The media sure loves an anniversary story – and the approaching centennial of the outbreak of World War One is no exception. For weeks now, newspapers have been capitalizing on the public’s mounting interest in the century-old conflict by serving up a seemingly endless stream of articles, retrospectives and backgrounders on the War to End All Wars.
In fact, so much ink has been spilled on the subject of late, particularly in the British press, it’s been something of a challenge for history buffs (like us) to keep up with it all. Fortunately, we here at MHN have you covered. We’ve picked out a few of the more interesting articles for your consideration. See below. And if you think we missed a notable story or two, feel free to provide us a link in the comments section below. We’d welcome it.
First World War Fallacies
The BBC’s online news magazine has set out to shatter some of the enduring misconceptions of the Great War in this piece that ran last weekend entitled “Lions and Donkeys: 10 Big Myths About World War One Debunked”. The redoubtable Dan Snow compiled the list, which overturns much conventional wisdom about the epic four-year conflict. Was the war Britain’s bloodiest? Not exactly, writes Snow. Was it the deadliest dust-up in history to that point? Not by a long shot. Were the terms of the Versailles Treaty particularly onerous to Germany? Nope. To read more about these and seven other commonly held First World War fallacies click here.
Tragedy of Errors
And as long as we’re talking about setting the record straight, you’ll want to check out this piece in Britain’s Daily Mail. Entitled: “First World War Killed One Million More Soldiers Than Records Show”, the article reports on a recent study out of the University of Paris that suggests that the war’s official butcher’s bill is far from accurate and is actually more of a low-ball estimate than an serious appraisal. Professor Antoine Prost maintains that because of inaccurate military records keeping along with a desire on the part of governments on all sides to maintain public confidence, death tolls and casualty lists from battles were routinely rounded down. To read more click here.
A Toast to the Kaiser
Even a trade magazine for the distillery industry is commemorating the war! London’s own The Drinks Business recently published this piece about the omnipresence of beer in the German Army of the World War One as part of its ongoing series dubbed Wine and Warfare. Entitled: “Beer and Madness”, the story outlines how the men of the Central Powers turned to the suds (and to a lesser extent wine) both as a tonic for the misery of trench life and even as a dietary staple. Beer soup, anyone? Click here to read.
See You in the Funny Papers
Buzz has been building all fall about a new graphic war novel (of sorts) that focuses on the 1916 Battle of the Somme. The Great War by Joe Sacco isn’t a book in the traditional sense, but rather a 24-foot long fold out mural depicting the bloody opening day of the mammoth Western Front battle. Imaging the Bayeux Tapestry meets Where’s Waldo. Now it’s entirely possible that the publishers, W. W. Norton & Company, would object to such a gross characterization of this intriguing concept in publishing, but since they didn’t reply to MHN’s repeated emails for a publicity image for the story, we think they lost their griping privileges. To read the New York Times’ take on this original idea, click here.