The national debate that is ongoing this year in the U.K. where one side contends that the 1914-1918, “Great War” was nothing other than a mighty conflagration ignited by warring empires v. those that believe the war was a serious fight against militarism and the issuance of a free, democratic Europe is one worth monitoring.
Max Hastings is squarely in the camp that says that World War One cannot be explained away as a war that was essentially for naught and that it would make no difference who actually won, the Central Powers or the Allied Entente Nations. Some critics have gone to say that if Germany would have come on top, the only thing that would occur is that the European Union would have made its appearance that much earlier!
As an American this argument is fascinating. We are ourselves, and have been since World War Two, unapologetically wielding Pax Americana, now rounding out into our recent historical disasters like the Invasion of Iraq. I think we will be similarly and hotly debating whenever American hegemony loses its grip on worldwide affairs– as there is no doubt we will inevitably (sooner than later) lose our superpower status.
Perhaps the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
This is my third of Hastings books. It is by far the best I’ve been able to read about World War One and should stand as a companion piece to Barbara Tuchman’s “The Guns of August.”