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To End All Wars: How the First World War Divided Britain [Unabridged] [Hardcover]

Adam Hochschild
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Book Description

20 May 2011
In this brilliant new work of history, Adam Hochschild follows a group of characters connected by blood ties, close friendships or personal enmities and shows how the war exposed the divisions between them. They include the brother and sister whose views on the war could not have been more diametrically opposed – he a career soldier, she a committed pacifist; the politician whose job was to send young men who refused conscription to prison, yet whose godson was one of those young men and the suffragette sisters, one of whom passionately supported the war and one of whom was equally passionately opposed to it. Through these divided families, Hochschild paints a vivid picture of Britain poised between the optimism of the Victorian era and the era of Auschwitz and the Gulag – a divided country, fractured by the seismic upheaval of the Great War and its aftermath.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan; Unabridged edition (20 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230013961
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230013964
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 352,832 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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'World War I remains the quintessential war -- unequalled in concentrated slaughter, patriotic fervor during the fighting, and bitter disillusion afterward, writes Hochschild. Many opposed it and historians mention this in passing, but Hochschild, winner of an L.A. Times Book Award for Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire's Slaves, has written an original, engrossing account that gives the war's opponents (largely English) prominent place. These mostly admirable activists include some veteran social reformers like the formidable Pankhursts, who led violent prosuffrage demonstrations from 1898 until 1914, and two members of which enthusiastically supported the war while one, Sylvia, opposed it, causing a permanent, bitter split. Sylvia worked with, and was probably the lover of, Keir Hardie, a Scotsman who rose from poverty to found the British Labour party. Except for Bertrand Russell, famous opponents are scarce because most supported the war. Hochschild vividly evokes the jingoism of even such leading men of letters as Kipling, Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, and John Galsworthy. By contrast, Hochschild paints equally vivid, painful portraits of now obscure civilians and soldiers who waged a bitter, often heroic, and, Hochschild admits, unsuccessful antiwar struggle.' --Publishers' Weekly

`charged and moving ... thoroughly researched, wide-ranging in its curiosities, and always compassionate and sympathetic' --Andrew Motion, Guardian, 7 May 2011

`We think of anti-war movements as a recent phenomenon, born amid the controversies of Vietnam and Iraq. But, as Hochschild, the author of terrific books on the Belgian Congo and the slave trade, points out in this lively narrative, the British peace movement during the First World War was one of the bravest and most outspoken in history ... fast-moving and entertaining' --Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times, 8 May 2011

`Hochschild has done his level best to build a memorial to these dissenters, and is hugely to be congratulated on his hard work ... This is a book to make one feel deeply and painfully, and also to think hard.'
--Christopher Hitchens,New York Times Book Review, May 2011

' is the day-to-day details about individual lives that makes this account stand out....what makes this such a good read is that, throughout, the focus is on private as much as public lives, and especially on how war sowed deep, often irreconcilable divisions within families.' --BBC History Magazine's Jon Lawrence

About the Author

Adam Hochschild is an award-winning author of six books, mostly on subjects related to human rights. King Leopold's Ghost was the winner of the prestigious Duff Cooper Prize and Bury the Chains was longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize. He lives in San Francisco and teaches at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books about WW1... 24 Mar 2013
By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWER
I'm a bit late in reading and reviewing Adam Hochschild's book about WW1, "To End All Wars", but it is one of the best of the many books I've read on the subject. A relatively short book - 375 pages of text - Hochschild writes mainly about the Home Front and how military and political and personal decisions together made a 4-1/2 year war-to-end-all-wars a living hell for most people involved.

Hochschild does write about some of the battles; his writing about the Battle of Passchendaele in low-lying Flanders (Belgium), where many of the casualties were literally killed by drowning in the water-soaked lowlands of the battlefield gives new meaning to the word "futile". The hundreds of thousands of casualties at the Battle of the Somme, which began on July 1, 1915 and ended 4 months later, was the result of bad leadership by British Commander Sir Douglas Haig. Hochschild's book is a litany of bad decisions made by military leaders on both sides.

But if Adam Hochschild writes about the military side of the war, he's excellent in covering the political and societal sides of the war, in both Britain and Germany. He writes about how people found common ground in both prosecuting the war and others in objecting to it. Families which were split apart; some members favored the war, while others rallied against it. This is a great, well-rounded look at that "War to End All Wars".
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The First World War and its discontents 8 May 2011
The outbreak of the First World War in August 1914 was greeted in Great Britain with a massive show of unity. Men of fighting age rushed to enlist, while organizations and factions set aside their differences in order to face their new common enemy. Yet such support was not universal. As widespread as the demonstration of enthusiasm for the war was, a committed handful stood in stubborn defiance against the conflict. Adam Hochschild's book details their often lonely struggle against the backdrop of the war they so passionately opposed. In it, he attempts to provide an understanding of the choices they made, showing why they refused to subordinate their conscience to the war effort and the prices they paid for their stance.

The people Hochschild focuses on are a select group, men and women who are bound by family and personal ties to the British elite. He starts by charting the origin of the opposition of some of them to war by detailing their opposition to an earlier conflict, the Boer War. The fighting there led people such as Charlotte Despard, Emily Hobhouse, and the Pankhursts to campaign against the British war effort. For them, opposing the war was just one of many causes they undertook, as the activists Hochschild highlights were often at the forefront of radical reform in Edwardian Britain. Yet the outbreak of the war against Germany created deep divisions among their ranks, even to the point of tearing apart families such as the Pankhursts. Their stand provoked considerable public derision, and most of them were subjected to surveillance and obstruction by the authorities. Yet Hochschild sees their fight as all the more noble for its futility, ultimately granting them the larger moral victory despite the hopelessness of their cause.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Spellbinding! A truly great read and very informative. It gives an incredible perspective on the impact of the First World War and the shaping of our current society.
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5.0 out of 5 stars revelatory 4 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Revelatory book about the hidden facts behind the Great War; it will change the way you think about it, after only a few pages. Remarkable journalism turned into a flowing narrative.
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is an excellent resource for anyone interested in the history of resistance to World War 1. Hochschild is an American historian with a deep knowledge of resistance in Britain. He combines stories of those who opposed the war with stories of passionate advocates for war. Sometimes these are from the same families, for example Emmeline and Sylvia Pankhurst. The book contains many photographs and is very much the story of personalities. All of these people, whether conscientious objectors or those who supported them, show great courage and fortitude.
Hochschild shows scholarship and sympathy in this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read 4 Feb 2014
By rfw
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A wonderful and moving insight into the horrors of WW1 . Difficult to imagine that anyone will not be moved after this reading this book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Challenging but worthwhile Read 5 Jan 2014
By diduff
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I found this a refreshingly different approach to dealing with complexities of the causes and effects of the first World War. It was fascinating to view the war from the perspective of key individuals such as Charlotte Despard, her brother Sir John French, the Pankhursts and Rudyard Kipling. The relevance of background events such as the Boer War was something I had not thought about. The industrial unrest that was going on though-out Europe and troubles in the Suffragette Movement were also new to me. Adam Hochschild has written a most thought- provoking book which exposes in lucid and well-written prose the horrors of this war.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Division during great war 9 Oct 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Many books have been written during span of one hundred years of Great War, and many would be written in future also.
why this war named to be ^Great War^ because Britain fought it for noble cause- for the noble cause of Belgium and France resulting disaster for the Great Britain. It was premonition at the death of Queen Victoria that it is doubtful if the Great Britain would continue to enjoy the days as enjoyed by her during heyday of Victoria. The Britain suffered a lot, lost the3 great empire due to this war, 192000 women became widowed and 400000 children orphaned. Even then P M lost his elder son, future PM lost his son every high and low participated in this war not for one year but for more than 4 years. Rudyard Kipling lost his only son John Kipling^ He was John to all the world , but he was all world to us^ This is why this book is unique. It is good that a chapter has been inserted in it namely ^Not this tide^
^Has anyone else has world of him
Not this tide
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing and this tide^ Rudyard Kipling from My boy Jack
This book is well researched and written in simple language showing how harmful this War was for Great Britain and how the people differed. It was the greatness of its people who endured the pain with fortitude, courage and dignity even other countries left in mid as Russia. I enjoyed the book and recommend that those who have literally taste should compulsorily read it

ks chaturvedi
Mathura India
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars moving and thought provoking
There is an excellent review in Amazon titled 'not what it says on the the tin' I read it and initially chuntered because at start the book seemed to be very much about the... Read more
Published 8 months ago by oto_jo
5.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Story of Folly
This is a book that everyone should read throughout the world - there would never be a war again. A story of human waist at the behest of leaders and senior service personnel. Read more
Published 11 months ago by C. S. M. Banwell
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable Anti-War account of The First World War
Hochschild has a lively style. His informative account is balanced and informative, concerning the anti-war perspective around 1914-18. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Anthony Roger Goodwin
3.0 out of 5 stars A good book but suffers from a lack of focus...
I enjoyed this book, but I think it suffers from a lack of focus, of not entirely being sure what it sets out to be. Read more
Published 19 months ago by C. Ball
5.0 out of 5 stars A view of history that's about people...
An unusual & engrossing read. It's not an historical accountant's report of which division moved where, the efficiency of various weapons or the inhuman tactical brilliance or... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Dr D
4.0 out of 5 stars Impressionistic history well done
I was initially rather annoyed by this book. Like so many I am well read on World War One and have visited the Western battlefields. What that means is I know lots of "facts. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Benjamin Girth
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