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Peacemakers Six Months that Changed The World: The Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and Its Attempt to End War Paperback – 1 Mar 2003

4.5 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray; New Ed edition (1 Mar. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0719562376
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719562372
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 11,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

In the very first words of her prize-winning book, Peacemakers, Margaret Macmillan says, "In 1919 Paris was the capital of the world." In the aftermath of the First World War, the great and good of all nations were there to reshape the world. New nations sprang into existence during lunches in expensive Parisian hotels; borders that had lasted centuries were altered with the stroke of a pen; empires that had outlived their sell-by date were unceremoniously dismantled. Presiding over this wholesale remaking of the globe were Woodrow Wilson, Lloyd George and the French prime minister Georges Clemenceau.

Margaret Macmillan's pen portraits of the Big Three, and of many of the other extraordinary delegates to the Peace Conference--from Lawrence of Arabia to the Polish pianist and politician Ignace Paderewski--are superb. Her own writing is engagingly witty and she has a knack for finding apposite and funny quotes to enhance it. This is one of the very few books on diplomacy and international relations that can make a reader laugh out loud. The liveliness and vigour of her writing rests on the solid foundation of her wide-ranging knowledge. The delegates presumed not only to solve the problems of war-ravaged Europe but were happy to turn their attentions to Africa, the Middle East and China. Margaret Macmillan seems equally comfortable discussing the intricacies of Balkan boundaries, the creation of new states like Czechoslovakia, war between Greece and Turkey, Zionist settlement in Palestine, Japanese ambitions in the Pacific and a host of other subjects. Above all she works hard to be fair to the participants in the conference.

We know that an even more terrible war was only 20 years in the future. They didn't and they were all working sincerely to create a world in which war would be impossible. Macmillan is rightly dismissive of the notion that the peace devised at Paris was so flawed that another war was inevitable. Her book not only does justice to the Paris Peace Conference but it's also massively readable. That's quite an achievement. --Nick Rennison --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Lively, fascinating and provocative. (Choice)

Engagingly written and well-researched (Stand To Magazine)

Margaret MacMillian deservedly won the 2002 Samuel Johnson Prize for this book that has been reprinted in timely fashion (Belgravia)

Deserving winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize, this pacey and racy account of the statesmen who reshaped the world at the Paris conference of 1919 puts the dash back into diplomatic history (THE INDEPENDENT Magazine)

Every peacemaker sent to determine the future of Iraq should regard it as an essential piece of luggage (THE GUARDIAN)

"Enthralling ... detailed, fair, unfailingly lively ... full of brilliant pen-portraits." Allan Massie. (Daily Telegraph)

Exactly the sort of book I like: written with pace and flavoured with impudence based on solid scholarship. (Sunday Times)

"A fascinating piece of history." Tony Blair. (Guardian)

"Magnificent ... she gives a full, colourful and erudite description of the participants and their motives." Simon Heffer. (Literary Review)

'This is how to write history...so readable that it appeals as much to laymen who have never read a word of history as it does to specialists in the field' - Dan Snow ('My Six Best Books' column). (Daily Express)

'A terrific piece of writing ... full of wonderful insights and portraits of the statesmen and women of the day' (listed among 'My Six Best Books' by Chris Patten) (Chris Patten, Daily Express)

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Customer Reviews

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By A Customer on 2 Jan. 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book reads well and flows nicely, with plenty of lively quotations from Clemenceau, Lloyd George, Wilson and others, as well as some entertaining anecdotes, such as that concerning the Hungarian aristocrat hired by the Albanians whose main interest turned out to be in the tooth structure of dinosaurs. Very interesting, too, to read about the sheer insensitivity and arrogance of the German delegation after it arrived in Versailles to receive the peace terms. Inevitably, perhaps, it is stronger on some topics (Franco-German borders, Bolshevism, Poland) than others (the Balkans). But it does an excellent job in conveying the sense of a small group of statesmen battling against the odds not to let their instinctive mistrust of each other derail their task of reconstructing the world order. Measured against Wilson's 14 points, much of what they did was illogical or unjust. And there were serious miscalculations, such as the encouragement of Greek ambitions in Turkey. But could anyone have done it better?
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Format: Paperback
500 pages that deserve 5 stars. They cover the personalities of the peacemakers, and the two realities in the 1919 world: the one in Paris and the other on the ground. For one book to cover comfortably each facet in such detail surpassed my expectations. I now understand why Hungary lost the Banat, the Greek disaster in Smyrna and the importance of Ataturk, why Iraq includes so many Kurds, why Balfour was so influential in Palestine, how Japan got Shantung and the Chinese demonstrators turned to Communism, why Yap was fleetingly important, how Lebanon appeared, the time-bomb of German resentment over Upper Silesia, why the Slovaks never felt at one with the Czechs ... at least at that time the world still shrank from the expulsion of minorities and frowned on forcible assimilation. A slight disappointment was with the maps as they are cramped and few, as this was the time when so many borders appeared (on a whim sometimes) but have lasted right into this new century. The long war between capitalist West and communist East was just starting - and lingering German strength about to burst forth again. The off-hand treatment of non-European peoples also still haunts the West today. So much for an end to war and a just peace.
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As if the First World War was not bad enough, what the so-called Great and the Good came up with in 1919 in Paris could be considered by some to have been just as destructive. The first question to ask is why did the Allied leaders think that the end of the war heralded the start of the mass redrawing of national barriers in the way they did? OK, the German Empire had gone, as had the Austro-Hungarian, the Ottoman, and of course, the Russian, but the wholesale reordering of nations was something else.
This is a brilliantly written book, as far removed from the dusty tomes of academia as you can get, and the author handles her material, of which there is a lot, very well. The ins and outs of the negotiations, and the machinations of the personae dramatis, takes some getting your head around, but for me this book is really about why and how the post-WW1 map ended up how it did, and the big question 'Why did we end up with WW2 20-years after?
This is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of the 20th century, and for those more specifically interested in the causes of WW2.
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By A Customer on 11 Sept. 2002
Format: Paperback
An excellent and fascinating description of real politic in the days of big power hegemony. But buyers of the paperback edition should be aware that it does not contain the chapter notes , apparently by agreement between author and publisher. The result is a maddening frustration for the reader.
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Format: Paperback
Without duplicating the other reviews, a good read which for me highlighted the disconnect between the old world order of backroom deals and verbal agreements which sustained empires lead by a relatively small political class, and the new world of nationalism and unsustainable expectations in the name of "self determination".

What comes shining through is the virtual chaos of the big three when it came to making and trying to sustain policy, and the way in which the smaller / emerging nations and sub-nations were able to manipulate these very powerful men to achieve their ends - most often in contradiction of some other verbal agreement made the afternoon before.

Enough of the serious stuff - an enjoyable read which kept the interest in the subject right to the end
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The victors of World War I had the best intentions to succeed but they left Europe in a bigger mess than before. That's the message I took home from reading Margaret MacMillan's book on the 1919 Paris Peace Conference.

MacMillan does a fine job in covering all the aspects of the Paris conference, and although she naturally spends a lot of time on Britain, France and the US, she does mention all the other parties involved and the politics behind and between all of them. She then covers virtually every single nation, what they came to Paris for - territory-wise - and what deal they went home with. The effects of some of these `settlements' we still have to content with today, the recent civil war in Yugoslavia and the mess in the Middle East among them.

The other aspect I liked about the book is the clear and easy style in which it is written. This book is just excellent.
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