Review: A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, 1914 to 1918

A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, 1914 to 1918A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, 1914 to 1918 by G.J. Meyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a fascinating book on WWI that covers more of the political aspects of the events leading up to and during the war. It reads fairly neutrally and doesn’t feel like it “takes sides.” There is general discussion of the military side of the war with various battles and their significance covered, but not likely in the same degree of detail as the political machinations going on are covered.

I will admit that my education on the Great War was woeful. Perhaps this is because I moved cities in 8th grade and somehow missed it. Or maybe it’s just that I’m a public school kid and that’s what we got. Anyway, I thought this was very well done and I’d love suggestions that cover WWII in the same way.

For those of you who feel like taking the time (the unabridged audiobook was 32 hours) to learn about a war from a century ago, you might be surprised. I was certainly surprised how much similarity there is now to that era. Especially where it comes to some of the reporting from newspapers and propaganda that went on prior to and throughout the war.

A Warning:
The propaganda of the time drove the citizens into a frenzy. For the Germans, that made them believe they were justified in their actions. It made them willing to make tremendous sacrifices towards a war effort that maybe shouldn’t have been supported so long if their citizens and legislators were more level-headed. For the Entente (Allies), the same thing was true, but it also drove them to a point that they were unreasonable in their expectations for war reparations from Germany/Austria/Hungary. It appears obvious in hind-sight, but this likely lead to the conditions that brought Hitler to power and ultimately directly lead to WWII. Our current political climate is equally divisive. People on both sides of the political street actually believe that the other side is literally “evil.” That if you expose yourself to thoughts from the other side that you are somehow doing yourself harm. In reality, we are all in our own propaganda “bubbles” of information which is self-selected and then algorithmically reinforced through social media which feeds you more ideas that are similar to your own. The best thing we can do is to reverse this trend and burst our own info bubbles. Look openly at the other side. Maybe this way we can prevent WWIII, or a second civil war.

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