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If someone less distinguished than Niall Ferguson--a fellow and tutor in Modern History at Jesus College, Oxford--had written The Pity of Waryou could be forgiven for thinking that he was a man in search of a few cheap headlines by contradicting almost every accepted orthodoxy about World War I.
Ferguson argues that Britain was as much to blame for the start of the war as was German militarism, and that had Britain sacrificed Belgium to Germany, the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution would never have happened, Germany would have created a united European state, and Britain could have remained a superpower. He also contends that there was little enthusiasm for the war in Britain in 1914, but equally he claims that it was not prolonged by clever manipulation of the media. Instead, he purports that the reason men fought was because they enjoyed it. He also maintains that it wasn't the severity of the conditions imposed on Germany at Versailles in 1919 that led inexorably to World War II; rather it was the comparative leniency and the failure to collect reparations in full.
The Pity of War has no pretensions to offering the grand narrative of World War I. Instead it reads like a polemical tract; as such it is immensely readable, well-researched, and controversial. You may not end up agreeing with all of Ferguson's arguments, but that should not deter you from reading it. All of us need our deeply-held views challenged from time to time; if only to remind us why we've got them. --John Crace --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The most challenging and provocative analysis of the First World War to date (Ian Kershaw)
Must take a permanent place at the top of the War's historiography. It is one of the very few books whose own scale matches that of the events it describes (Alan Clark Daily Telegraph)
Brilliant and stimulating ... radical, readable and convincing (The Times)
Possibly the most important book to appear in years both on the origins of the First World War ... Ferguson can confidently claim to have inherited A. J. P. Taylor's mantle (Paul Kennedy New York Review of Books)
At one massive stroke, Niall Ferguson has transformed the intellectual landscape (Economist)
I like Ferguson's books and this keeps up his high standard. This is a much- needed examination of the war from angles that are often neglected and I found most of his points to be... Read morePublished 3 months ago by hardtruth
Extremely informative and a well written book. The enormous amounts of facts that Niall Ferguson throws at us are understandable because of his very approachable style.. Read morePublished 6 months ago by V FARRANTS
Bit of a text book with the amount of data but an interesting analysis none the less.Published 12 months ago by AF
Fascinating character, our Niall - never one to respect conventional pieties. Not another corpse-count and tour de trenches but a sober yet dazzling consideration of how we... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Simon Barrett 'Il Penseroso'
Brillian as usual by Niall Ferguson. Going behind the obvious into the personal, political, human and of course economic reasons this was was fought and one. A must-read!Published 15 months ago by Mr Gareth R Pritchard