Saturday, January 05, 2013

Book 51: To End All Wars

While this is the third Adam Hochschild book I've read, it is actually the first one that caught my eye.  I simply wasn't willing to spend money on a hardcover for an author I was unfamiliar with, and started reading some of his older books first, both of which I loved.  While this one was just as informative and well written as the other two, I think I slightly preferred the other two.  However, I think this may have a bit to do with the subject matter.  I am very much interested in World War I but I already know a bit about the topic.  As a result, I learned a lot from this book but not as much as when I read his book about the British abolition movement or the Belgians in the Congo, topics I knew basically nothing about.
Still, Hochschild takes a different approach to World War I.  While he talks about the war to help contextualize everything that is going on, his actual topic is the anti-war movement, and the pacifists.  While they heroically spoke out against a war that now everyone would agree had absolutely no point and simply led to another war, at the time they were villainized and seen as criminals.  One of the pacifists in this book was actually an important person in his book King Leopold's Ghost, the investigative journalist that helped bring the Congo's blight to the public eye.  Some of the people that Hochschild introduces have various faults and seem extreme in their views, but there were others whose fate it was impossible not to feel bad about.  I would definitely recommend this one, because it adds a perspective that isn't often focused on during studies of history.

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