Happy Thanksgiving!  

MILITARY HISTORY ONLINE

User:    Password:

 
(1914-1918) WWI
Author
Message
Jim Cameron
Ossining
NY USA
Posts: 914
A hard slog...
Posted on: 3/27/2020 6:29:28 PM

Have you ever got started on a seriously scholarly book, which should be a absolute goldmine of information and analysis, only to find yourself bogged down and advancing by what seems to be about five pages a day? And that, not every day.

I've been trapped for what is now either going on, or over, a year trying to get through "Pandora's Box, A History of the First World War", by Jorn Leonard, as translated by Patrick Camiller. 907 pages of text, in small typeface, which would probably equate to about 1200 pages of "normal" text. I am currently up to page 469. The man knows his stuff, but good Lord!

I have actually finished two or three other books along the way.

Check back in a year and I'll let you know how I'm doing.
----------------------------------
Jim Cameron Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.
Phil Andrade
London
 UK
Posts: 4650
A hard slog...
Posted on: 3/28/2020 3:59:39 AM

Not for the faint hearted, then, Jim ? !

This sounds tantalising in terms of scholarship, but a deterrent in terms of readability.

Does he make any ground breaking arguments ?

Is he attributing culpability to Germany for causing the war, or is he of “ The Sleepwalkers” school of thought ?

Regards , Phil
----------------------------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
Jim Cameron
Ossining
NY USA
Posts: 914
A hard slog...
Posted on: 3/28/2020 12:38:48 PM

Don't make me read the first half all over again!

Nothing particularly groundbreaking. Germany doesn't come off as responsible for starting the war, at least, not in the sense of the war guilt clause in the Treaty of Versailles. Neither were its hands totally clean. But the author doesn't fall into the "sleepwalker" school of thought. Not that anyone could fully envision what the war developed into. But people had been down this road before, and had, by and large, managed to avert a major explosion. This time, it didn't work.
I personally don't by the "sleepwalking" scenario. Not with all the talk of preventive wars, railroad expansion, rearmament, and mobilization plans so carefully balanced the no country could afford to loose even a couple of days to a hostile power. People knew. They just didn't know how much.
----------------------------------
Jim Cameron Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.
scoucer
Berlin
 Germany
Posts: 2778
A hard slog...
Posted on: 3/28/2020 12:51:51 PM

Phil and Jim,

Leonard is on the “ The Sleepwalkers” school of thought - with slightly different emphases . He is an excellent dedicated, precise,historian but he is one of those " historian´s historians", happy discussing history with other historians at the same niveau but the complete opposite of Clarke who can, and frequently has, led an interesting historical discussion over a currywurst and beer with a couple of building workers at the currywurst stand. I can bet the book is heavy going in german. If the translation is not good ( as is often the case) , Camiller is not a german specialist ( Italian,Spanish, Rumanian) then it would be like eating porridge without salt for a week.

Trevor

Edit: What we must not forget is that he is not a military historian nor is he a political historian. His emphasis is social history.
----------------------------------
`Hey don´t the wars come easy and don´t the peace come hard`- Buffy Sainte-Marie Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.
Phil Andrade
London
 UK
Posts: 4650
A hard slog...
Posted on: 3/28/2020 1:09:49 PM

Thanks Trevor.

When I watched Clark on a YouTube lecture, I was enchanted by his manner of delivery and can certainly imagine him making the story interesting enough to hold the attention of all and sundry.

Jim,

Could you - or would you - take a peek at what he writes about Verdun ? A snippet, something that he pitches into the pot about the significance of the battle ?

Regards, Phil
----------------------------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
scoucer
Berlin
 Germany
Posts: 2778
A hard slog...
Posted on: 3/28/2020 1:44:31 PM

Jim,
I find the term "Sleepwalkers" really stupid as well. They were all wide awake. OTOH everybody knows that when there is fog and ice on the motorway one should reduce speed and keep your distance. We still end up with crashes involving 20-30 cars.

Trevor
----------------------------------
`Hey don´t the wars come easy and don´t the peace come hard`- Buffy Sainte-Marie Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.
Jim Cameron
Ossining
NY USA
Posts: 914
A hard slog...
Posted on: 3/28/2020 2:36:40 PM

Trevor,
I wonder if we weren't really say somewhat of the same thing about the "sleepwalker" characterization. Just, differently.

Jim
----------------------------------
Jim Cameron Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.
Jim Cameron
Ossining
NY USA
Posts: 914
A hard slog...
Posted on: 3/28/2020 2:51:25 PM

Quote:


Jim,

Could you - or would you - take a peek at what he writes about Verdun ? A snippet, something that he pitches into the pot about the significance of the battle ?

Regards, Phil


He actually devotes a fair amount of space to Verdun, leading from there into the Somme. Hard to settle on a specific snippet. Many are, after all, similar to other accounts. The compressed violence, the casualties. But, perhaps this:

"The military and political consequences crossed a "difference threshold" in the war; the defense of Verdun became in France the decisive moment when the whole nation was put to the test, while Germans saw the tactically insignificant capture of Fort Douaumont in February as a beacon for the future."
----------------------------------
Jim Cameron Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.
Jim Cameron
Ossining
NY USA
Posts: 914
A hard slog...
Posted on: 3/28/2020 2:55:57 PM

Quote:


Trevor

Edit: What we must not forget is that he is not a military historian nor is he a political historian. His emphasis is social history.


Good point. This is very much a social history, which I appreciate, mixed with the necessary, and unavoidable, military and political. Any one element, absent the others, would result in a much more narrow focus than the author attempts.

Jim
----------------------------------
Jim Cameron Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.
john hayward
Allenstown
NH USA
Posts: 816
A hard slog...
Posted on: 3/29/2020 8:12:42 AM

Jim, Phil, Trevor

There are times in history went great statemen/leaders appear on the scene in times of crisis. They step up and lead. There are many examples
FDR in 1933, Churchill in 1940, Kennedy during the 1962 Missle Crisis, Bismarck, Pitt (both Old and Young) and many others. In the lead up to WWI where were they? The Kaiser? The Czar? the foreign ministers of the leading countries? All seemed to stumble towards the cliff without any ideas on how to avoid it. Or had an idea and didn't have the will to push it. No one stepped up.

If pushed no country could actually express the real reason they went to war. Because of this it made it difficult to end it once it started. It became "We cannot allow these men to have died in vain, over nothing."
----------------------------------
"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
Phil Andrade
London
 UK
Posts: 4650
A hard slog...
Posted on: 3/29/2020 12:30:11 PM

John,

Two " might have been" saviours come to my mind : the Russian reformer Stolypin, and the French socialist Jaures.....both assassinated, both men of the calibre necessary to hold back Armageddon.

Nothing more than musing on my part.

Regards, Phil
----------------------------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
scoucer
Berlin
 Germany
Posts: 2778
A hard slog...
Posted on: 3/29/2020 2:56:29 PM

Quote:
Jim, Phil, Trevor

If pushed no country could actually express the real reason they went to war. Because of this it made it difficult to end it once it started. It became "We cannot allow these men to have died in vain, over nothing."


Only 2 countries openly wanted war in 1914. France wanted war with Germany to reverse the results of 1870/71. Austria-Hungary wanted war with Serbia to preserve it´s crumbling empire and against Italy to regain Veneto lost to Italy in the humiliating defeat of 1866.

France, however, needed the support of Russia and AH needed the support of Germany.

Trevor


----------------------------------
`Hey don´t the wars come easy and don´t the peace come hard`- Buffy Sainte-Marie Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.
john hayward
Allenstown
NH USA
Posts: 816
A hard slog...
Posted on: 3/29/2020 4:11:05 PM

Phil
Another Frenchman who along with Jaures may have helped was Joseph Caillaux. Of course his wife was involved in "The Crime of the Century" for shooting Gaston Calmette, editor of the newspaper Le Figaro.

Trevor
Both reasons, esp. France's, were hard to put forth on the table to be discussed. Also in 1914 Italy was supposed to be one of A-H's allies
----------------------------------
"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
scoucer
Berlin
 Germany
Posts: 2778
A hard slog...
Posted on: 3/29/2020 6:15:47 PM

Quote:


Trevor
Both reasons, esp. France's, were hard to put forth on the table to be discussed. Also in 1914 Italy was supposed to be one of A-H's allies


Yes, problematic for A-H. They had to wait until 1916.

Trevr
----------------------------------
`Hey don´t the wars come easy and don´t the peace come hard`- Buffy Sainte-Marie Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.
john hayward
Allenstown
NH USA
Posts: 816
A hard slog...
Posted on: 3/29/2020 6:19:13 PM

Trevor

And of course Italy wanted the whole Adriatic coast
----------------------------------
"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
scoucer
Berlin
 Germany
Posts: 2778
A hard slog...
Posted on: 3/30/2020 12:30:49 PM

Quote:
Trevor

And of course Italy wanted the whole Adriatic coast


A legitimate claim. The Adriatic coast had been part of the Venetian Republic for centuries. The Austrians and French had divided up the neutral Republic between them at the Treaty of Campio Formo in 1797.

There was just as much "unfinished business" before WW1 as after it.

Trevor

Edit: Believe it or not there are Greek islands in the Adriatic and Ageian where the inhabitants speak Italian.
----------------------------------
`Hey don´t the wars come easy and don´t the peace come hard`- Buffy Sainte-Marie Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.
john hayward
Allenstown
NH USA
Posts: 816
A hard slog...
Posted on: 3/30/2020 4:55:27 PM

Trevor

"There was just as much "unfinished business" before WW1 as after it."

Yes which led to all sorts of problems never envisioned by Wilson and his self-determination idea. As an American he never grasped the years and events that shaped Europe's borders and rivalaries
----------------------------------
"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
Dave G
Halifax
NS Canada
Posts: 117
A hard slog...
Posted on: 3/31/2020 11:17:19 AM

Quote:
Have you ever got started on a seriously scholarly book, which should be a absolute goldmine of information and analysis, only to find yourself bogged down and advancing by what seems to be about five pages a day? And that, not every day.


I seem to be the only one who can't get into Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, by James M. McPherson.
After the first few chapters on the industrialization of the North, and the agrarian culture of the South, I keep thinking -- Does this damn war ever get started?
I never got far enough to find out.
----------------------------------
Dave G
scoucer
Berlin
 Germany
Posts: 2778
A hard slog...
Posted on: 3/31/2020 8:22:20 PM

Quote:
Quote:
Have you ever got started on a seriously scholarly book, which should be a absolute goldmine of information and analysis, only to find yourself bogged down and advancing by what seems to be about five pages a day? And that, not every day.


I seem to be the only one who can't get into Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, by James M. McPherson.
After the first few chapters on the industrialization of the North, and the agrarian culture of the South, I keep thinking -- Does this damn war ever get started?
I never got far enough to find out.


Start reading it from the middle. Didn´t know there was a law which says you have to read something from the beginning.

Trevor

----------------------------------
`Hey don´t the wars come easy and don´t the peace come hard`- Buffy Sainte-Marie Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.
Lightning
Glasgow
 UK
Posts: 597
A hard slog...
Posted on: 4/4/2020 2:55:26 PM

Quote:
Quote:
Quote:
Have you ever got started on a seriously scholarly book, which should be a absolute goldmine of information and analysis, only to find yourself bogged down and advancing by what seems to be about five pages a day? And that, not every day.


I seem to be the only one who can't get into Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, by James M. McPherson.
After the first few chapters on the industrialization of the North, and the agrarian culture of the South, I keep thinking -- Does this damn war ever get started?
I never got far enough to find out.


Start reading it from the middle. Didn´t know there was a law which says you have to read something from the beginning.

Trevor



I think that’s what I eventually did! His work on the ‘ Seven Days’ in particular Was really decent.

Cheers,

Colin
----------------------------------
"There is no course open to us but to fight it out. Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause, each one of us must fight to the end."
scoucer
Berlin
 Germany
Posts: 2778
A hard slog...
Posted on: 4/8/2020 9:10:32 AM

Quote:
Trevor
Yes which led to all sorts of problems never envisioned by Wilson and his self-determination idea. As an American he never grasped the years and events that shaped Europe's borders and rivalaries


John,

Don´t get me started on Wilson. He was a disaster. Maybe something for another thread.

Trevor
----------------------------------
`Hey don´t the wars come easy and don´t the peace come hard`- Buffy Sainte-Marie Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.
scoucer
Berlin
 Germany
Posts: 2778
A hard slog...
Posted on: 4/8/2020 9:21:56 AM

Quote:
Jim, Phil, Trevor

There are times in history went great statemen/leaders appear on the scene in times of crisis. They step up and lead. There are many examples
FDR in 1933, Churchill in 1940, Kennedy during the 1962 Missle Crisis, Bismarck, Pitt (both Old and Young) and many others. In the lead up to WWI where were they? The Kaiser? The Czar? the foreign ministers of the leading countries? All seemed to stumble towards the cliff without any ideas on how to avoid it. Or had an idea and didn't have the will to push it. No one stepped up.

If pushed no country could actually express the real reason they went to war. Because of this it made it difficult to end it once it started. It became "We cannot allow these men to have died in vain, over nothing."


After studying it for so many years I´ve come to the conclusion that that they all formed their war aims and reasons for fighting "After they´d got into it".

Trevor
----------------------------------
`Hey don´t the wars come easy and don´t the peace come hard`- Buffy Sainte-Marie Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.
scoucer
Berlin
 Germany
Posts: 2778
A hard slog...
Posted on: 4/8/2020 9:59:21 AM

Quote:

Nothing particularly groundbreaking. Germany doesn't come off as responsible for starting the war, at least, not in the sense of the war guilt clause in the Treaty of Versailles. Neither were its hands totally clean.


Maybe it´s just me getting cynical in my old age, but Germany "had" to be found guilty in the sense of the war guilt clause in the Treaty of Versailles or the Allies couldn´t , by international law, demand reparations.

Trevor
----------------------------------
`Hey don´t the wars come easy and don´t the peace come hard`- Buffy Sainte-Marie Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.
Jim Cameron
Ossining
NY USA
Posts: 914
A hard slog...
Posted on: 4/8/2020 1:05:53 PM

Not, I would imagine, that finding Germany responsible was a particularly high bar.

I don't pretend to have studied the matter in any great depth, beyond a "conventional wisdom" understanding, but as far as reparations were concerned didn't the massive inflation during the Weimar years actually make the payments relatively less onerous?
----------------------------------
Jim Cameron Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.
john hayward
Allenstown
NH USA
Posts: 816
A hard slog...
Posted on: 4/8/2020 2:58:58 PM

Jim, Trevor

Who were they going to blame?
Serbia? Since she was an ally I highly doubt it.
A-H? Didn't exist any more
Russia? They were now communists still former ally
GB/France? really?

Only one left was Germany.





----------------------------------
"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
scoucer
Berlin
 Germany
Posts: 2778
A hard slog...
Posted on: 4/8/2020 6:18:16 PM

Quote:
Not, I would imagine, that finding Germany responsible was a particularly high bar.

I don't pretend to have studied the matter in any great depth, beyond a "conventional wisdom" understanding, but as far as reparations were concerned didn't the massive inflation during the Weimar years actually make the payments relatively less onerous?


Yes, the reparations were not the problem. For the German people it was a problem of being forced to accept a guilt which they didn´t see. And it went across all sections, parties and classes. Even those who were willing to see some sort of guilt were the opinion it was the machinations of the monarchy which they had swept away in a revolution. The shock for many Germans was that they expected there to be negotiations, based on Wilson´s 14 points, as a new German Republik. Instead they were informed there would be no negotations, sign it or hostilities would further commence. Not very smart move from the Allies.

Trevor
----------------------------------
`Hey don´t the wars come easy and don´t the peace come hard`- Buffy Sainte-Marie Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.
john hayward
Allenstown
NH USA
Posts: 816
A hard slog...
Posted on: 4/8/2020 8:09:38 PM

Trevor

There was no real agreement between the Big 3. Each wanted something. Wilson with his idealistic 14 Points, Clemenceau. want Germany weak and no threat. Lloyd George saw an economic trading partner. Plus someone had to pay $ for the War.

The new Republican Adm vowed to cut taxes and needed the money owed by France and GB to balance the budget. The only place they were going to get it was from Germany
----------------------------------
"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
Jim Cameron
Ossining
NY USA
Posts: 914
A hard slog...
Posted on: 9/23/2020 8:42:47 PM

Just by way of an update, I am still slogging my way through this book. Currently up to page 559! Which makes it something like 100 pages since the end of March. Pathetic, but I remain determined to reach the end. Sooner or later.

I have, it must be said, actually finished two or three other books in the interim, including Ian Toll's "Twilight of the Gods", the monumental (792 pages) third volume of his trilogy on the war in the Pacific in 1944 - 1945. Basically, the Philippines, Okinawa, and Iwo Jima, plus the air war over Japan. Which, I enjoyed immensely. It was both informative and, entertaining. A rare combination. This not being the proper forum for the Pacific during WW2, I will confine my comments to a spoiler that the author is no fan of Bill Halsey.

Since it seems to be a rare day when I get through more than about 3 pages of "Pandora's Box", check back some time in 2021.
----------------------------------
Jim Cameron Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

© 2020 - MilitaryHistoryOnline.com LLC