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The Book Nook: "Paris, 1919" (Margaret MacMillan)


Last week, I reviewed a book by Margaret MacMillan about the start of The Great War.  Today, it's appropriate that I review her book about the END of the First World War...

The war was over, countless souls had been lost.  In Paris, France, world leaders gathered to negotiate and sign the official treaty that would hold the defeated forces responsible for the war, and reshape the world in the hopes that such a conflict would never happen again.

Ultimately setting the stage, and setting in motion events that would once again set the world on fire...

In "Paris, 1919" MacMillan shows the same skill, talent, and ability she did in "The War That Ended Peace".  She brings to life the people who attended the conference in Paris, and their roles in shaping the Treaty of Versailles.  She covers the actions and reactions of the main superpowers, and those of the smaller parties.  The victors and the losers.  She explains in wonderful imagery the power plays of those involved, and the effects they had on those that lacked the power to stop them.

MacMillan puts on display the grudges, fears, and ambitions of the various parties involved in the negotiations.  This book also explores the burden of guilt that was placed on Germany, and terms placed on it.  She discusses the socio-economic conditions that- in addition to the culture, and the treaty terms would set the stage for Hitler's rise down the road.

This book examines the conditions of the Treaty of Versailles- how it redistributed colonies and redrew borders.  As it does so, it points out the factors that would lead to many of the problems the world would face- such as the ones we faced in Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Serbia, and the Middle East.

"Paris, 1919" is a book that illustrates how events in the past always set up the events of the present... that the personalities of the people making global decisions can echo into the future.  It is a lesson in how world leaders aren't perfect and omniscient- and that while they may be attempting to make the world a better place... sometimes, they inadvertently set the world on fire down the road...

As the world marks the end of World War One, and honour the fallen souls of those who defend us, I give Margaret MacMillan's book, "Paris, 1919," a "Good".


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