"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Monday, May 14, 2018

The End of the Endless Great War

Almost five years ago now, I noted that we were gearing up for the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War, which was already in 2013 occasioning a steady publication of new books, which only accelerated in the following year. For general histories, see the link at the top. For a specifically theological analysis of the war, I noted here Philip Jenkins' surprising, almost shocking, book on the war as a holy war.

And now, as this interesting photo array at The Atlantic reminds me, we are coming upon the centenary of the end of the war. 

The war may have ended nearly a century ago now, but as the always-fascinating Cambridge historian David Reynolds has shown, that war has had very long shadows. Eastern Christians are aware of that only too well, living in the aftermath of the fall of the Ottoman Empire and its genocides against Armenian, Greek, and Assyrian Christians.

As we come to the centenary of the end of the war, and then to the abysmal legacy of the peace conference afterwards, I draw your attention once more to a splendid book by the Anglo-Canadian historian (and great grand-daughter of David Lloyd George) Margaret MacMillan, Paris 1919: Six Months that Changed the World. 

This book tells a complicated story with great insight and panache. She allows the major characters--especially Clemenceau, George, and Wilson--to come alive alongside an equally fascinating set of other leaders in Paris--e.g., the Greek prime minister Venizelos, various minor Romanian royals, and others. And the sarcastic comments made by Clemenceau against George and Wilson are revealing and hilarious in about equal measure--and far from undeserved. It is a fascinating history sure to delight.

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