21 апреля 2009 | Автор: Admin | Рубрика: Художественные книги » Мемуары. Биографии | Комментариев: 0
Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World By Margaret MacMillan
Random House | ISBN: 0375508260 | Pub Date - 2002 | HTML & PDF | 608 Pages | 10,3 Mb
Winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize
Winner of the PEN Hessell Tiltman Prize
Winner of the Duff Cooper Prize
Between January and July 1919, after “the war to end all wars,” men and women from around the world converged on Paris to shape the peace. Center stage, for the first time in history, was an American president, Woodrow Wilson, who with his Fourteen Points seemed to promise to so many people the fulfillment of their dreams. Stern, intransigent, impatient when it came to security concerns and wildly idealistic in his dream of a League of Nations that would resolve all future conflict peacefully, Wilson is only one of the larger-than-life characters who fill the pages of this extraordinary book. David Lloyd George, the gregarious and wily British prime minister, brought Winston Churchill and John Maynard Keynes. Lawrence of Arabia joined the Arab delegation. Ho Chi Minh, a kitchen assistant at the Ritz, submitted a petition for an independent Vietnam.
For six months, Paris was effectively the center of the world as the peacemakers carved up bankrupt empires and created new countries. This book brings to life the personalities, ideals, and prejudices of the men who shaped the settlement. They pushed Russia to the sidelines, alienated China, and dismissed the Arabs. They struggled with the problems of Kosovo, of the Kurds, and of a homeland for the Jews.
The peacemakers, so it has been said, failed dismally; above all they failed to prevent another war. Margaret MacMillan argues that they have unfairly been made the scapegoats for the mistakes of those who came later. She refutes received ideas about the path from Versailles to World War II and debunks the widely accepted notion that reparations imposed on the Germans were in large part responsible for the Second World War.
A landmark work of narrative history, Paris 1919 is the first full-scale treatment of the Peace Conference in more than twenty-five years. It offers a scintillating view of those dramatic and fateful days when much of the modern world was sketched out, when countries were created—Iraq, Yugoslavia, Israel—whose troubles haunt us still.
Summary: The history of the conclusion of WW I
This work is all about the treaty that brought World War One to a close. It's also takes a detailed look at the various, (and often, "nefarious"), world leaders who were the principals in fleshing out that final agreement which, by the way, was never ratified by the U.S, Congress.
I especially liked the book because it's sort of an unvarnished mini-biography of Woodrow Wilson. I came away seeing Wilson as both incompetent and a bit of a loser. The book also verified what I already knew about governments in general: they're NOT there to help you and their leaders harbor personal power agendas that are rarely, if ever, in the public interest.
A lot of countries got screwed (I couldn't think of a more appropriate term!) as a result of the Versailles Treaty and, perhaps, I differ a bit in my personal conclusions about this from the author and the conclusions she has drawn. Still, the book itself arms one with all the facts, and there's not much editorializing, and for that I praise Macmillan.
I doubt that there is a better documentation of this period and place anywhere. Macmillan was very thorough in her research and it's a fine book. I most enjoyed the discussion of "Lawrence of Arabia" and his dillemma.
If I have a complaint about the book it's simply that, even accounting for the fact that it's non-fiction, I didn't find that it was a very fluid read. This was a book that I had to make myself finish and, after the fact, I'm pleased that I did.
Summary: Best history book I've ever read
I've read some great history books before, including 1776 and America's Longest War. But this is the best. It shows in astonishing detail that the greatest errors made in 1919 by President Wilson were not in allowing the British and French to impose overly punitive reparations on Germany (though that is partly true, this familiar thesis is turns out to be overblown -- the greater error with respect to Germany was not following the young Keynes's advice and starting the EEC in 1919). Even worse, Wilson gave into American and European racists who could not tolerate Japan's proposed "racial equality clause" and thus had to accept Japan's demand for a slice of Chinese territory -- thus weakening the League's moral credibility, embolding Japanise colonialism, and driving betrayed Chinese intellectuals into the hands of Lenin. This is not your 11th grade history textbook: this is what really happened, with incredible detail about the tangle of problems in region after region -- Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the new Yugoslavia, Italy's attempted land grabs, Greece's ambitions and their terrible consequences, the disasterous policies in the middle east. The cast of major characters are painted in vivid detail; I almost feel I know these men after reading this amazing book. Through it all, the tragedy of Wilson's humanitarian dream comes through keenly -- compromised away in efforts to save the League of Nations that only ended up making it worthless. Here is a thought for the future: Henry Cabot Lodge and his Republican opponents of the League would have accepted a league that only included democracies. But Wilson would not compromise were it would have helped, only where is harmed, it seems. Perhaps we should go back to Lodge's idea now and consider a new Federation of Democratic Nations to replace the defunct U.N. -- and try to revive Wilson's lost dream.
Summary: IT SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA AT THE TIME
In assessing the 20th Century I tell people the pivotal event was the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand that touched off the first world war. Granted, if that had not happened something else probably would have caused the war sometime within that timeframe but such was not the case.
The assassination and the resulting catastrophic war eventually led to a cessation of hostilities in November 1918 when the Germans and the Axis Powers were more exhausted than the exhausted Allies. As the victors, the Allies met in Paris to establish the terms for surrender. The Allies also decided to set the terms for not just peace but a lasting peace in Europe specifically and the world generally.
However, the main architects of what was to be the Treaty of Versailles (Clemenceau of France, Lloyd George of England, and Woodrow Wilson of the US) were also humans prone to many human faults. For one thing, they were political leaders susceptible to political pressures. While Wilson was more sympathetic to the losing side of the war the British and French -- especially the French who hosted the western front for four miserable years -- were not sympathetic. The Russians were invited even though their new Bolshevic Government had withdrawn in early 1918 but the invitation was more of an obligation than an actual desire to have them in Paris to make things more difficult. To the relief of the Allies, the Russians chose not to participate.
When I first got the book I thumbed through it and my immediate thought was that it was going to be boring. Once I got into the book it was anything but boring. The interactions between the leaders and their staffs and their different agenda was fascinating and gave a clearer understanding as to why their efforts to redraw the boundaries of Europe and the world -- nobel as they were -- were probably doomed to failure. Perhaps the world would have been better off without the Paris negotiations, the Treaty of Versailles and the resulting League of Nations. But in 1919 the victorious leaders could not look ahead to see that their efforts to redraw Europe and the world was a mistake.
It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Summary: Exceptional Book
The author does an exceptional job of writing an easily read and understood book about a very complex part of history. Getting past the easily taken road of blaming the Paris Peace Conference for many of the ills the world has experience since, the author provides what I believe to be a very balanced look at the events in Paris in 1919. Although readily admitting that many mistakes were made by the peacemakers, some that could have been avoided, the author does an excellent job of considering the many factors that made many of the decisions seem more resonable when they are considered. Some of these factors include: rising and competing nationalist feelings, strategic security and economic considerations, the circumstances of the "peacemakers" (primarily the U.S., England, France, and Italy) at the end of WWI - especially their economic and military situations, perceived future threats to the international community, and the desires of the people whose futures were being decided.
Bottom line - a wonderful book and highly recommend to anyone looking for a single book describing this time in history.
Summary: How the world was reordered
In the aftermath of the Great War decisions were made in Paris that decided the history of the world for the next century. MacMillan does a creditable job of making sense the negotiations that took place in 1919 to divide up the planet after the total collapse of the Central Powers and the Russian Empire. She addresses dozens of issues involved in the meetings and committees of the Versailles conference and the politics involved amongst the victorious allies. Millions were taken from their Ottoman and German colonial masters and given over to the French and British. The United States was offered a Mandate over the Kurds but refused it as Wilson did not want to get involved in middle east colonialism. The existence of new states was recognized and the colonial authority of France, Britain and, ominously, Japan was reinforced.
A good book and the best I've seen on the subject.