Paris 1919 Six months that changed the world

Margaret MacMillan, 1943-

Book - 2002

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2nd Floor 940.314/Macmillan Due Sep 2, 2022
New York : Random House c2002.
1st U.S. ed
Item Description
Originally published: Peacemakers. London : J. Murray, 2001.
Physical Description
570 p., [16] p. of plates : ill., maps
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Main Author
Margaret MacMillan, 1943- (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Virtually all historians agree that the Versailles Peace Conference was a monumental failure that set the stage for the outbreak of World War II. However, there is no consensus regarding the causes of that failure. Some blame Woodrow Wilson and his high-minded but absurdly impractical ideals; others blame the cynicism and narrow nationalism of Lloyd George and Clemenceau. MacMillan is a professor of history at the University of Toronto and the great-granddaughter of Lloyd George. Her narrative and analysis of the critical first six months of the negotiations will not end the controversy. However, this engrossing and inevitably depressing account is a vital contribution to efforts at understanding the deeply flawed agreements that emerged. At times, MacMillan's recounting of the minutiae of negotiations can be overwhelming, but the great accomplishments of this work are her perceptive and eloquent depictions of the key players in the conference. Of course, Wilson, as the dominant force, is at the center of her account, and she convincingly tarnishes his image as a great statesman. He was often insufferably rigid and arrogant, and his espousal of frustratingly vague concepts like "self-determination" often confused even his own advisors. For those who seek a deeper understanding of one of history's most tragic failures, this book is a treasure. ((Reviewed September 1, 2002)) Copyright 2002 Booklist Reviews

Review by Choice Reviews

MacMillan (Univ. of Toronto) uses the deliberations surrounding the Treaty of Versailles (together with its adjuncts: Trianon, St. Germain, Neuilly, Sevres, and Lausanne) in several ways. First, she introduces readers to a stellar cast of characters: Lloyd George, the "Welsh wizard"; Clemenceau, the "French tiger"; Wilson, the "American professor"; as well as King Faisal, Lawrence of Arabia, Ataturk, Ho Chi Minh, and even Gandhi. Second, she clearly articulates the intricacies of the welt politik that led up to WW I. Third, she discusses many of the issues that were on the table in 1919 and are still present: Balkan ethnic politics, Europe's relationship with Turkey, Britain's involvement with Europe, tensions in the Middle East. But, most important, 1919 marks the advent of the US as a moralizing force that at once castigated Old World imperialisms while initiating its own self-appointed role as global arbiter of good and evil. Somewhat poignantly, MacMillan closes this study of the aftermath of the "war to end all wars" with two questions: "How can the irrational passions of nationalism or religion be contained before they do more damage? How can we outlaw war?" Well footnoted, referenced, and illustrated with clear maps and intriguing photographs. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. General readers and upper-division undergraduates and above. Copyright 2003 American Library Association

Review by Library Journal Reviews

In an ambitious narrative, MacMillan (history, University of Toronto) seeks to recover the original intent, constraints, and goals of the diplomats who sat down to hammer out a peace treaty in the aftermath of the Great War. In particular, she focuses on the "Big Three" Wilson (United States), Lloyd George (Great Britain), and Clemenceau (France) who dominated the critical first six months of the Paris Peace Conference. Viewing events through such a narrow lens can reduce diplomacy to the parochial concerns of individuals. But instead of falling into this trap, MacMillan uses the Big Three as a starting point for analyzing the agendas of the multitude of individuals who came to Versailles to achieve their largely nationalist aspirations. Following her analysis of the forces at work in Europe, MacMillan takes the reader on a tour de force of the postwar battlefields of Asia and the Middle East. Of particular interest is her sympathy for those who tried to make the postwar world more peaceful. Although their lofty ambitions fell prey to the passions of nationalism, this should not detract from their efforts. This book will help rehabilitate the peacemakers of 1919 and is recommended for all libraries. Frederic Krome, Jacob Rader Marcus Ctr. of the American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

A joke circulating in Paris early in 1919 held that the peacemaking Council of Four, representing Britain, France, the U.S. and Italy, was busy preparing a "just and lasting war." Six months of parleying concluded on June 28 with Germany's coerced agreement to a treaty no Allied statesman had fully read, according to MacMillan, a history professor at the University of Toronto, in this vivid account. Although President Wilson had insisted on a League of Nations, even his own Senate would vote the league down and refuse the treaty. As a rush to make expedient settlements replaced initial negotiating inertia, appeals by many nationalities for Wilsonian self-determination would be overwhelmed by rhetoric justifying national avarice. The Italians, who hadn't won a battle, and the French, who'd been saved from catastrophe, were the greediest, says MacMillan; the Japanese plucked Pacific islands that had been German and a colony in China known for German beer. The austere and unlikable Wilson got nothing; returning home, he suffered a debilitating stroke. The council's other members horse-traded for spoils, as did Greece, Poland and the new Yugoslavia. There was, Wilson declared, "disgust with the old order of things," but in most decisions the old order in fact prevailed, and corrosive problems, like Bolshevism, were shelved. Hitler would blame Versailles for more ills than it created, but the signatories often could not enforce their writ. MacMillan's lucid prose brings her participants to colorful and quotable life, and the grand sweep of her narrative encompasses all the continents the peacemakers vainly carved up. 16 pages of photos, maps. (On sale Oct. 29) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Describes the six months following the end of the First World War when leaders of the great powers, as well as men and women from all over the world, all with their own agendas, converged on Paris to shape the peace, including Woodrow Wilson, Lloyd George, Clemenceau, T. E. Lawrence, Churchill, W. E. B. Dubois, and others. 30,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Describes the six months following the end of the First World War when leaders of the great powers, as well as men and women from all over the world, all with their own agendas, converged on Paris to shape the peace.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Winner of the Samuel Johnson PrizeWinner of the PEN Hessell Tiltman PrizeWinner of the Duff Cooper PrizeBetween January and July 1919, after “the war to end all wars,” men and women from around the world converged on Paris to shape the peace. Center stage, for the first time in history, was an American president, Woodrow Wilson, who with his Fourteen Points seemed to promise to so many people the fulfillment of their dreams. Stern, intransigent, impatient when it came to security concerns and wildly idealistic in his dream of a League of Nations that would resolve all future conflict peacefully, Wilson is only one of the larger-than-life characters who fill the pages of this extraordinary book. David Lloyd George, the gregarious and wily British prime minister, brought Winston Churchill and John Maynard Keynes. Lawrence of Arabia joined the Arab delegation. Ho Chi Minh, a kitchen assistant at the Ritz, submitted a petition for an independent Vietnam.For six months, Paris was effectively the center of the world as the peacemakers carved up bankrupt empires and created new countries. This book brings to life the personalities, ideals, and prejudices of the men who shaped the settlement. They pushed Russia to the sidelines, alienated China, and dismissed the Arabs. They struggled with the problems of Kosovo, of the Kurds, and of a homeland for the Jews.The peacemakers, so it has been said, failed dismally; above all they failed to prevent another war. Margaret MacMillan argues that they have unfairly been made the scapegoats for the mistakes of those who came later. She refutes received ideas about the path from Versailles to World War II and debunks the widely accepted notion that reparations imposed on the Germans were in large part responsible for the Second World War.A landmark work of narrative history, Paris 1919 is the first full-scale treatment of the Peace Conference in more than twenty-five years. It offers a scintillating view of those dramatic and fateful days when much of the modern world was sketched out, when countries were created—Iraq, Yugoslavia, Israel—whose troubles haunt us still.