Sunday, July 10, 2011

Adam Hochschild, To End All Wars

Great book. Highly recommended.

I was slightly wary when I read that much of it was about generals, but even for those like me with limited patience for battle sagas, the war sections are gripping. Because it’s not about battles, but about people. And the people Hochschild describes are fascinating, inspiring, imperfect.

My favorite thread concerned the various social movements in their encounters with the government and the Right. Given the contemporary partial, prettified view of the fight for women’s suffrage (and other women’s struggles of the era), the confluence of leftwing movements and the doggedness and suffering of some of the activists are stories that need to be told. The growth of media spin, which I've talked about here extensively, is also colorfully documented. One of the most interesting aspects is the connection shown between imperialism and “domestic” national or European politics – the overlapping ideology, personnel, and tactics, and their connection to the rise of fascism. This is an area in which not enough has been done. The book points to the relationship between rebellion, the war, and “security” throughout the empire, but the non-Western people involved in this resistance aren’t featured as much as they could be. But this is a minor criticism.

Here’s Hochschild on Democracy Now!:

And on Book TV.

Speaking of DN!, Hochschild’s book casts an interesting light on recent events in the US military. So tragic I won't say more.

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