This satiric video from Britain is called Frightful First World War – The Battle of the Somme.
By Alan Lloyd in Britain:
by Peter Hart (Profile Books, £25)
Sunday 21 April 2013
A gripping new history of WWI which starkly outlines its causes and horrific consequences
With the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I fast approaching, the publication of a book which brings together an analysis of all of the theatres of war in a single volume is very welcome.
With so much focus on the Western Front, it is easy to forget the involvement of troops and civilian workers from all over the British empire – this was truly a war which affected every corner of the globe.
Hart analyses the actions of the various generals and admirals in the context of the information, weapons, and tactics available to them at the time and includes the Germans, Russians, the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires and Serbs as well as the Western allies.
What gives passion to what might otherwise have been a cold, hard look at the plans and tactics – and the slaughter that usually resulted – are the eyewitness accounts from many of the rank and file and junior officers on the front line.
The statistics of WWI continue to stagger. It’s estimated that over nine million soldiers were killed, including over a million each from France, the British and Austro-Hungarian empires and two million from Germany.
Added to this are the 21 million wounded, a million civilians killed as a direct result of military action and almost another six million due to related famine and disease.
The author is brutally frank about both the cause and the results of this utter carnage. It was simply about the preservation and enlargement of the various empires which dominated Europe.
While Germany was the most culpable, the rest were not entirely innocent and, once tensions started to rise, none of the ruling classes – who were usually related one way or another – were capable or willing to sue for peace.
The author also points out that rather than being the “war to end all wars” it simply laid the foundations for the second world war and any number of other conflicts which continue to cost lives and cause misery to this day.
I would highly recommend this book, not only for the honest appraisal of all the main characters and countries involved, but because it gives a voice to those who paid the ultimate price, often for no purpose whatsoever.
It will be good reference point when British politicians try to pretend it was all something different come the commemorations next year.