Order#: 614982 Topic: Consumed by War: European Conflict in the 20th Century (2010) Introduction What is the overarching idea the author is trying to impart to the reader—Let me answer this question, as it provides answer to all other subsidiary questions raised in the instructions part, including author’s primary arguments and how they reach their conclusions…
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The canvas of 296 pages is too small for the detailed description of several major wars. Richard C. Hall has made concrete efforts to give systematic, well-researched details in a compact manner and has covered well, the subjects touched upon. The author writes, “The rise of German economic and political power determined Europe’s parameters at the beginning of the twentieth century.” (1) Europe suffered recurring and unending political discord in this century and some historians have mentioned this as the Long War. Hall begins with the introductory sketch of the period leading up to 1900, in which he mentions about the beginning of the two opposite European alliance systems initiated by Bismarck to isolate France but the book in fact begins with Balkan wars of 1912-1913.To identify the precise cause for the escalation of the wars in the European Continent that resulted in to world conflagrations, is as good as making efforts to look out for a needle lost in the ocean. Hall is right in giving importance to the arms race in Europe as the underlying cause of the First World War. Throughout the book his conclusions are well-researched and are on the mark. He describes how Europe remained like the boiling pot of violence and yet war on a large scale did not break out. Hall writes, “Despite the seething resentments between France and Germany, the naval rivalry between Britain and Germany, and the various colonial disputes as the Great Powers attempted to impose European control over the globe, no general war broke out.”(5) Arms race, as singled out by Hall, was an important cause and issue then; it is even more important issue now, the dangers of which are mind-boggling. The increase in the variety of new types of weapons has always been an issue for the politicians and their ultimate users in the actual war fronts, the military generals. Hall writes, “New weapons such as gas, flamethrowers, airplanes, and tanks would increase the horrors and casualties of combat. As yet, there was no clear idea how to best utilize these weapons.”(19)The destruction ‘achieved’ by humankind in several centuries, can be accomplished in minutes now. Arms race is not a new phenomenon. It was always there. Hall observes, “At the beginning of the twentieth century, all the Great Powers had indulged in a frenzy of warship construction.”(53) Why did the author write the book? An author has every right to write the book of his choice on the subject of his choice. Hall has provided a condensed history of war in Europe and identified the root cause of genesis of wars. Greed and aggrandizement for power are the other causes mentioned by him. Each chapter of the book is the subject matter for volumes of encyclopedias, if full justice is given to the details. But that is not the objective of the author. He has given systematic, brief accounts of Balkan wars, 1878-1914, Western front, Eastern fronts, American intervention, 1917-1918, Peace settlement, Preserving the peace, undermining the peace, Germany resurgent, Renewed war, German-Russian war, American intervention, 1940-1945,Collaboration, neutrality, resistance, and genocide, Origins of the Cold War, Europe divided, and Balkan wars, 1991-2001. As such, this book becomes an invaluable guide to research scholars, historians, sociologists, and the
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