Something to add to my reading as I complete a Masters degree with the University of Birmingham on the First World War. We should interpret the past, we cannot help to do so, whether it is in a book or TV programme. It’s how we create meaning, from our experience, of the events.
David Reynolds, author of ‘The Long Shadow’
At one point in The Long Shadow, his impressive survey of the impact of the First World War and how interpretations of its meaning have changed in the past century, David Reynolds quotes fellow-historian John Keegan. Concluding his The First World War (1998), Keegan mused that the First ‘World War remained ‘a mystery’, both in its origins and its course. ‘Why’, he asked, ‘did a prosperous continent, at the height of its success . . . choose to risk all it had won for itself and all it offered to the world on the lottery of a vicious and local internecine conflict?’
For me, too, that sums up why the conflict continues to gnaw away in my conciousness, and why, as the centennial of the war’s beginning approaches, I keep reading about it. But, it seems, the more I read, the less the mystery dissolves: the conflict continues…
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