PLEDGE NOW
The Great War Reexamined

Our own Jack Beatty joins us on the Great War, the war to end all wars, the First World War, and how it all could have been different.

Often described as troops "going over the top" in trench warfare near St. Pol. France, in October 1916, some researchers now believe this World War I photo shows Canadian Army troops during a training exercise well behind the front lines. (AP)

Often described as troops "going over the top" in trench warfare near St. Pol. France, in October 1916, some researchers now believe this World War I photo shows Canadian Army troops during a training exercise well behind the front lines. (AP)

They called World War I the “Great War.”  The war to end all wars.  It was bloody and brutal and massively murderous.  Trenches.  Mustard gas.  Bodies heaped in the millions.  It ended what we remember as an age of grace and ushered in a century of mechanized, total war.

In school, we’re taught that it’s beginning, in the summer of 1914, after the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, had a kind of inevitability to it.  In a new book, my colleague Jack Beatty says no.  That the Great War, all wars, come as a choice.

This hour, On Point:  a century on, the lessons of the summer of 1914.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst and author of The Lost History of 1914: Reconsidering the year the Great War began. You can read an excerpt of the book here.

From Tom’s Reading List

Nashua Telegraph “In taking a new and unique look back at the political landscape of Europe in 1914 and the circumstances that were to be the prime catalysts in igniting the bloody conflict that came to be known as “The Great War” and “The War to End All Wars,” Beatty has fashioned a thoughtful book that’s decidedly different from many of the standard – and often dry and tedious – historical volumes.”

Associated Press “World War I histories typically focus on the tragic decisions of European political leaders like Joseph and mind-numbing carnage as 19th-century military strategies ran into the mechanized death machines of the 20th century.”

Video: Footage From The Battle Of The Somme

Here is some rare film taken at the Battle of the Somme in November 1916. After six months of fighting, the German, French and British armies suffered a combined one million casualties, making it one of the bloodiest military operations in history.

Excerpt: The Lost History of 1914

Playlist

It’s a Long, Long Way to Tipperary by Coldstream Guards Regimental Band

Over There by Nora Bayes

Pack Up Your Troubles by Murray Johnson

Boys in Khaki, Boys in Blue by F. Wheeler

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Feb 9, 2016
Republican presidential candidate, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie buttons his coat as he leaves Gilchrist Metal Company after a campaign event, Monday, Feb. 8, 2016, in Hudson, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

We’re live in New Hampshire for the first in the nation primary day, with all the latest on how the big vote is shaping up.

Feb 9, 2016
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign stop at a Rotary Club luncheon in Manchester, N.H., Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

From New Hampshire, a deep dive, from Trump to Sanders, on how the candidates would approach the U.S. economy.

RECENT
SHOWS
Feb 8, 2016
Legendary film critic  Roger Ebert in an archival image from his early days at the Chicago Sun-Times. (Flickr / WikiCommons)

The critic speaks. The New York Times’ A.O. Scott on how to think about art, pleasure, beauty and truth.

 
Feb 8, 2016
Sign stands outside property for rent Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in south Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

If it feels like rents are sky-high, you’re right. Some now paying more than half their income on rent. Some say crisis. We’ll dig in.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Notes From New Hampshire, #6: Bernie v. Hillary — The Electability Debate
Monday, Feb 8, 2016

Bill and Betty are not real New Hampshire voters. But their arguments about the Democratic race for President most certainly are.

More »
Comment
 
Notes From New Hampshire, #5: Ted Cruz — The Advocate
Monday, Feb 8, 2016

Texas Senator and Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz is an impassioned advocate, Jack Beatty writes — but mostly for himself above all others.

More »
Comment
 
Notes From New Hampshire, #4: Donald Trump — You Heard It First!
Friday, Feb 5, 2016

Jack Beatty recounts an evening rally with Republican Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, and wonders if the billionaire businessman is really looking for an exit.

More »
Comment