World’s War Events (Vol. I), by Francis J. Reynolds and Allen L. Churchill (Eds.)

August 19, 2011 at 20:04 (Book Reviews, Highly Rated Books, Historical, Twentieth Century, War) (, , , , , , )

7/10

The pedantic and stuffy compendium World’s War Events is difficult to rate as a whole, chiefly because of the incredible variety of styles and penmanship in the various articles contained. These range from exciting journalistic accounts by men who write as though bullets were currently whipping over their heads, droll pulpy pamphlets of propaganda discussing very earnestly the ‘Hunnish character’ or the ‘excitability of Asiatic Mohammedans’, and at least a few dry and crusty accounts of the movements of this-or-that regiment, with dutiful accounts of near-identical death-or-glory charges into the teeth of machine guns. The account of the Invasion of Belgium or the two chapters on the Battle of Ypres are two of the worst offenders, whereas the articles on mountain warfare and the history of the Emden are deeply interesting and vividly written.

“But a victory by Turkish arms would probably instantly change the situation and might loose the pent-up fanaticism of the most intensely emotional of the Oriental races.”

-World’s War Events (Vol. I)

As a primary source (some of the articles were written during the War itself) this volume is deeply interesting; and readers will be amazed at the prescience shown starkly alongside jingoistic nonsense, and the unique mixture of pathos and insight with arrogant wrongheadedness. The book is poorly annotated, with very little said about either the individual authors of the pieces or their own histories, but to identify a strongly British bias would be generous in the extreme.

Even considering the staunch onesidedness of this history it ought not be written off as useless as a picture of the acts besides the thoughts. Indeed, some of the driest and most bureaucratic pages contain a depth of detail lost to many well-rounded histories, proving that this is one of those rare things indeed: a blend of the myopic fact and the fantastic theory. A very valuable tool, and at least the half of it very easy and pleasant to read.

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