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1918: War and Peace Hardcover – 12 Oct 2000


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 627 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray; Unknown edition (12 Oct 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0719554772
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719554773
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 24.1 x 5.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,708,873 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

‘Brilliant…It’s quite unlike any history book I know.’ -- Jane Ridley, Spectator --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

This text traces the transition from war to peace across Europe after World War I. It examines these dramatic events from the perspective of five capitals: Berlin, Paris, London, Moscow and Washington.

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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 18 Oct 2002
Format: Paperback
'1918' is an engrossing account of the way the world settled down, or at least tried to settle down, in the aftermath of the First World War. Gregor Dallas does a great job in bringing to life the leading personalities of the day, and explaining the forces and philosophies that drove them. We are therefore presented with an excellent account that not only tells us what happened in Paris, London, Moscow, etc but also an explaination as to why. It is a good insight into a very confusing period.
However, there are some very strange statements scattered through the book that really should have been detected and corrected prior to publication. Three howlers stand out:
The claim that mutinous elements of the High Seas Fleet at Kiel commandeered a Naval Zeppelin and flew it to Berlin, bedecked in red flags. Strangely, this spectacular episode doesn't appear in the standard works on the German Naval Air Service. The account leaves the reader wondering how the sailors concerned managed to arrange the large trained ground handling party that would have been required to facilitate the airship's arrival.
Later, we are given a startling insight into the history of the Polish troops in 'Haller's Army' which "in 1917, had fought its way to the Baltic and from there had been carried in British vessels to the Western Front". If this happened, with a British Fleet sneaking past the High Seas Fleet to enter the Baltic and then, even better, sneaking past the Germans again on the return trip, it would be one of the greatest maritime feats of the War! I have read elsewhere that 'Haller's Army' was actually raised in the USA and Canada.
On the other side of the equator is the remark that Australia had territorial desires on Timor!
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By lancet on 21 Sep 2014
Format: Hardcover
This is a text book and certainly reads like one. It is a massive 627 pages and of little interest to all but the academic fraternity.
Far better books about 1918 than this available. Avoid if you are not studying the subject.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 9 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
A Weighty Piece of History 4 Sep 2001
By Mr Mondo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Gregor Dallas has gifted the world with a splendid introduction for history laymen like myself on the question of what happened after the war ended and why we let it get that way. The short answer is that after November 11, 1918, Europe burned only at one end instead of both. Dallas's genius lies in giving you the overly-long answer and, as a consequence, a very nice bookstop once you have finished reading its contents.

If I sound a bit miffed about the length of the book, please don't take it quite that way. I found certain passages that soared upon the wings of swallows. Others, however, merely shuffled along like an arthritic elephant. Mr. Dallas's tome shuffles a bit too much. It needed tighter editing. I was also distracted by the number of typos I ran across, including one of my all-time favorites the "the the" mental stutter, which is liberally salted throughout the book.

So, what about Dallas's historical analysis of the events surrounding the Armistice and its aftermath? He's on his firmest and most fascinating footing when recounting mayhem, most notably Germany's descent into near anarchy, the swirl of conflicting groups contesting one another for control of Berlin or parts of it and the rise of paramilitary groups that ultimately curbed the unrest in a bloody, extra-legal manner.

Dallas's greatest achievement lies in reminding Western readers that when the guns fell silent in the trenches in France, they continued to roar everywhere in Europe east of the Oder. He takes the time to explain why the Bolsheviks were able to seize and consolidate their control of the new Russian state. There are plenty of books already out that will give you a much more thorough account of the convoluted fighting between Red and White armies between 1919-1921. Dallas, however, is interested in the question of how the vicious civil war in Russia and its outcome affected all of Central Europe in the interwar period. Poland's defeat of Russia in a brief war in 1920, often overlooked in Western accounts of the aftermath of the Great War, is placed in a much more appropriate context here.

This is a book you read once, put back on the shelf, then return to over the years as you learn more about that particular era of history. Dallas's palpable dislike of Communists along with Americans in general and liberals in particular may put off some more patriotic readers, but it doesn't detract from the book's worth as a reminder of what happens when peace is not waged with the single-mindedness, intensity and ingenuity of modern war.
24 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Anglophilia run Amuck 20 May 2004
By Daryl Anderson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
What a year 1918 was on the western front! 1917 had experienced the mutinous near-collapse of the French Armies, the economic near-collapse of the British Empire, and the actual collapse of the Tsar's Russia. The first was only quelled by Marshall Petain's promise to his army to sit-tight until the Americans came, and the second by the gargantuan financial and munitions assistance provided by those same Americans. In the spring of the new year the Germans gathered divisions freed from the war now ended in the East and proceeded to almost win the war in the west with their Kaiserschlacht in the spring of 1918. Its quite a history, and I picked-up this book in hopes of finding more of it fleshed-out.
Instead I found history rewritten and the American contributions not just downplayed but actively mocked.
I eventually stopped reading this absurdly biased book when I got to the part (early on) where the author scorns the AEF, the U.S. forces, for losing 9000 men in their first day of fighting in the Argonne - a rate of loss he claims to be higher than anything else in the war. Have the 60,000 lost by the British on the first day of The Somme been relegated to the memory hole? Can the four years of bungled leadership and slaughter of the French and British armies be ignored: a British army whose courage is certain, but whose history of losses is bitterly encapsulated by a phrase describing their decimation in the first months of the war as "The First 100,000." For almost any day of actual battle that the British generals sent their men forward nine-thousand lost was trumpeted as a smashing victory!
This pathetic attempt to highlight Pershing's flaws leading the AEF over the genocide committed upon British soldiery by Haig and upon the French by Joffre and Foch and Nivelle was enough for me to realize that Mr. Dallas is of that breed of monomaniacally Anglophile WWI historians who occupy a special roost amongst the vultures picking at the corpses of the prior century. Factor in Dallas's apparent amnesia with respect to one of history's most infamous slaughters and one must wonder at what, exactly he might be fleshing out except the long-dead corpse of British martial and imperial glory.
Rather than trust your own background on the war to allow reading this fat book with balance, consider some others instead:
(a) Dallas holds the Germans 110% responsible for the war. Read Niall Ferguson's "The Pity of War" instead for a view that strongly supports the idea the Brits need not have entered the war at all and did so through the sly manipulation of fact and public opinion. Read McCullough's "How the First World War Began" for a detailed look at the manipulations of British and French militarists in the 20 years prior to 1914. For that matter read David Fromkin's "Europe's Last Summer" for a more studied view, albeit one leading to the same conclusion as Dallas.
(b) Dallas considers the Americans to be bumpkins and military incompetents. For alternative views read Mosier's "The Myth of the Great War" (or almost any contemporaneous German military report of their reaction to the arrival of one million fresh American troops on the front). Even Fleming's "The Illusion of Victory" presents a more considered view within its critique of the Wilson government's trampling of liberties at home to feed the hungry maw of the Franco-British war machine.
(c) Dallas considers the leadership of the British war effort to have been an astute bunch. For alternative views consider Laffin's "British Butchers and Bunglers of WWI" or Denis Winter's "Haig's Command." For anglophilia that at least honors not the butchers but those who actually fought and died read any of Lyn MacDonald's books.
I admit I never got to the parts of this book where it, presumably, treats with the armistice and the creation of the peace. It seems certain that you'd do better to read Fromkin's "A Peace to End all Peace", or the aforementioned Fleming book, or Macmillan's "Paris, 1919: Six Months that Changed the World."
Two stars for a good example of how malleable history can be at the hands of apologists for fools.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
The World That Was No More 18 July 2001
By "mrskurt" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Dallas presents a thought-provoking, extremely interesting look at the end of the war and the process of peace negotiations. As it turned out, negotiating peace was harder than waging war, for the peace goals of the major players among the Allies varied greatly. The French wanted revenge, the British wanted money, President Wilson wanted a New World Order and his League of Nations-- and no one quite knew how to bring them all together into a manageable peace. Dallas probes the minds and souls of everyone from displomats to the front line soldiers (Allied and German) and renders a truly engrossing account of the forces which led to Paris in 1919 and a "peace" which paved the way for the eventual rise of Hitler and the horrors of the Nazis. Anyone interested in World War I will appreciate this book.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Finally, the truth about Versailles 11 Dec 2002
By William J. Rigby - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Five stars to Gregor Dallas! He has written one of the best history books on WW1 that I have read at any time and with a particular interest in WW1 this mean I have read many. It is eminently comparable to Massie's "Dreadnought" in depth and readability. Come to think of it, the one complements the other since there can be no better introduction to the origins of WW1 and no better narrative of the transition from war to peace.
I read Dallas' "The Final Act" which relates the end of the Napoleonic Wars and the transition to peace through the Congress of Vienna in 1815. Thus, his latest book treats the same process after the "War to End all Wars" and where appropriate he draws useful parallels. The difference between the two transitions is striking: after 1815, Europe remained peaceful for almost exactly 100 years, except for the altercation between France and the newly formed Germany of Bismarck in 1870, but after 1918 the peace lasted just over 20 years before another world war.
The seeds of WW2 were sown during the peace process which began with the armistice of November 11, 1918. The entry of the United States into WW1 came at a late hour and by the time US military intervention began to have any effect the war was virtually over. Indeed, we learn that the refusal of Pershing to integrate the US Expeditionary force into the allied command had two consequences. One was Pershing's naïve belief he could do what the allies could not by making mass frontal attacks. Both the British and French had taken years to learn this was not the way to win a war, but in the typical NIH syndrome that we seem to suffer from, Pershing refused to listen. Thus he made three attempts to break through the German lines and failed miserably each time, incurring horrendous losses quite on a par with anything the allied command had inflicted on their own forces. Meantime, both the British and French were forging ahead: Clemenceau expressed his frustration on two occasions at the slowness of Pershing to effect a contribution in accordance with the plan. Finally, on the 4th attempt, Pershing broke through, but by then the German flanks were in great danger from the allies on each side. Only in the last week of the war did the US army make a significant contribution, but Wilson took little time to announce it was America that won the war!
The book relates the formulation of Wilson's 14 points, written with his friend Colonel House (who was not a colonel at all!) without consulting either his cabinet or the Congress. He then sent the 14 points to the German government without informing the allies. This contrasts with Lloyd George, the British premier, who was careful not only to keep his cabinet informed, but also parliament, so that when he did make his policy speech, it was with the support of the elected representatives. A lesson of democracy, indeed, when compared to Wilson's method! Clemenceau equally was careful to keep all those that mattered informed of his thoughts and intentions.
Wilson's misplaced and naïve idealism in the end cost the allies a good deal as Dallas demonstrates. Wilson was never able to comprehend the French concern about the future and its imperative to prevent Germany from making war again. The British understood this very well, but placed themselves in the middle. The question of German reparations for the extensive damage they caused was a common aim of the allies, but Wilson did not really want to see Germany stuck with reparations, though in the end he accepted the principle he did not foresee enforcing any payments. In short, the intervention of Wilson directly lead to WW2 far more than any so-called 'appeasement' by Chamberlain or the French. While all parties concentrated on Germany's western borders, no one bothered too much about what was going on in Poland, nor for that matter in Germany itself. Thus the myth of the non-defeat of the German Army was allowed to fester and to lay the blame, later, on the Versailles Treaty not to mention 'appeasement'.
Reading other critiques on this site, I find the claim of errors by one critic nonsensical and, moreover, the allegation is unsupported by evidence. I also note the typos are not as frequent as alleged, but even more important, I wonder what typos have to do with the substance of the work? I accept the truth is hard for many of us to swallow, brought up on the usual myths of US hubris, but the critics should say so and not use subterfuge to denigrate a serious, excellent book.
This is an important book, because it overturns accepted ideas, places a perspective on the aftermath of WW1 not found, to my knowledge, elsewhere. It is thus not only a rattling well told story, but also a work of scholarship.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Repenting in leisure 11 Dec 2002
By Philly - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
'1918' is a grand book about the end of the most significant war of our times, It aiso illustrates how making peace can do more harm for future generations than the war itself.
The peace was negotiated until 1926; the Treaty of Versailles- June, 1919- was first on the agenda so Europe could contain Germany as soon as possible- at least on the Western Front. The war in the East was germany's problem for a while. However, the treaty was just the beginning of how the Paris Conference played a role in changing the whole world.

Nearly every country on Earth was held in the balance after the war that was to end all wars; four empires died their timely deaths, leaving behind the debris of centuries. All wanted what they believed was rightfully theirs: self determination.
The Great War did what Napoleon failed to do: it ended the Age of Empire. Prior to the war, European Empires ruled the world through their colonies, money and weapons.
But the 1918 armistice and the peace worked out in Paris ended that age of domination. The men meting out peace created countries, changed borders, gave promises of independence. They shaped the world- and its problems- we live in today.
Although the USA was not in the trenches for long, it had the biggest hand to play- because the United States was the only major player left with any money.
Therefore, Woodrow Wilson's League of Nations theory and Fourteen Points (he really had nothing but a theory to offer) had to be accepted first so Europe could get funding to
contain Germany.
France insisted any peace plan had to keep Germany far from its borders. France's self interest was a demilitarized Germany. France, the victim of Germany, did not win here.
Soon enough, Germany wanted to punish France- For the Germans believed it did not lose the war. They thought France, backed by the USA, decided to blame its losses on them.
It is a fallacy France let Germany roll over them during WWII. It was a mere 20 years earlier French soil was soaked with the blood of millions of Europeans, most of them Frenchmen.
When Hitler invaded, France wanted to keep the orphans of the Great War from the fate of their fathers.
Chamberlain, blamed for Hitler's land grab, was in the same position. England was not ready to fight again. By letting Hitler take the Sudetenland, hopes were high that was as far as he would go. The area was mostly German anyway (and intensely anti-semetic). A more perceptive negotiator would have seen Hitler was determined to even the score over WWI. But so many turned a blind eye, since no one wanted another war.
Signs of The Great War can be found all over Europe; very few were untouched by its impact. No country anticipated a brutal war that would go into a stalemate within months. Not one country believed the battle could last four years.
Dallas spells all this out in a book that I could not stop reading. He takes on each country, its current status as of 1918, and its war and peace interests. Dallas is honest; he uses the leaders' personalities as part of the process- because that's how the peace was finally made.
'1918' is a must read for many reasons, especially anyone interested in how Europe was forced to cut the roots to its empires.
The book shows how a war that could have been fought longer finally ended, with France finally achieving victory over its invader. it also shows the perils of peace. Haste fomented resentment; haste laid the ground work for the next brutal war- only 20 years later.
'1918' is also a fascinating read for those curious how we got to where we are today. One example: Iraq became a country created by the Paris Conference.
History haunts us all.
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