"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).

Saturday, June 28, 2014

100 Years Ago Today....

As you've no doubt heard by now, today is the centenary of the assassination of the Austrian archduke and his consort in Sarajevo, the event that, through twists and turns, led to the greatest catastrophe of the last century, World War I. I write only to draw your interest to the many books I discussed nearly a year ago now, in anticipation of this sad centenary. I've had a chance to read many of the new ones mentioned last year, and commend them to your interest, especially McMeekin's book, which really turns on its head a lot of the received mythology about the causes of the outbreak of the war. In addition, as you would expect from so fine an historian, Philip Jenkins new book, noted here, is an outstanding and near-singular work, wholly welcome to Eastern Christians especially.

I'm working my way through another book right now, from the Cambridge historian David Reynolds: The Long Shadow: The Legacies of the Great War in the Twentieth Century (Norton, 2014), 544pp.

This is a fascinating study of the differing perceptions of the war in different countries. Reynolds notes that the Anglo-American view differs considerably from, of course, the Austrian, German, and Russian views, inter alia, to say nothing of the French. It is a finely detailed study offering a wide survey of views from around the world.

Reynolds, of course, is the author of numerous other studies, including his immensely interesting and enjoyable book In Command of History: Churchill Fighting and Writing the Second World War which was a study of how Churchill wrote his six-volume history-cum-memoir-cum-political-manifesto about the Second World War. In lesser hands a book about the writing of another book (six of them actually) could be a leaden and deadly thing to read, but this is a wonderfully written tale and, surprisingly (given the vast and endless stream of books about Churchill) one of the few studies (until recently) of The Literary Churchill: Author, Reader, Actor--as well, of course, as Noble-prize winning historian manqué 

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