History Repeating: The Great War Plus Five


22 thoughts on “History Repeating: The Great War Plus Five

  1. Wow Fuzz. Thanks for this substantive post, I was only expecting people to jot down a paragraph or two, but this is great! I am on my way out, so I will be back for a better look at this post, but just wanted to say thanks right now. 😀

  2. May I add ‘A testament of Youth’ Vera Brittain.. to your list a really important ‘feminist’ text of this era.

    The ‘Great War’ (is that an Oxymoron?).. was indeed ‘history’ turning.. War became truely nasty and millions suffered unspeakable deaths and pain. Both my Grandfathers fought (and survived this war).. and seeing fields of poppys always causes me to think and give homage to those that died. It was also the this war that began to turn the tide for womens rights… and also scientific advancement…

    Makes you think doesn’t it? A good choice Fuzzy… one I might have chosen myself….

  3. Wow indeed, Fuzz. I was going to post something on this, but am a bit gob-smacked now. But you have certainly put your finger on the key points of the era, without all the detail of the war itself. Great stuff!

  4. VERY interesting and VERY well written. I may give this a try soon. 😀 I think sometimes folks who say they hate history have never been shown the impact of history on the world of today and how it ties in. You’ve done a great job of that here. 😀

  5. Bravo, dear lady – this is one of the reasons I love some of these blog-contests; it enables us to meet new people through the pages of our online friends.

    You have touched on several reasons why WWI – and the pivotal era surrounding the turn of the 20th — was the twilight of one era and the beginning of another.

    It’s long been said that we traded wonder for reason then. You’ve done a good job of telling us why, and referring your readers to some very good literature on the topic.

    Thanks again!

  6. That’s an awesome post! I read a book this past summer entitled “Over There” by Thomas Fleming. It touched on all the points you brought up.

  7. Hehe, Fabi, well, it turns out that it’s difficult for me to jot down a paragraph or two about anything. Sigh. But especially impossible about something I love, and history, particularly this time period . . . I had a lot more in there about the rats and rain and horses sinking and about the airplanes and mental health facilities. Had to make some serious cuts, though. 🙂 What a grand idea you had!

    Treesparrow, oh YES!! As soon as I read your comment, I knew I had to include Vera Brittain’s book; it’s very good in that it gives us not only a woman’s perspective but also one that is strong. And doesn’t she end up going over to France at some point? As a nurse or some such? It’s been ages since I read that, but I’ve still got it on one of my shelves! And thanks so much for the compliments, too, and yes, the turning of the tide for women’s rights was a big draw for me, too. Women didn’t receive the right to vote over here until 1920, but without that war, those changes I’ve outlined, it wouldn’t have happened. Maybe at all. That really set a lot of things in motion (not the least of which being WWI, of course, and all that did to change our lives and societies). Oooh, love history!!

    Wow, I’m humbled Neil. You’re among my favorite writers and thinkers out here, so that’s quite the compliment indeed. And yes, I didn’t want to bore everyone silly waxing on about the war itself (well, I did, but I cut a lot). Maybe I will, though, one of these days: fascinating stuff going on then. And horrifying.

    Okay, Kerry, that’s the best thing you could possibly say to me!! *hugs*

    LO, thanks SO much!! I get so befuddled by people who claim to hate history, particularly if they take ANY interest in current events. It’s not quite so shocking if I learn that they also hate literature, science, the arts, etc. Not shocking in the sense that they don’t like history; it IS shocking in the sense that they live in some bizarre bubble of which I have no knowledge (or interest).

    Thanks so much, Astra, and it’s grand to see you here on my page! I always read your comments on Fabi’s with great interest and can’t wait to go and read your own contribution to this challenge. Wonder for reason . . . perhaps. And in some ways quite the opposite (I’m thinking, as usual, about the literary output of the era, but then, a lot of it did harken back to the Ancient Greeks, those most reasoned of all). Thanks again for your great comment!

    Hey Boog, thanks for the wonderful comment (I’m so lucky to have such wonderful readers, huh?). I will just have to get this Fleming book; is it as good as the Fussell? Or totally different? Oooh, off to amazon now . . . Thanks!

  8. Great post, I always wanted to read the American history, till now all I know is from the few literature books and movies, I will keep this bookmarked and check the books you have recommended. I read Great Gatsby but not his other novels, so I will check them out also. 1910 has a new meaning, I think it turned out good atleast for a while. Another year 2001 has definitely changed us. Thanks Doc for another great well written post. Cheers.

  9. A long one though, but well worth the read. You really have great narrative style. “We had change, and we had it big. And for better or worse, we live in the shadow of that historical moment, because we, as humans, changed on or about 1910.” Your words best sums it up Fuzzy. Guess just goes to bring out the fact that we lie on our beds just exactly how we make it.

  10. I’m over from Fabi’s page, and what a great post!!! This era fascinates me, and I love the way you traced the roaring Twenties back to the year 1910. Really a fascinating timeline, and I love reading about that era. I’ve read many of the books on your list, although I confess that “Ulysses” was just too much for me! I’ve always been amazed by the Twenties, and saddened at the regression that seemed to take place, especially for women, after that time. It’s amazing how so many of these events link together. I don’t know as much about WWI as I should, but you have me quite curious to find out more.

    In reading these blogs, I wonder, not for the first time, why some people don’t like history. So many stories, so much human drama. This is a great example, and thanks for the interesting blog.

  11. Ok, I’m back on this post now I have had time to read and digest it. It’s a brillantly written piece Fuzzy, it really is. I think people sometimes write with a certain freedom, an elan as you might call it, when they are writing on topics they know something about, and topics they are passionate about.

    I did mention in my original post that WWI has never quite ignited my interest in the same way as WW2. Not sure why that is, but given you have listed some reading, they might be just the books to create some interest in this period for me. I think you have helped with that too, in linking the WWI with the history either side of it. The rupture between the Victorian era and modernity.

    I have studied some of the war poets at school actually, especiall Owen and Sasson, and I love The Great Gatsby and what Woolf I have read. Some of the other stuff sounds pretty hard, Faulkner and Joyce I am only aware of from other peoples reluctance or aject failure to read them. I have seen Regeneration on the shelves at the local bookstore and always wondered whether it was any good, so maybe that will be an easier starting point.

    One of the other poems we studied at school was A E Hausman’s ‘The Shropshire Lad’, written at the end, the death knell if you like of Victorian England. It always struck me as rather prescient in a way, and I always remembered this verse [well not word for word, I had to go look it up. I ain’t that sad!]:

    On the idle hill of summer,
    Sleepy with the flow of streams,
    Far I hear the steady drummer
    Drumming like a noise in dreams.

    Far and near and low and louder
    On the roads of earth go by,
    Dear to friends and food for powder,
    Soldiers marching, all to die.

    Welcome to the modern world!

  12. Wow..informative, educational…will go shower and think about this and have a go myself on my fave era although I expect mine to be rather more flowery – you know me!! Love and light Fuzzy

  13. Hi Fuzzy,
    You always leave me thinking that I should digest your words and come back later to comment. You write with such depth. But sometimes I don’t get back to comment. So. . . .
    Great post. I am not a history buff but I am very interested in human behavior. But then again, to really understand human behavior, one needs to dig into history so I guess they do go hand in hand.
    My grandfathers were both in WWI and while I never heard any of their stories, I heard plenty about how it changed things back home from my Grandmothers and my parents.
    I can certainly feel your passion for history and appreciate it.
    Very interesting thoughts and well said.

  14. That was a wonderful post Fuzzy…I truly enjoyed it. So well written…..I, too love history and I swear if I had more time this week I would do a blog on the Civil War…my personal favorite…what a great idea! But alas…I have mothers to run on errands and doctors appointments to keep so I’ll have to pass. But thanks for sharing this one with us….educational and engrossing….top of my Fuzzy favorites list!

  15. Hey!, I wrote about Mexican History a while ago (http://blog.360.yahoo.com/blog-.WGJkkcyerSFvjz1iMl6hvcK07GxRpfcLw0-?cq=1&p=361#comments), the part of history of my country that I like the most is about The Mexican Revolution where men like Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata fought for the poor people. My grandpa used to tell me a lot of stories me about those days.
    Mexican history is full of wars, along with the blog I posted a little video and at the end of the video there’s a leyend that says “what Mexico needs is more soccer strikers and less generals” LOL.
    Universal History from Roman’s and Egypcians till Gulf war is exciting.

  16. I guess it would always be relative to how one relates to change in how we look at history itself and how it reaches out to us; as you say, it’s your own perception of change.

    But for me there are two era’s in history that will always stand out for me in how people changed. One is Victorian England; OK, a lot of squalor and dank stuff, but things were beginning to change and history itself ‘walks us through’ what those changes meant in practical terms and in how we forded our way onwards from there up to this day. I always see it to be a time for awakening for ladies even at this time in history; if not this, then a time when ladies began to awaken from slumber. But regardless of how we look back at this era it has to be said that a *lot* of happenings were abroad and, historically, none of it was bad as a movement of Class and/or discrimination … from the rich to a movement began.

    And yet I can say the same of the ‘60’s. It was a revolutionary time and also a time when we learned a great deal which took us ahead. Yes, we had ‘Flower Power’ and really ‘cute’ drugs but even out of that a great deal was learned.

    I think in both it can be said that what we learned from, and of, those times they weren’t simply a fashion or something that was here today then gone tomorrow; they weren’t something we had to take to task, but we either would embrace the change or reject it … in both cases we embraced them and moved onwards from those which added to our historical foundations; in other words, they weren’t temporal but rather a natural progression of what our history is.

    I can see what you say of the war, of course I can and it changed a lot of people in a lot of different ways. But, and for me, if asked what stands out in English History then these two era’s come to mind; and I am so happy to say I was around for the latter ‘revolution.’ In English history many people would choose many different era’s to speak of significant change brought about purely by Social movements; a lot of which started at the top and worked their way down to the lower classes and happened with great ease as Society itself changed purely as a ‘revolution of evolution’ with nothing to force things to happen … only time itself, of course.

    Great blog Fuzzy 🙂


  17. Gawd… the literature surrounding the so called World wars scares me… for the boredom the monotonous subject brings to me, the 80s kid. By the time I was growing up the action and the consequences of the war had died down. Today, I understand WAR LITERATURE as something that should be tagged ANTI WAR Literature, you know stuff like The Naked and the Dead (Norman Mailer), The Things they carried (Tim O’ Brien) Both of these I chose not to read. Too much of same thing.. or maybe not.. I gotta find out. lol

    I have read Farewell to Arms. Good stuff. But not really a war novel. Then I have read Birds without Wings. Huge novel about World War first and how it broke up Ottoman Empire (one of the most dramatic events/results of the (your) ‘Great War’)

    The Second war seems to have produced more literature etc. than the first one… I mean it exceeded the first one in sheer action, momentum, consequence… Nazism, Holocaust, Japanese ravaging the whole of Asia and Pacific, Pearl Harbor, developing of new military technologies including nuclear bombs, establishing of United Nations, end of British and French colonies, making of DOZENS OF new free countries in Africa and Asia including stamping the State of Israel on Palestinian land. emergence of NATO, Warsaw Pact, THE IRON CURTAIN, rise of Stalinist Russia, Communist China… COLD WAR. It was all great deal of material for fiction, non- fiction, Journalism and even for TV and Hollywood.

    Absorbing post. Too many thoughts, ideas, events to chew on.

  18. What a fantastic blog on an era that has always amazed me with spirit of the men in the trenches, and the total disregard by goverments of their young mens lives.
    There were wars before this where many young men were maimed by modern weapons (American civil war, napoleonic wars, boer wars ect ect ect) but i think it was the sheer scale of the conflict that was staggering.
    It is even more of a shame that france had to grab land off of Germany, that Poland was arrayed in such a way as to split away part of Germany, and that the UK and USA didnt help in the rebuilding of Germany after the war.
    Had these things been done differently, then there is a good chance that the Nazis would never have risen to power, and a second generation wouldnt have had to give their tomorows for our todays.
    (Thankyou for a great blog)

  19. Thanks, Chris, and yes, I have to agree that 2001 marked huge change, and in one fell swoop, really. Let me know how you get on with those books! 🙂

    So true, Mee, we do indeed have to live with the results of our actions .. . sometimes good, sometimes not so good. Thanks for the fab words!

    Welcome Red, so nice to see you here. And I very much agree that this and the time period following it, were fascinating times. Between the Great Depression and the re-repression of women, even following the vote in 1920, it’s just too compelling for words. You should write it up! 🙂
    Loved your post on the Civil Rights Movement.

    Hehe, Fabi, “elan” you say? 😉 Thanks so much, this is very much “the” time period for me, and I seriously could have gone on for ages (or pages) about it, but it was getting long enough. Anyway, I do see that WWII was far more pivotal in a lot of ways and certianly more . . . just more. Isn’t it funny how we are attracted to certain eras and not to others, to certain countries and not to others? I find that fascinating in itself, really. And YES! Thank you for including the Hausman poem, can’t think how I forgot him! 🙂 Thanks so much, too, for coming up with this wonderful challenge! Yay!

    Oh! Big big huggs, Ali! And you have must do your flowery version of a historical time; I bet it will be brilliant!

    Gosh, Nancy, thanks so much. I don’t think I’m particularly deep, but it’s nice to hear all the same. :))

    Oh! Rivergirl, thank you so much. And DO do your Civil War post, just whenever you can. I love that era, too, and think you’d do a wonderful job on it. And I’m humbled that you even have a Fuzzy favorites, let alone that this tops it. Yay!! 🙂

    Okay, Vito, is it in English? Teehee. I’ll have to go and check that out this weekend. I’d love to read about the Mexican Revolution, as it’s not something I’ve learned a great deal about. Thanks for the kind words, too. :))

    FrankiE, it’d be great if you blogged a History Repeating on either of those times . . . neither has been a big favorite of mine, but I suspect that you would show it in a light that might change that! :))

    Elmo, so nice to see you again! And yes, I can see that the interiority of much modern lit would be boring, so much work left to the reader. Take A Farewell to Arms as an example, you see this is not a war novel, and yet, it very much is. Not crashing bombs or wounded soldiers (or baby water buffalo–I love Tim O’Brien’s Vietnam stuff, too), but angst and internal struggles over the definitions of honor, valor, courage. The very real picture of what becomes of the young men who fight, how it affects them and their choices. Did you ever read Hemingway’s “Big Two-Hearted River”? It’s a war story like no other . . . no war at all, just Nick (the protagonist) fishing in Michigan . . . in the shadow of his war experience, which of course doesn’t end or stop when he leaves the war. Ooooh, or “Soldiers Home”? Again, no front line action, just the homecoming of Krebs, and what the war has done to him, how its changed him and how difficult adjustment to civilian life, indeed, how difficult it is even to communicate with other soldiers. War stories one and all. Sigh. I love this stuff. But you are so right, some great literature came out of both Vietnam and World War II (Vonnegut!), and it was a bigger splash in so many ways. Thanks for the comments, you always get my brain moving! 🙂

    Hi, Lest, and welcome. It’s always nice to see new faces around here, and thank you so much for the wonderful words here. I very much agree about the spirit of the men in the trenches; I almost included a short paragraph about the Christmas Truce, but that just led to my waxing on about how war forces us to dehumanize the “enemy” and on. 🙂 But yes, I am fascinated by this time period. And I love to speculate about the ‘tween years, too, between the World Wars, so your comment hits home! Thanks

  20. Great post from the great princess! 😀 I love the list of books and authors you included *applause* I will, however, stay as far away from Faulkner as possible.

    In most of my history classes, we tend to gloss over WWI like it was no big deal and jump right into WWII. Hold on…WWI was one of the causes of WWII…so what is going on here?

    As you pointed out quite nicely, WWI was a time of huge changes. Among these changes, the fates of individual countries became more intertwined than ever before. The US got a chance to play ball on the world playing field for the first time. Also, and what is most shocking to me, is that we were able to come up with some of the most deadly weapons in history to kill eachother with. Deadly gases and trench warfare…just the thought makes me shiver.

  21. Princess! I’m so glad you liked it; honestly, your history blogs are so fab, I take that as high praise. I know you didn’t mean anything, but it’s funny how your words came out in the US getting a chance to play ball . . . we came in late (1917), most of our fatalities were because of the flu (a nasty strain of Spanish influenza, I believe). We so weren’t flexing our muscles, though that’s how it turned out. I think it’s interesting that we are seen as such “war mongers” (not by ourselves, I think), but that we always wait and wait and don’t actually rush to war. The Great War, World War II (we were forced into that by the bombing of Pearl Harbor, or may never have been glorified as freeing all those concentration camp survivors in Germany), Vietnam . . . always late coming in. Sure, quick to “Get R Done”, but not chomping at the bit for war. I kind of like that about us. 🙂

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