The Pity of War

Front Cover
Basic Books, 1999 - History - 563 pages
48 Reviews
In The Pity of War, Niall Ferguson makes a simple and provocative argument: that the human atrocity known as the Great War was entirely England’s fault. Britain, according to Ferguson, entered into war based on naïve assumptions of German aims—and England’s entry into the war transformed a Continental conflict into a world war, which they then badly mishandled, necessitating American involvement. The war was not inevitable, Ferguson argues, but rather the result of the mistaken decisions of individuals who would later claim to have been in the grip of huge impersonal forces.That the war was wicked, horrific, inhuman,is memorialized in part by the poetry of men like Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, but also by cold statistics. More British soldiers were killed in the first day of the Battle of the Somme than Americans in the Vietnam War; indeed, the total British fatalities in that single battle—some 420,000—exceeds the entire American fatalities for both World Wars. And yet, as Ferguson writes, while the war itself was a disastrous folly, the great majority of men who fought it did so with enthusiasm. Ferguson vividly brings back to life this terrifying period, not through dry citation of chronological chapter and verse but through a series of brilliant chapters focusing on key ways in which we now view the First World War.For anyone wanting to understand why wars are fought, why men are willing to fight them, and why the world is as it is today, there is no sharper nor more stimulating guide than Niall Ferguson’s The Pity of War.
  

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Review: The Pity of War: Explaining World War I

User Review  - Kwong - Goodreads

I love counterfactuals. For years, my secret favorite comic books were DC's Elseworlds and Marvel's What If books. Who isn't curious about the what might have been's, the never were's? I was ... Read full review

Review: The Pity of War: Explaining World War I

User Review  - Tom Haynes - Goodreads

OK. I loved the ascent of money. The story of the the 1st world war is something I'd like to be more knowledgeable of but I just had to put this on the far back burner. Wow, too much trivial ins ... Read full review

Contents

The Myths of Militarism
1
Empires Ententes and Edwardian Appeasement
31
Britains War of Illusions
56
Arms and Men
82
Public Finance and National Security
105
The Last Days of Mankind 28 June4 August 1914
143
The August Days The Myth of War Enthusiasm
174
The Press Gang
212
Maximum Slaughter at Minimum Expense War Finance
318
The Death Instinct Why Men Fought
339
The Captors Dilemma
367
How not to Pay for the War
395
Alternatives to Armageddon
433
Notes
463
Bibliography
517
Index
542

Economic Capability The Advantage Squandered
248
Strategy Tactics and the Net Body Count
282

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About the author (1999)

Niall Ferguson is Fellow and Tutor in Modern History at Jesus College, Oxford. He is the author of Paper and Iron, The House of Rothschilds, and The Pity of War ). He writes regularly for the Times Literary Supplement, and lives in Oxford.

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