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To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918 Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; First Edition edition (May 3, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618758283
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618758289
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (154 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #151,283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Product Description
World War I stands as one of history’s most senseless spasms of carnage, defying rational explanation. In a riveting, suspenseful narrative with haunting echoes for our own time, Adam Hochschild brings it to life as never before. He focuses on the long-ignored moral drama of the war’s critics, alongside its generals and heroes. Thrown in jail for their opposition to the war were Britain’s leading investigative journalist, a future winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, and an editor who, behind bars, published a newspaper for his fellow inmates on toilet paper. These critics were sometimes intimately connected to their enemy hawks: one of Britain’s most prominent women pacifist campaigners had a brother who was commander in chief on the Western Front. Two well-known sisters split so bitterly over the war that they ended up publishing newspapers that attacked each other. 

Today, hundreds of military cemeteries spread across the fields of northern France and Belgium contain the bodies of millions of men who died in the “war to end all wars.” Can we ever avoid repeating history?




Take a Look Inside To End All Wars
(Click on Images to Enlarge)


Passchendaele, the battle that cost British forces more than 260,000 dead and wounded

King George V and Queen Mary in Delhi



Emmeline Parkhurst, under arrest

John S. Clark, from circus animal tamer to underground antiwar activist

Charlotte Despard, suffragette, prison veteran, pacifist, communist, IRA supporter





A Conversation with Author Adam Hochschild

Q: In the past you’ve written mostly about issues of human rights and social justice, but now a book about the First World War—why?

A: I’ve long been obsessed and fascinated by the war, for it remade our world for the worse in almost every conceivable way. In addition to killing approximately 20 million soldiers and civilians, the war also ignited the Russian Revolution, sowed the anger that allowed Hitler to seize power, and permanently darkened our outlook on human nature and human self-destructiveness. But also I’ve always seen the war as a time when men and women faced a moral challenge as great as that faced by those who lived, say, in the time of slavery. Tens of thousands of people were wise enough to foresee, in 1914, the likely bloodshed that a war among the world’s major industrial powers would cause—and, courageously, they refused to take part.

Q: What are you trying to do in To End All Wars that makes it different from other books about the First World War?

A: Most books about any war, including this one, tell the story as a conflict between two sides. Instead, I’ve tried to tell the story of 1914–1918 as a struggle between those who felt the war was something noble and necessary, and those who felt it was absolute madness.

Q: Were there war resisters on both sides?

A: Yes. But I’ve concentrated on one country, Britain. For various reasons—a major one being that at the war’s outset Britain itself was not attacked—there was a stronger antiwar movement there than anywhere else. More than 20,000 British men of military age refused the draft, and, as a matter of principle, many also refused the non-combatant alternative service offered to conscientious objectors, such as working in war industries or driving ambulances. More than 6,000 of these young men went to prison under very harsh conditions, as did some brave, outspoken critics of the war. This is one of the largest groups of people ever behind bars for political reasons in a Western democracy—and certainly one of the most interesting. Their number included the country’s leading investigative journalist, a future Nobel Prize-winner, more than half a dozen future members of Parliament, and a former editor who would publish a clandestine prison newspaper on sheets of toilet paper.

Q: So the book is just about them?

A: Not only. I am equally intrigued by the people who fought the war, such as the generals who always thought the next battle was going to be the big breakthrough, and kept the cavalry ready to charge through the gap—which never came, of course. So my cast of characters includes both resisters and those who fought. And there are interesting ties between them. Few people know, for instance, that Britain’s commander-in-chief on the Western Front for the first year and a half of combat had a sister who was an ardent, vocal pacifist. Or that the Minister for War had close friends whose son was not only in jail as a resister but was in solitary confinement for refusing to obey prison rules. Two well-known sisters, the suffragettes Christabel and Sylvia Pankhurst, broke with each other so bitterly over the war that they each edited a newspaper that attacked the other.

Q: Are all of your characters well-known?

A: Not at all. Albert Rochester was a soldier who got into trouble for writing a letter to a newspaper complaining that every British officer had his own private servant. John S. Clarke was an antiwar radical, working underground—who in his youth had made his living as a circus lion-tamer. Emily Hobhouse believed the nations of Europe should be negotiating, not fighting. She evaded British government travel restrictions, went to Berlin in 1916 and talked peace terms with the foreign minister—the sole private citizen in Europe who actually traveled to the other side in search of peace. You couldn’t invent people like this.

Q: What were your sources of information?

A: When I write history, I like to hear people’s own voices, so as much as possible I relied on personal letters, diaries, memoirs and the like. But there was one additional, unexpected, rich trove of material. In 1914–1918, both civilian and military intelligence agents watched the Britain’s antiwar activists intently. They infiltrated spies into peace organizations, sometimes sent in agents provocateurs to try to get pacifists to do things they could be arrested for, and at even the smallest public antiwar meeting, one of Scotland Yard’s dozen shorthand writers would be there taking notes. These agents’ reports, even those of the agents provocateurs bragging about what they accomplished, are in Britain’s National Archives, some of them opened to public view for the first time only in the last few years.

(Photo by Spark Media)

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. WWI remains the quintessential war-unequaled in concentrated slaughter, patriotic fervor during the fighting, and bitter disillusion afterward, writes Hochschild. Many opposed it and historians mention this in passing, but Hochschild, winner of an L.A. Times Book Award for Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire's Slaves, has written an original, engrossing account that gives the war's opponents (largely English) prominent place. These mostly admirable activists include some veteran social reformers like the formidable Pankhursts, who led violent prosuffrage demonstrations from 1898 until 1914, and two members of which enthusiastically supported the war while one, Sylvia, opposed it, causing a permanent, bitter split. Sylvia worked with, and was probably the lover of, Keir Hardie, a Scotsman who rose from poverty to found the British Labor party. Except for Bertrand Russell, famous opponents are scarce because most supported the war. Hochschild vividly evokes the jingoism of even such leading men of letters as Kipling, Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, and John Galsworthy. By contrast, Hochschild paints equally vivid, painful portraits of now obscure civilians and soldiers who waged a bitter, often heroic, and, Hochschild admits, unsuccessful antiwar struggle. (May)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

More About the Author

Adam Hochschild's first book, "Half the Way Home: A Memoir of Father and Son," was published in 1986. Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times called it "an extraordinarily moving portrait of the complexities and confusions of familial love . . . firmly grounded in the specifics of a particular time and place, conjuring them up with Proustian detail and affection." It was followed by "The Mirror at Midnight: A South African Journey," and "The Unquiet Ghost: Russians Remember Stalin." His 1997 collection, "Finding the Trapdoor: Essays, Portraits, Travels," won the PEN/Spielvogel-Diamonstein Award for the Art of the Essay. "King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa" was a finalist for the 1998 National Book Critics Circle Award. It also won a J. Anthony Lukas award in the United States, and the Duff Cooper Prize in England. Five of his books have been named Notable Books of the Year by The New York Times Book Review. His "Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire's Slaves" was a finalist for the 2005 National Book Award in Nonfiction and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for History.

"To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918," Hochschild's latest book, was a New York Times bestseller. It was a finalist for the 2011 National Book Critics Circle Award for General Nonfiction and won the 2012 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Nonfiction.

The American Historical Association gave Hochschild its 2008 Theodore Roosevelt-Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service, a prize given each year to someone outside the academy who has made a significant contribution to the study of history.

"Throughout his writings over the last decades," the Association's citation said, "Adam Hochschild has focused on topics of important moral and political urgency, with a special emphasis on social and political injustices and those who confronted and struggled against them, as in the case of Britain's 18th-century abolitionists in 'Bury the Chains'; 'The Mirror at Midnight', a study of the struggle between the Boers and Zulus for control over South Africa in the 19th-century Battle of Blood River and its contentious commemoration by rival groups 150 years later; the complex confrontation of Russians with the ghost of Stalinist past in 'The Unquiet Ghost: Russians Remember Stalin'; and the cruelties enacted during the course of Western colonial expansion and domination, notably in his widely acclaimed 'King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa', among his many other publications. All his books combine dramatic narratives and meticulous research. . . .

" 'King Leopold's Ghost' had an extraordinary impact, attracting readers the world over, altering the teaching and writing of history and affecting politics and culture at national and international levels. Published in English and translated into 11 additional languages, the book has been incorporated into secondary school curricula and appears as a key text in the historiography of colonial Africa for college and graduate students. But it is within Belgium that Hochschild's work has had the most dramatic impact, demonstrating the active and transformative power of history. The publication of 'King Leopold's Ghost' forced Belgians to come to terms for the first time with their long buried colonial past and generated intense public debate that so troubled Belgian officials that they reportedly instructed diplomats on how to deflect embarrassing questions that the book raised about the past. The book offered welcome support for others in Belgium who sought acknowledgment and accountability for Belgian actions in the Congo. . . . Few works of history have the power to effect such significant change in people's understanding of their past."

Hochschild teaches narrative writing at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley. He and his wife, sociologist and author Arlie Russell Hochschild, have two sons and two granddaughters.

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Customer Reviews

I will be reading more of this author's books.
BSue
To End All Wars is a story of loyalty and rebellion in Great Britain during the Great War 1914-18.
C. M Mills
Hochschild has done an excellent job of making this book very readable and even gripping at times.
Erez Davidi

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

244 of 260 people found the following review helpful By Leonard Fleisig TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
And its sleep within the dark tomb has begun,
Come, look down upon us, world, file past
And be ashamed of what our age has done.

Inscribe our stone, that everyone may see
What this dead era valued most and best:
Science, progress, work, technology
And death - but death we prized above the rest."

These verses, written by early 20th-century Czech playwright and author Karel Capek, sounded a fitting leitmotif as I read Adam Hochschild's "To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918." The 20th century was one ravaged by two world wars, genocide, and countless `smaller' wars. But for sheer brutality, for the slaughter that turned hundreds of miles of trenches into a charnel house of unprecedented proportions it is hard to imagine a place or time when death was prized more than it was during the war to end all wars.

Histories of World War I abound, from Barbara Tuchman (The Guns of August) to Winston Churchill (The World Crisis, 1911-1918) to John Keegan (The First World War). There are no shortage of books about the bravery of the soldiers who rose from their trenches and marched into certain death.
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76 of 85 people found the following review helpful By Andrew S. Rogers VINE VOICE on April 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"If we were allowed to magically roll back history to the start of the twentieth century and undo one -- and only one -- event," author Adam Hochschild asks toward the end of this powerful and sobering book, "is there any doubt that it would be the war that broke out in 1914?" Books that tell of the horrors of the trenches, and the blindness and stupidity of the generals who so relentlessly stoked the inferno with the bodies of young men are far from rare. But despite this book's covering well-furrowed ground, two things make "To End All Wars" especially worth reading.

One is the author's skill as a historian, storyteller, and portrait-painter. The other is the spotlight he shines on an element of British society not often included in the standard war histories: those who opposed the war, those who refused to fight in it, and those who, however ineffectually, tried to prevent or end it. As Thomas Fleming did for American participation in the war in his outstanding The Illusion Of Victory: America In World War I (which I highly recommend as a companion read to this one), Hochschild here not only rescues British antiwar activists from historical obscurity, but shows the length to which the government tried to silence and suppress them. Particularly interesting and powerful is his technique of contrasting specific individuals with a common tie: For instance, Britain's military commander Field Marshal Sir John French and leading antiwar agitator Charlotte Despard were brother and sister. Sylvia Pankhurst, who also spoke out against the war, was opposed and shunned for the rest of her life by her exceptionally belligerent and nationalistic mother and sister, Emmeline and Christabel.
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85 of 96 people found the following review helpful By CGScammell TOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is great reading and is one of those books you have to read in bits to let it all sink in. The narrative and the characters provide for a new angle on the war England fought in WWI, and it started in the Boer War of South Africa at the turn of the century, the opening era of this story. While the US, with its new imperialistic goals, was basking in victories against the Spanish, England was holding on to its South African lands because of the diamond mines there, not realizing that German troops were coming in from the north to spy on these troops. The Germans used British intelligence against the English later in WWI.

The Boer War and its heroes (and its pacifists) was another war women suffragettes were opposing, as English soldiers brutalized native tribes in Africa. Characters come to life here in a minor but powerful opposition against the English empire, and that is its own women who are tired of war and appression and abuse. Because these women are vocal about their demands, their right to vote is delayed until well after WWI.

And this shows how England and the US developed in unison when it came to female suffrage.

The characters depicted in this narrative are not the charactes we know so well with WWI, and this makes for eye-opening and interesting reading. We read about influential women, Irish freedom fighters, patriotic writers, wealthy business men, patriotic monarchs. This isn't the standard Good vs Bad guys fighting a war that tends to make it in history textbooks, but the people on the sidelines who struggle just as much. Winning WWI for England was imperative; all other things were secondary and this narrative shows how that all came about.
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