The Pity of War: Explaining World War I

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Basic Books, 1999 - History - 563 pages
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 na´ve 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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THE PITY OF WAR: Explaining World War I

User Review  - Kirkus

As the 20th century draws to a close, Ferguson (Modem History/Oxford Univ.; The House of Rothschild, 1998) renders a brilliant reassessment of one of the century's most far-reaching and tragic wars ... Read full review

The pity of war

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Ferguson's controversial reexamination of The Great War--which drew some harsh criticism in Britain as revisionist history--forces the reader to take a fresh look at that now mythologized event ... Read full review


The Myths of Militarism
Empires Ententes and Edwardian Appeasement
Britains War of Illusions
Arms and Men
Public Finance and National Security
The Last Days of Mankind 28 June4 August 1914
The August Days The Myth of War Enthusiasm
The Press Gang
Maximum Slaughter at Minimum Expense War Finance
The Death Instinct Why Men Fought
The Captors Dilemma
How not to Pay for the War
Alternatives to Armageddon

Strategy Tactics and the Net Body Count

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About the author (1999)

Niall Ferguson is one of the world's most renowned historians. He is the author of books including: The House of Rothschild, The Cash Nexus, Empire, Colossus, The War of the World, The Ascent of Money, High Financier, Civilization, The Great Degeneration, Kissinger, 1923-1968: The Idealist, and The Square and the Tower. He is Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a Visiting Professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing. His many awards include the Benjamin Franklin Prize for Public Service (2010), the Hayek Prize for Lifetime Achievement (2012) and the Ludwig Erhard Prize for Economic Journalism (2013).