56. A Short History of World War I: James L. Stokesbury

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56. A Short History of World War I: James L. Stokesbury

Post  Patguy on Wed Dec 30, 2009 2:19 am

“Though the subsequent course of the war made German ideas of the peace entirely academic, it is worth noting the kind of terms they would have demanded had they won the war. In the west they wanted Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Longwy-Briey ore-field area incorporated into Germany proper; Holland and France would both become economic satellites and eventually succumb to a greater German Empire. In the east, where they were dictating terms to the Russians, they wanted Courland, Livonia, Estonia, Lithuania, and all of Poland incorporated into Germany; Austria-Hungary as a satellite state—so much for allies; Rumania, Bulgaria, and Turkey tied to and subordinate to Germany. They expected to dominate the eastern Mediterranean, the Aegean, the Black, and the Baltic seas and turn all the lands bordering them into dependents. What remained of Russia was to be an economic colony of Germany. They wanted a huge central African empire and command of all the sea routes to it, and economic penetration and naval domination of South America. In Asia they wanted New Guinea and Samoa back and a better deal in China, and they were willing to replace Britain as the ally, and partner in exploitation, of Japan. Their peace, had they won it, would have been more of a ‘Diktat’ than they subsequently accused the Allies of. The victors do not always write the history books.”

To which we can add, not many countries came out of WWI holding the moral high ground.

Although in 2009 I read Barbara Tuchman’s The Guns of August, watched the 10-episode series The First World War, and played the GMT board game Paths of Glory, I still had only the foggiest idea what caused and sustained WWI, so I went back to basics. Professor Stokesbury’s book is a respectable, well-written short history of the war, and I’m happy to report that I am now only mildly confused about what the whole fucking thing was about.

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