Lynx, Destroyer of Worlds (with Science!) (lynxreign) wrote,
Lynx, Destroyer of Worlds (with Science!)


I've just started a book called The War and the Bagdad Railway by Morris Jastrow, Jr. It is, of course, about the First World War. One of the reasons I was so delighted to find this book in the first place was when it was written. The publication date is 1917, the edition I have is the third and was issued in April 1918.

What inspired me to post about this book even though I've barely finished the prefaces is the following excerpt:

The railway became the spectre of the twentieth century. It was a spectre that always appeared armed "from top to toe" and when occasionally he "wore his beaver up," the face was that of a grim, determined warrior.

Notice anything striking in there? I love antiquated slang and I'd use that one if I had any idea what it meant!
EDIT: Aha! It is apparently a Shakespearian reference, or at least a phrase Shakespeare used that may or may not have been common in the early 20th century. A "Beaver" is a hinged faceguard on a helm.

I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the book even more than I'd originally anticipated. I love reading books about events that are written while the event is still going on, especially ones from long ago where I have enough distance and a fuller understanding than the author. It helps me understand how the event was viewed at the time. This one seems even better than most.

It is a book written by an American professor who attended German universities. In the prefaces, he regretfully places full blame for the war on Germany. He then goes on to state that Russia was just as bad, England was no better and France and Italy certainly did their share in the runup to creating the problem and so on. He then restates that it was All Germany's Fault! He also states

I am writing as a student of history and not as a partisan, except in so far as my position is, as I believe it to be, in accord with the American point of view as voiced by its most thoughtful and most sober representatives.

It sounds as though he has a pretty good understanding that all participating nations had a hand in the outbreak of the war and, though Germany damaged its standing, reputation and position with the invasion of Belgium, it isn't the only one to blame. He seems to be saying as much while stating the conventional opinion as a sheild against accusations of treason. I look forward to seeing if this is indeed the case throughout the book.
Tags: books, history

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