Above: The Seine near Notre Dame Cathedral (Schmidley, 1999).
A month ago, I set myself the task of reading a half dozen books on WWI before July 2014 which will mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the war. During February, I am reading Margaret MacMillan’s, The War that Ended the Peace: The Road to 1914. MacMillan is an Oxford University history professor, whose specialty is WWI, and she is also the author of Paris 1919 about the creation of the Versailles Treaty.
MacMillan won many awards for her groundbreaking book on the Versailles Treaty that ended WWI, and I plan to read this book in July. Meanwhile, I am captivated by her latest work which pulls together material covered in at least six of my graduate history classes, including the course I took one summer on Twentieth Century Britain which began with the Boer War.
I understand from an article in our morning Post, that folks in Britain are divided on how to memorialize this terrible war which cost the lives over 1 million British military, including the dead at Gallipoli.
Black Adder Cast
According to the Post article, the cast of Black Adder has become part of the discussion. Black Adder fans may recall that Rowan Atkins character finds himself a Captain in the trenches During WWI along with idiot officers played by Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry of Jeeves and Wooster fame. Some Brits think this series trivialized The Great War. Indeed, the series spoofs all British history.
As calls come in left and right canceling this and moving that while Washington awaits, The Great Storm of 2014, I got online and ordered plants for my pots next spring. We gardeners never give up. Well almost never. I am late getting my order out this year having grown weary of Mother Nature’s vicissitudes. As the cold crept down from the Arctic Circle this winter, I thought about all those others in history who must have wondered what the heck was happening.
Some historians think the wasteland depicted in Nennius’ account of the last days of the King Arthur was the result of the explosion of Mount Karkatoa or some other Indonesian volcano. And what could those early modern humans have thought as ice crept closer and closer during the great ice age?
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire,
I hold with those who favor fire.
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice is also great
And would suffice.
(apologies to Robert Frost for the punctuation. I memorized the poem in high school, and copied it here from memory.)