of an L.A. Times Book Award for Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire's Slaves, has written an original, engrossing account that gives the war's opponents (largely English) prominent place. These mostly admirable activists include some veteran social reformers like the formidable Pankhursts, who led violent prosuffrage demonstrations from 1898 until 1914, and two members of which enthusiastically supported the war while one, Sylvia, opposed it, causing a permanent, bitter split. Sylvia worked with, and was probably the lover of, Keir Hardie, a Scotsman who rose from poverty to found the British Labor party. Except for Bertrand Russell, famous opponents are scarce because most supported the war. Hochschild vividly evokes the jingoism of even such leading men of letters as Kipling, Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, and John Galsworthy. By contrast, Hochschild paints equally vivid, painful portraits of now obscure civilians and soldiers who waged a bitter, often heroic, and, Hochschild admits, unsuccessful antiwar struggle. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Reviews
Review Quotes
"This is a book to make one feel deeply and painfully, and also to think hard."--Christopher Hitchens, New York Times Book Review "Hochschild brings fresh drama to the story, and explores it in provocative ways . . . Exemplary in all respects."--Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post "In this deeply moving history of the so-called Great War, those opposing its mindless folly receive equal billing with the politicians, generals, and propagandists obdurately insisting on its perpetuation. Implicit in Adam Hochschild's account is this chilling warning: once governments become captive of wars they purport to control, they turn next on their own people." Andrew J. Bacevich, author of Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War "Adam Hochschild is the rare historian who fuses deep scholarship with novelistic flair. In his hands, World War I becomes a clash not only of empires and armies, but of individuals: king and Kaiser, warriors and pacifists, coal miners and aristocrats. Epic yet human-scaled, this is history for buffs and novices alike, a stirring and provocative exploration of the Great War and the nature of war itself". Tony Horwitz, author of A Voyage Long and Strange "In prose as compelling as a masterful novel, Hochschild illuminates the lives of those who consigned millions to oblivion, and also introduces us to those who fiercely opposed the carnagethose who imagined, as we might, that the world could be otherwise. We emerge from this exemplary book with the knowledge that war is not inevitable, and those who work for its abolition inherit their dedication from sane men and women of great moral strength who recognized, as we must, that the future depended upon them. Hochschild's accomplishment, as a writer and historian, is formidable and inspiring." Carolyn Forche, editor of AGAINST FORGETTING: 20th Century Poetry of Witness "The lives of the author's many characters dovetail elegantly in this moving, accessible book...An ambitious narrative that presents a teeming worldview through intimate, human portraits." Kirkus Reviews "An original, engrossing account that gives the war's opponents (largely English) prominent place . . . Hochschild paints equally vivid, painful portraits of now obscure civilians and soldiers who waged a bitter, often heroic, and, Hochschild admits, unsuccessful antiwar struggle." Publishers Weekly , starred review
"In this deeply moving history of the so-called Great War, those opposing its mindless folly receive equal billing with the politicians, generals, and propagandists obdurately insisting on its perpetuation. Implicit in Adam Hochschild's account is this chilling warning: once governments become captive of wars they purport to control, they turn next on their own people."--Andrew J. Bacevich, author of Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War "Adam Hochschild is the rare historian who fuses deep scholarship with novelistic flair. In his hands, World War I becomes a clash not only of empires and armies, but of individuals: king and Kaiser, warriors and pacifists, coal miners and aristocrats. Epic yet human-scaled, this is history for buffs and novices alike, a stirring and provocative exploration of the Great War and the nature of war itself". -Tony Horwitz, author of A Voyage Long and Strange "The lives of the author's many characters dovetail elegantly in this moving, accessible book...An ambitious narrative that presents a teeming worldview through intimate, human portraits."- Kirkus Reviews "An original, engrossing account that gives the war's opponents (largely English) prominent place . . . Hochschild paints equally vivid, painful portraits of now obscure civilians and soldiers who waged a bitter, often heroic, and, Hochschild admits, unsuccessful antiwar struggle." -- Publishers Weekly , starred review
"In this deeply moving history of the so-called Great War, those opposing its mindless folly receive equal billing with the politicians, generals, and propagandists obdurately insisting on its perpetuation. Implicit in Adam Hochschild''s account is this chilling warning: once governments become captive of wars they purport to control, they turn next on their own people."--Andrew J. Bacevich, author of Washington Rules: America''s Path to Permanent War "Adam Hochschild is the rare historian who fuses deep scholarship with novelistic flair. In his hands, World War I becomes a clash not only of empires and armies, but of individuals: king and Kaiser, warriors and pacifists, coal miners and aristocrats. Epic yet human-scaled, this is history for buffs and novices alike, a stirring and provocative exploration of the Great War and the nature of war itself". -Tony Horwitz, author of A Voyage Long and Strange "In prose as compelling as a masterful novel, Hochschild illuminates the lives of those who consigned millions to oblivion, and also introduces us to those who fiercely opposed the carnage-those who imagined, as we might, that the world could be otherwise. We emerge from this exemplary book with the knowledge that war is not inevitable, and those who work for its abolition inherit their dedication from sane men and women of great moral strength who recognized, as we must, that the future depended upon them. Hochschild's accomplishment, as a writer and historian, is formidable and inspiring."- Carolyn Forché, editor of AGAINST FORGETTING: 20th Century Poetry of Witness "The lives of the author's many characters dovetail elegantly in this moving, accessible book...An ambitious narrative that presents a teeming worldview through intimate, human portraits."- Kirkus Reviews "An original, engrossing account that gives the war''s opponents (largely English) prominent place . . . Hochschild paints equally vivid, painful portraits of now obscure civilians and soldiers who waged a bitter, often heroic, and, Hochschild admits, unsuccessful antiwar struggle." -- Publishers Weekly , starred review "In this deeply moving history of the so-called Great War, those opposing its mindless folly receive equal billing with the politicians, generals, and propagandists obdurately insisting on its perpetuation. Implicit in Adam Hochschild''s account is this chilling warning: once governments become captive of wars they purport to control, they turn next on their own people." -- Andrew J. Bacevich, author of Washington Rules: America''s Path to Permanent War "Adam Hochschild is the rare historian who fuses deep scholarship with novelistic flair. In his hands, World War I becomes a clash not only of empires and armies, but of individuals: king and Kaiser, warriors and pacifists, coal miners and aristocrats. Epic yet human-scaled, this is history for buffs and novices alike, a stirring and provocative exploration of the Great War and the nature of war itself". -- Tony Horwitz, author of A Voyage Long and Strange "The lives of the author's many characters dovetail elegantly in this moving, accessible book... An ambitious narrative that presents a teeming worldview through intimate, human portraits." -- Kirkus Reviews "An original, engrossing account that gives the war''s opponents (largely English) prominent place ... Hochschild paints equally vivid, painful portraits of now obscure civilians and soldiers who waged a bitter, often heroic, and, Hochschild admits, unsuccessful antiwar struggle." - Publishers Weekly , starred review"Riveting... [Hochschild] has assembled an irresistible, unforgettable cast of characters." -- Associated Press"Superb... Brilliantly written and reads like a novel... [Hochschild] gives us yet another absorbing chronicle of the redeeming power of protest." -- Star-Tribune "This is the kind of investigatory history Hochschild pulls off like no one else… Hochschild is a master at chronicling how prevailing cultural opinion is formed and, less frequently, how it''s challenged." -- NPR''s Fresh Air, Maureen Corrigan"This is a book to make one feel deeply and painfully, and also to think hard." -- Christopher Hitchens , New York Times Book Review "Hochschild brings fresh drama to the story, and explores it in provocative ways . . . Exemplary in all respects." -- Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post "Hochschild has once again produced a moving account of one of the most terrible events of the recent past, bringing this story to life like few historians writing today." -- Seattle Times "Compelling . . . A gifted storyteller, with an eye for the telling detail, Hochschild effectively and eloquently brings to life the senselessness of the war." -- Oregonian
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews,
Publishers Weekly, February 2011
Booklist, April 2011
Library Journal, April 2011
Boston Globe, May 2011
New York Times Book Review, May 2011
The Times (London), June 2011
Los Angeles Times, July 2011
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
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 war were Britain's leading investigative journalist, a future winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, and an editor who, behind bars, published an underground newspaper for his fellow inmates on toilet paper. These critics were intimately connected to their enemy hawks: one of Britain's most prominent women pacifist campaigners had a brother who was commander in chief on the Western Front. Two well-known sisters split so bitterly over the war that they ended up publishing newspapers that attacked each other. Today, hundreds of military cemeteries spread across the fields of northern France and Belgium, containing the bodies of millions of men who died in the "war to end all wars." Can we ever avoid repeating history?
Main Description
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 war were Britain's leading investigative journalist, a future winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, and an editor who, behind bars, published a newspaper for his fellow inmates on toilet paper. These critics were sometimes intimately connected to their enemy hawks: one of Britain's most prominent women pacifist campaigners had a brother who was commander in chief on the Western Front. Two well-known sisters split so bitterly over the war that they ended up publishing newspapers that attacked each other. Today, hundreds of military cemeteries spread across the fields of northern France and Belgium contain the bodies of millions of men who died in the war to end all wars. Can we ever avoid repeating history?
Main Description
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 war were Britain's leading investigative journalist, a future winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, and an editor who, behind bars, published a newspaper for his fellow inmates on toilet paper. These critics were sometimes intimately connected to their enemy hawks: one of Britain's most prominent women pacifist campaigners had a brother who was commander in chief on the Western Front. Two well-known sisters split so bitterly over the war that they ended up publishing newspapers that attacked each other. Today, hundreds of military cemeteries spread across the fields of northern France and Belgium contain the bodies of millions of men who died in the "war to end all wars." Can we ever avoid repeating history?
Main Description
"This is the kind of investigatory history Hochschild pulls off like no one else . . . Hochschild is a master at chronicling how prevailing cultural opinion is formed and, less frequently, how it's challenged." Maureen Corrigan, NPR's Fresh Air World War I was supposed to be the "war to end all wars." Over four long years, nations around the globe were sucked into the tempest, and millions of men died on the battlefields. To this day, the war stands as one of history's most senseless spasms of carnage, defying rational explanation. To End All Wars focuses on the long-ignored moral drama of the war's critics, alongside its generals and heroes. Many of these dissenters were thrown in jail for their opposition to the war, from a future Nobel Prize winner to an editor behind bars who distributed a clandestine newspaper on toilet paper. These critics were sometimes intimately connected to their enemy hawks: one of Britain's most prominent women pacifist campaigners had a brother who was commander in chief on the Western Front. Two well-known sisters split so bitterly over the war that they ended up publishing newspapers that attacked each other. As Adam Hochschild brings the Great War to life as never before, he forces us to confront the big questions: Why did so many nations get so swept up in the violence? Why couldn't cooler heads prevail? And can we ever avoid repeating history? "Hochschild brings fresh drama to the story and explores it in provocative ways . . . Exemplary in all respects." Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post "Superb . . . Brilliantly written and reads like a novel . . . [Hochschild] gives us yet another absorbing chronicle of the redeeming power of protest." Minneapolis Star Tribune
Back Cover Copy
PRAISE FOR ADAM HOCHSCHILD AND TO END ALL WARS "In this deeply moving history of the so-called Great War, those opposing its mindless folly receive equal billing with the politicians, generals, and propagandists obdurately insisting on its perpetuation. Implicit in Adam Hochschild's account is this chilling warning: once governments become captive of wars they purport to control, they turn next on their own people."Andrew J. Bacevich, author of Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War "Adam Hochschild is the rare historian who fuses deep scholarship with novelistic flair. In his hands, World War I becomes a clash not only of empires and armies, but of individuals: King and Kaiser, warriors and pacifists, coal miners and aristocrats. Epic yet human-scaled, this is history for buffs and novices alike, a stirring and provocative exploration of the Great War and the nature of war itself."Tony Horwitz, author of A Voyage Long and Strange
Table of Contents
List of Mapsp. ix
Introduction: Clash of Dreamsp. xi
Dramatis Personae
Brother and Sisterp. 3
A Man of No Illusionsp. 16
A Clergyman's Daughterp. 27
Holy Warriorsp. 40
Boy Minerp. 54
On the Evep. 65
1914
A Strange Lightp. 79
As Swimmers into Cleanness Leapingp. 98
The God of Right Will Watch the Fightp. 114
1915
This Isn't Warp. 135
In the Thick of Itp. 147
Not This Tidep. 160
1916
We Regret Nothingp. 177
God, God, Where's the Rest of the Boys?p. 200
Casting Away Armsp. 215
1917
Between the Lion's Jawsp. 241
The World Is My Countryp. 257
Drowning on Landp. 275
Please Don't Diep. 289
1918
Backs to the Wallp. 309
There Are More Dead Than Living Nowp. 329
Exeunt Omnes
The Devil's Own Handp. 347
An Imaginary Cemeteryp. 360
Source Notesp. 379
Bibliographyp. 411
Acknowledgmentsp. 423
Indexp. 427
About the Authorp. 449
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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