In spite of the cold night, eleven people turned out for the book discussion last night. Their presence, as always, was much appreciated.
Our book last night was Catastrophe 1914: Europe goes to war by Max Hastings. The Great War, or World War I, was the most devastating and costly conflict endured up to that time. Millions died from wounds and disease. Millions more were maimed. Three empires collapsed. The map was redrawn with many new nations and old Europe disappeared, never to return. The book deals with the first year of the war. The nations involved were entangled by alliances and secret accords and a single incident, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary, was enough to set the continent ablaze. But the nations and people involved did not expect the horrors that were set loose. They expected a short, bloodless conflict that would end in a few months, correct some borders, add some territory, gain some glory and let Europe return to normalcy. Instead, they received four years of trench warfare, stalemate, devastation, disease and endless suffering. Our conversation was wide ranging and interesting, covering the division between politics and the military establishment, diplomacy versus combat, the nature and evolution of trench warfare, the NATO alliance, ISIS, Putin and Russia, the chances of another world war occurring and much more. It was an enjoyable evening.
Our next meeting will be Thursday, December 18, 2014. The book to be discussed, The Telling Room: a tale of love, betrayal, revenge and the world’s greatest piece of cheese by Michael Paterniti, is available at the Circulation Desk. All are welcome.