CRF Blog

An Armistice, Not a Peace

by Bill Hayes

In An Armistice, Not a Peace for the New York Times Book Review, Harold Evans reviews To Hell and Back: Europe 1914–1949 by Ian Kershaw.

Why did Europe go mad? The four horsemen of the apocalypse Kershaw identifies in his nightmare history are a dramatic rise of ethnic-racist nationalism; angry, conflicting demands for territorial revisionism; acute class conflict that took on sharper focus by the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia; and a prolonged crisis of capitalism that many thought terminal. The turmoil of the interwar years would have tested a Bismarck, a Charlemagne. It troubles Kershaw, as it should all of us, that the seminal catastrophe of World War I could have been avoided, and the second war it bequeathed was as much the result of moral cowardice and political miscalculation in the West as in the rampant new imperialisms of Germany, Italy and Japan. Might we not blunder again? [more]

For a free classroom lesson with numerous activities on the beginning of World War I, see A Fire Waiting to Be Lit: The Origins of World War I from our Common Core Archive.