To End All Wars; a Story of Love, Loyalty and Rebellion 1914-1918 by Adam Hochschild

Publication Date: March 6, 2012

To End All Wars; a Story of Love, Loyalty and Rebellion 1914-1918 is a look at the oft ignored World War I moral objectors along with those people who wholeheartedly believed in the cause.

 

 

 

Is it the job of the historian to moralize and pontificate? History is propaganda written by the winners so to read a book highlighting the moral objectors is supremely interesting. To sermonize that an event already placed in history shouldn’t have happened is not appealing. People died in World War I. It happened. It’s done. It’s 100 years in the past. History is about facts and while “woulda” “shoulda” and “coulda” are nice to suggest that a war in which an estimated 37 million people (civilian and military) died was a waste of human life. Maybe. But it happened and isn’t it a disservice to chide key figures in history making portraying them as Keystone Cop archetypes. Despite my distaste at the author’s position, the story of the objectors is one that should be told and was presented with delicacy, mindful of the challenges they faced.

To End All Wars; a Story of Love, Loyalty and Rebellion 1914-1918 begins with the Boer War which took place from 1899-1902. The focus, of course, is British and the attention given to the war efforts of other countries ranges from dismissive to non-existent. Hochschild divides his attention between battlefield anecdotes and the stories of the protest movement. There’s a hero and villain mentality set. The good and just people speak out about the needless loss of life while the people whipping up frenzy for the war twirl their mustaches and rub their hands together in a metaphorical reflection of the animated Snidley Whiplash. The new information is in relation to the protestors and I think To End All Wars; a Story of Love, Loyalty and Rebellion 1914-1918 would have been more interesting had Hochschild stuck with that angle instead of diverting to well tread ground in the war effort. Powerful families are divided by ideology and people who suffered great loss that they felt was needless are painted with a loving and valiant brush.

Okay, so I’m going a little hard on the author. It’s okay to have favorites and agree with one side over the other. The problem with preference in this case is that it really is at the expense of what is, at it’s core, a pretty good book. We, as people, do tend to be for or against issues and do tend to paint the other side with the broad stroke of ignorance, at best, and cruelty, at worst. As a history of World War I, To End All Wars; a Story of Love, Loyalty and Rebellion 1914-1918 falls short but as a narration of a few key players in the effort against the war, it excels even if some of what reads as hyperbole should be taken with a grain of salt.

I’m going to call a To End All Wars; a Story of Love, Loyalty and Rebellion 1914-1918 a “must be read for oneself” book. Hochschild is well regarded as a historian and has a critically acclaimed bibliography of era and occasion focused works. Pick it up if the description appeals and let me know what you think.

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A Spy for the Union: The Life and Execution of Timothy Webster by Corey Recko

Publication Date: September 6, 2013

A Spy for the Union: The Life and Execution of Timothy Webster by Corey Recko A Spy for the Union by Corey Recko is the story of the New York Police Officer turned Pinkerton Detective turned spy for the Union forces, Timothy Webster. As a Pinkerton, he was a member of a team that uncovered a plot in 1861 to kill then President, Abraham Lincoln. As a Union spy he made valuable high-level Confederate connections before betrayal led to his execution. Continue reading A Spy for the Union: The Life and Execution of Timothy Webster by Corey Recko

Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride by Michael Wallis

Publication Date: March 17, 2008

 

Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride by Michael Wallis

Better World Books Reading Challenge – A Book that Rewrites History

Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride by Michael Wallis is a retelling of William Antrim’s story based on what is known of his life from cradle to grave and a look at the events that contributed to his outlook on life and interaction with the growing western population.

Continue reading Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride by Michael Wallis

At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson

Publication Date: May 27, 2010

 

At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill BrysonAt Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson is a collection of stories that deal with everyday historical aspects. Bill Bryson, who lives in a historic parish in Norfolk, tours his house with his readers and talks about the life of the previous owner. Let At Home: A Short History of Private Life take you on a journey into the past

Continue reading At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson

The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom

Publication Date: January 1, 2006

 

The Hiding Place by Corrie ten BoomBetter World Book Challenge 3 – A Childhood Favorite

In The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom, the author and her family lived in Haarlem in the Netherlands in 1940 when the Nazis invaded. As Calvinists, they saw it as their duty to help God’s people and set about creating a hiding place in their home for Jewish people that came to them for refuge. The Hiding Place follows their quest to save those they could and their ultimate capture and internment.  Continue reading The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom

Twelve Days In May: Freedom Ride 1961 by Larry Dane Brimner

Publication Date: October 24, 2017

 

Twelve Days In May: Freedom Ride 1961 by Larry Dane BrimnerTwelve Days In May: Freedom Ride 1961 by Larry Dane Brimnerchronicles the journey of 13 black and white Civil Rights Activists from Washington D.C. to New Orleans. The riders planned a protest of the southern states ignoring two Supreme Court rulings that segregation on buses crossing state lines was unconstitutional. The protest was meant to be peaceful and shine a light on the nonobservance of the rulings in the south. What met them on their journey was violence and hate.    Continue reading Twelve Days In May: Freedom Ride 1961 by Larry Dane Brimner

Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution by David Carter

Publication date: May 25, 2010

 

Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution by David CarterStonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution by David Carter, is about a series of riots broke out at the Stonewall Inn in response to a raid by the New York Police Vice Squad Public Morals Division from June 28 to July 3, 1969.    Continue reading Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution by David Carter

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Release Date: February 2, 2010

 

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca SklootIn 1951, Tobacco Farmer Henrietta Lacks died of cervical cancer. Before her death, cervical cells were harvested without her consent and became the first human cells to grow in a lab. They would grow an entire generation of new cells in a 24-hour period. Over the years those cells, known as HeLa to scientists, became a hot commodity in the scientific world standing at the forefront of some of the greatest medical breakthroughs, but Henrietta Lacks remained largely unknown. Unknown — until her daughter started looking to find out more about the mother she’d never known. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot is her story.    Continue reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict by Austin Reed

Publication Date: January 24, 2017

 

The Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict by Austin ReedThe Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict by Austin Reed is the nineteenth-century account of his life as a free, black man born in 1823 who spent his life between hard labor, indentured servitude and incarceration at America’s first industrial prison. The recently discovered manuscript written when Reed was still in prison was authenticated by Yale scholar, Caleb Smith and includes letters written by Reed later in his life.    Continue reading The Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict by Austin Reed

Adventures of an American Girl in Victorian London by Elizabeth L. Banks

Publication Date: November 7, 2016

 

Adventures of an American Girl in Victorian London by Elizabeth L. Banks

In Adventures of an American Girl in Victorian London by Elizabeth L. Banks, it’s 1892, an American journalist named Elizabeth Banks launched the ultimate social experiment. She lived side by side with the people of Victorian England working in all manners of jobs from street sweeper to maid for some of the most demanding matrons in London. She also posed as an heiress to get the perspective of the elite. Adventures of an American Girl in London was originally published in 1894.  Continue reading Adventures of an American Girl in Victorian London by Elizabeth L. Banks