Not Just Any Book

Two questions immediately suggest themselves regarding this work: Who was (or is) Pandora (and her box), and do we really need yet another book on World War I, detailing its causes, alliances, generals, battles—replete with maps, photos, charts and so forth?  Yes, 2018 is the 100th anniversary of the war’s end (November 11, at 11:00 a.m., Central European Time, to be precise).  The answer to the first question needn’t be revealed, as Chronicles’ readership is familiar with the works of Hesiod, but suffice it to say that Pandora’s box has come to mean any source of great and unexpected troubles.  I will treat the answer to the second question later in this review.

Much of the history of the 20th century was set in motion by the aftermath of the First World War.  Four great empires marched off into history, and a fifth, the British, was saddled with crushing debt.  And even though the Great War was fought on land in Europe, Asia, and parts of Africa, and at sea in the North Atlantic, it claimed over 16 million lives, both civilian and military.  It was not a true world war by comparison with the one that followed it, but the devastation it caused was unprecedented.

This book’s author, Jörn Leonhard, is a professor of West European History at the University of Freiburg.  Professor Leonhard has put together a thorough treatment of this war...

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