After finishing the book, the reader will realize that its subtitle, “Explaining World War I,” is far more clever than it appears at first glance. The Pity of War offers not quite a history of the First World War, but rather a history of Great Britain and the First World War; for Ferguson, the two are inseparable.
It is well-known that decades later he made witty statements about God: that He does not play dice; that God is crafty but not malicious. Einstein famously wrote: “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”
On a research trip last summer, I found a previously unidentified thirteenth-century manuscript in a library in Poznan, Poland, and recognized that it contains the writings of a late twelfth-century monk named Engelhard of Langheim. One of the Latin texts in this manuscript is the saintly biography of a religious woman named Mechtilde of Diessen.
On September 13, 2011, the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues released its report on the syphilis experiments conducted by the US government in Guatemala in the 1940s. Over 1300 prisoners, prostitutes, psychiatric patients, and soldiers in Guatemala were infected with sexually transmissible diseases (through supervised sexual relations among other methods), in an attempt to better understand treatments for diseases such as syphilis.
On the evening of June 24, 1941, Prime Minister of Great Britain Winston Churchill came on the radio. He declared: “Any person belonging to a country fighting against fascism will receive British aid.” He went on to say that he will give Russia and its people all the help that the British government can offer.
Arthur Koestler lived a remarkable life – as dramatic a death-defying tour of twentieth century Europe as you can find. He was born in Budapest (in 1905) and went to school in Vienna.
On a mid-July day in 1939, Albert Einstein, still in his slippers, opened the door of his summer cottage in Peconic on the fishtail end of Long Island. There stood his former student and onetime partner in an electromagnetic refrigerator pump, the Hungarian physicist Leo Szilard, and next to him a fellow Hungarian (and fellow physicist), Eugene Wigner. The two had not come to Long Island for a day at the beach with the most famous scientist in the world but on an urgent mission.
Saul Friedländer’s Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939-1945, argues that the Holocaust must be understood as a European event.
Just before dawn on July 16, 1942 the French Police began Opération Vent Printanier, or “Operation Spring Breeze.” That morning over 13,000 Jews were forcibly removed from their homes and trudged through the streets of Paris to the Vélodrome d’Hiver, the Winter Bicycle Racetrack, on the rue Nélaton in the city’s fifteenth arrondisement.
After a long career among both politicians and literary lights, Roy Jenkins perhaps found his ideal subject in his last great biography, Churchill. Fans of the reputation-blackening revisionism common to the genre will find little to love in this laudatory account.