We think of Europe in 1914 as a continent all too eager for war — volunteers jamming recruiting offices, festooned soldiers joyfully marching to battle and delirious crowds waving them off. To a significant extent, that vision is true, and for a time the Great War brought domestic unity and shared purpose to European nations deeply divided by class, gender and politics. In the euphoria of what everyone from emperors to foot soldiers believed would be a short, glorious and cleansing war that, in the Social Darwinism of the age, could only make Europeans more fit, came an overriding sense of purpose. In “To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918,” Adam Hochschild challenges this image of the European home front. In this beautifully written and compellingly narrated story of Britain at war, Hochschild forces us to think about the Great War from the dual perspectives of those who prosecuted it and those who decried it. His primary focus is on well-known “divided families,” such as that of John French, hero of the Boer War, first commander in chief of the British Expeditionary Forces and last viceroy of Ireland, and his sister Charlotte Despard, militant suffragette, Labour Party activist, antiwar activist and, later, Sinn Fein member.
more from Marla Stone at the LA Times here.