'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
`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' --Sunday Times
'...it 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
`charged and moving ... thoroughly researched, wide-ranging in its curiosities, and always compassionate and sympathetic'
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.