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14-18: Understanding the Great War

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14-18: Understanding the Great War by Audoin-Rouzeau, Stéphane; Becker, Annette, 9780809046430
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  • ISBN: 9780809046430 | 0809046431
  • Cover: Paperback
  • Copyright: 8/5/2014
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With this brilliantly innovative book, Steacute;phane Audoin-Rouzeau and Annette Becker have shown that the Great War was the matrix on which all subsequent disasters of the twentieth century were formed. Three elements of the conflict, all too often neglected or denied, are identified as those that must be grasped if we are to understand the war: First, what inspired its unprecedented physical brutality, and what were the effects of tolerating such violence? Second, how did citizens of the belligerent states come to be driven by vehement nationalistic and racist impulses? Third, how did the tens of millions bereaved by the war come to terms with the agonizing pain? With its strikingly original interpretative strength and its wealth of compelling documentary evidence drawn from all sides in the conflict,14-18: Understanding the Great Warhas quickly established itself as a classic in the history of modern warfare. Steacute;phane Audoin-Rouzeau, of the Jules Verne University of Picardy, andAnnette Becker, of the University of Paris X-Nanterre, both have written extensively on World War I. They are directors of the Historial of the Great War, an international museum and research center at the Chacirc;teau de Peacute;ronne, near the Somme. AChoiceOutstanding Academic Title It is no surprise that almost a century after the catastrophe of the Great War, its terrible history continues to dominate the imagination of the West. As this book shows, in painful and important ways the Great War was the matrix on which all subsequent disasters of the twentieth century were formed. Audoin-Rouzeau and Becker, setting aside the overly familiar scholarly tasks of assigning responsibility for the war, accounting for its battles, and assessing its causes, instead examine three neglected but highly significant aspects of the conflict, each of which changed national and international affairs forever. First, the war was unprecedented in its physical violence and destruction: Why was this so? What were the effects of tolerating it for four years? Second, not just the soldiers but also the citizens of all the belligerent states seemed motivated and exalted by a vehement nationalistic, racist animus against the enemy: How had this "crusade" mentality evolved? Did it ever dissipate? Third, with its millions of deaths the war created a tidal wave of grief, since tens of millions of people worldwide were bereaved: How could the mourners ever come to terms with the agonizing pain? These elements, all too often overlooked or denied, are the ones we must come to grips with if we are ever going to understand the Great War. With its original interpretative strength and its wealth of compelling documentary evidence drawn from all sides in the conflict, this innovative work has quickly established itself as a classic in the history of modern warfare. "Extraordinarily lucid on complex themes . . . A slim, distilled work [that] offers a splendidly readable synoptic introduction to the comparative and interdisciplinary work of [the Historial de la Grande Guerre]."Hew Strachan,Foreign Affairs "This fine book by two of France's eminent historians of World War I undertakes an important task: to understand the Great War. Such an enterprise is especially valuable for Americans, who often focus on World War II to the near exclusion of the first and consequently miss the importance of the latter as the crucible of the twentieth century and of the 1939-1945 war . . . This excellent little book is a 'must' read for those who would understand the nature of World War I and its effect on European society. The book's lucid explication of the complex nature of the war's effect on Europe renders it eminently accessible not only to the academic audience for use in the classroom but also to a general public that sorely needs to understand

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