The Pity of War

The Pity of War

3.82 (2,197 ratings by Goodreads)
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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 naive 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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Product details

  • Paperback | 608 pages
  • 134.62 x 200.66 x 27.94mm | 657.71g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Revised ed.
  • 0465057128
  • 9780465057122
  • 305,932

Table of contents

* Figures * Tables * Illustrations * Acknowledgements * Notes on the Illustrations * Introduction * 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 * Economic Capability: The Advantage Squandered * Strategy, Tactics and the Net Body Count * Maximum Slaughter at Minimum Expense: War Finance * The Death Instinct: Why Men Fought * The Captors Dilemma * How (not) to Pay for the War * Conclusion: Alternatives to Armageddon * Notes * Bibliography * Index
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Review quote

"Brings for the first time the carnage of 1914-18 into sharp, unmystified focus. This is analytical history at its mordant best. With all its other merits, The Pity of War is also a work of grace and feeling."--Economist "A rich and provocative book, evocative and heartbreaking. Ferguson is a talented writer and a versatile scholar."--Atlantic "Niall Ferguson, the enfant terrible of the Oxford history establishment...shatter[s] the display cases of the museum of World War I. Persuasive...affecting."--Boston Globe "The Pity of War is one of the most controversial histories to come along in decades. Niall Ferguson...offers a bold, revisionist account of the Great War." Washington Post--Washington Post "An illuminating synthesis of current knowledge on the war. The reader will find plenty of fresh information and challenging ideas on the conflict's most important aspects."--New York Times Book Review "There is much to admire in The Pity of War...Niall Ferguson can confidently claim to have inherited [A.J.P.] Taylor's mantle."--New York Review of Books
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About Niall Ferguson

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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Rating details

2,197 ratings
3.82 out of 5 stars
5 28% (619)
4 38% (834)
3 24% (528)
2 7% (164)
1 2% (52)
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