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DAVIDGILMOUR Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire Alex von Tunzelmann The Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan Yasmin Khan CHARLESALLEN Gandhi: The Man, His People and the Empire Rajmohan Gandhi SANKARSHANTHAKUR India After Gandhi: The History of the World’s Largest Democracy Ramachandra Guha Holy Warriors: A Journey into the Heart of Indian Fundamentalism Edna Fernandes DAVIDSMITH The Book of Love: In Search of the Kamasutra James McConnachie
LUCYLETHBRIDGE Mrs Woolf and the Servants: The Hidden Heart of Domestic Service Alison Light VIRGINIAIRONSIDE Clean: A History of Personal Hygiene and Purity Virginia Smith
JANERIDLEY Singled Out: How Two Million Women Survived Without Men After the First World War Virginia Nicholson DAVIDCESARANI The Lucifer Effect: How Good People Turn Evil Philip Zimbardo JWMTHOMPSON The Plot Against Pepys James Long and Ben Long JAMES FLEMINGONFOURBOOKS ABOUTTREES LEOMCKINSTRY The Industrial Revolutionaries: The Creation of the Modern World 1776 –1914 Gavin Weightman MICHAELCOREN Churchill’s Cigar: A Lifelong Love Affair Through War and Peace Stephen McGinty
SAMLEITH My Revolutions Hari Kunzru JOHNDUGDALE Away Amy Bloom JOHNDEFALBE The Kingdom of Ashes Robert Edric FRANCIS KING Secrets of the Sea Nicholas Shakespeare FRANCES WILSON The Birthday Party Panos Karnezis CHRISTOPHERHART The Dig John Preston MATTTHORNE Absurdistan Gary Shteyngart LINDYBURLEIGH The Sirens of Baghdad Yasmina Khadra DANGWYNNE-JONES Coward on the Beach James Delingpole SIMONBAKERONFIRSTNOVELS
SUSANCROSLAND CROSSWORD 4444 BOOKSHOP 3377 CLASSIFIEDS 6644
PETERWASHINGTONis General Editor of the Everyman’s Library.
DAVIDCESARANI is research professor in history at Royal Holloway, University of London. His most recent book is Eichman: His Life and Crimes.
JANERIDLEYis writing a biography of King Edward VII, to be published by Chatto & Windus.
MICHAELBURLEIGHis gradually finishing a history of terrorism to be published next year by HarperPress. He has been visiting Italy for thirty years.
MAXEGREMONT’s biography of Siegfried Sassoon was published in 2005. He is now working on a book about twentieth-century East Prussia.
A C GRAYLING’s Towards the Light is published in September by Bloomsbury.
CHARLES ALLEN’s India and the Making of Rudyard Kipling 1865– 1900is published in November by Little, Brown.
FRANCIS KINGhas just published a new novel, With My Little Eye (Arcadia).
SANKARSHANTHAKURis Executive Editor of Tehelka, a Delhi-based newsweekly.
MICHAEL CORENis an author and broadcaster living in Canada.
ANDREWLYCETThas just completed a biography of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, which will be published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson next month.
EVANMAWDSLEYis Professor of International History at the University of Glasgow. He is the author of Thunder in the East: The Nazi-Soviet War, 1941-1945(2005).
The Literary Review, incorporating Quarto, is published monthly from: 44 Lexington Street, London W1F 0LW Tel: 020 7437 9392 Fax: 020 7734 1844 ISSN 0144 4360 © All subscription enquiries and changes of address to: Literary Review Subscriptions, FREEPOST RRGR-ASHK-BTSL, Unit 14, 1-11 Willow Lane, Mitcham CR4 4NA Tel: 020 8687 3840 Fax: 020 8687 3841. UK Subscription Rate £32, Europe £39, rest of the world air mail only £54 (US$104) USA Airspeed subscription price is £39 (US$75) per annum. Periodical pre-paid at Champlain NY (USPS004218). All advertising enquiries to: Tom Fleming, Literary Review, 44 Lexington Street, London W1F 0LW Tel: 020 7437 9392 Printed by The Friary Press, Bridport Road, Dorchester, Dorset, DT1 1JL Tel: 01305 265656 Fax: 01305 263665 Distributed to newsagents worldwide by COMAG Specialist, Tavistock Works, Tavistock Rd, West Drayton, Middlesex, UB7 7QX Tel: 01895 433 800 Distributed to bookshops by Central Books, 99 Wallis Road, London E9 Tel: 020 8986 4854 www.literaryreview.co.uk subscription enquiries: email@example.com email: firstname.lastname@example.org
LITERARY REVIEW August 2007 HISTORY
TERROR OF THE TRENCHES
WORLDWARONE: A SHORTHISTORY
★By Norman Stone (Allen Lane / The Penguin Press 186pp £16.99)
DIARYOFADEADOFFICER: BEINGTHE POSTHUMOUS PAPERS OF ARTHURGRAEMEWEST
By Arthur Graeme West Introduction by Nigel Jones (Greenhill Books 192pp £19.99)
DOWENEEDanother history of the First World War? The answer in the case of Norman Stone’s short book is, yes – because of its opinionated freshness and the unusual, sharp facts that fly about like shrapnel. How good to learn, for instance, that the taxi drivers who took French troops to the front in the crisis of September 1914 – the famous taxis of the Marne – kept their meters running and that the German commander Hindenburg, dependent on his staff, thought he had so much time on his hands in August 1918 that he asked his wife to send him various classics of German literature. Such zooming into close-up lets particular incidents illustrate lasting truths, like the self-serving venality of Parisian taxi drivers, a foretaste of Vichy, and the essentially symbolic role of the vain, lazy Field Marshal who, when President of Germany in 1933, allowed himself to be manipulated into appointing Hitler as Chancellor. Norman Stone must be tired of being compared to the late A J P Taylor. But he shares that master of narrative history’s eye for the key detail and propensity for short sentences, without Taylor’s irritating, and sometimes frivolous, obsession with paradox or admiration for the old Soviet Union. Like Taylor, Stone keeps things moving, encapsulating the First World War in 157 pages. He does not concentrate too much on the western front but gives welcome attention to what happened in the east, with the Russians and (his particular expertise) the Turks. On two much-discussed questions – whether Britain should have stayed out and whether Germany was,
British gas-masked machine-gun unit on the Somme, 1916
before 1914, dominated by a sinister military caste – Stone dwells only briefly. The facts are that not only did Britain have treaty obligations to neutral Belgium, which the Germans invaded, but Germany, partly through the hysterical rhetoric of Kaiser Wilhelm II, had forfeited enough trust to make reasonable calculation of its behaviour impossible. Although admirable in its education system, culture, scientific achievement and humane attitude to its industrial workers, German policy was much influenced by a military high command. The Generals feared that the burgeoning economic strength of Russia could thwart German ambitions to be a great, perhaps the greatest, world power. It was this military dominance, and aggressive German rearmament, that created a ridiculous state of affairs – a British preference for an alliance with absolutist, politically backward Czarist Russia against what was, in many ways, the most progressive state in Europe. On the German side, as if to show this absurdity, there were last-minute doubts. The Kaiser panicked and Bethmann-Hollweg, the German Chancellor, gave orders that slow-growing elms should not be planted on his Brandenburg estate because the Russians would profit from these when they eventually took possession of it, as they did in 1945. At the start the British could send only a small Expeditionary Force to join the huge conscripted European armies, because Britain had no national service. The main British contribution was to be the Royal Navy, which imposed an economic blockade on the enemy. Stone doubts the effectiveness of this, saying that it encouraged industrial productivity in Germany. But he cannot avoid the socalled turnip winter of 1916–17, when many Germans and Austrians went hungry. This he turns slightly to Germany’s advantage, saying that it became a powerful propaganda weapon, inducing hatred of the enemy, like the bombing of the German cities in the Second World War. It was the Germans who mastered the tactics of the new mechanised warfare first. They had startling military successes, even early on, in August 1914 against the Russians in East Prussia and in 1917 against the Italians at Caporetto. In March 1918 they momentarily broke the deadlock on the western front. The British fared less well. Neither Gallipoli nor the Somme nor Passchendaele can be dressed up as great victories, even by Winston Churchill’s or Douglas Haig’s greatest admirers. Haig, admittedly, had to cope with thousands of completely
LITERARY REVIEW August 2007