The locomotive of war Money, empire, power, and guilt

P. F. Clarke

Book - 2017

"'War is the locomotive of history,' claimed Trotsky, a remark thought to acknowledge the opportunity the First World War offered the Bolsheviks to seize power in Russia 1917. And here Peter Clarke uses it on a broader canvas to explore how war, rather than socioeconomic forces or individuals, is the prime mover of history. Twentieth-century warfare, based on new technologies and mass armies, saw the locomotive power of war geared up to an unprecedented level, and through the uniq...ue prism of this vast tragedy Peter Clarke examines the most influential figures of the day: David Lloyd George who, without the strains of war, would never have become prime minister in 1916; Winston Churchill who, except for the war crisis of 1940, would have been unlikely to be recalled to office; and John Maynard Keynes who, but for the same, would hardly have seen his own economic ideas and authority so suddenly accepted. Gladstone, Woodrow Wilson, Asquith, Roosevelt, they're all here in this highly sophisticated analysis of the lives, writings, decisions and pronouncements of the era's leaders. By following the trajectories of these influential lives Peter Clarke illuminates some of the crucial issues of the period: not only leadership and the projection of authority but also military strategy, war finance and the mobilization of the nation's personnel and economic resources. The Locomotive of War is a fascinating examination of the interplay between key figures in the context of unprecedented all-out war of 1914 and 1939 and the broader dynamics of history in an extraordinary period"--Publisher's description.

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Subjects
Published
New York : Bloomsbury Press 2017.
Language
English
Physical Description
ix, 418 pages : illustrations, map ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages 359-404) and index.
ISBN
9781620406601
1620406608
1408851652
9781408851654
Main Author
P. F. Clarke (author)
  • Part I. Peace and war
  • The disciple as prophet: Thomas Woodrow Wilson
  • A man of the people: David Lloyd George
  • Aristocrat and soldier: Winston Spencer Churchill
  • How the liberals started a world war
  • Goodbye to the Garden of Eden: John Maynard Keynes
  • Knight-errant of progressivism: Franklin Delano Roosevelt
  • The British war effort: Churchill, Lloyd George, Keynes
  • The American way in warfare: Wilson and House
  • Part II. War and peace
  • Agenda for the hall of mirrors: Clemenceau, Lloyd George, Wilson
  • The Fourteen Points in Paris: Wilson and Lloyd George
  • A Carthaginian peace? Keynes
  • Reparations and guilt: Lloyd George and Wilson
  • Further economic consequences: Keynes and Lloyd George
  • Second chances: Churchill, Roosevelt, Keynes
  • Epilogue: the legacies of war in the long run.
Review by Library Journal Reviews

Between the start and close of the Great War of 1914–18, British forces in arms increased from 400,000 to four million. The cost of waging war rose just as dramatically, putting pressure on the country's leaders to reconsider government spending, finance, conscription, and taxation. This illuminating history from Clarke (emeritus, modern history, Cambridge Univ.; Mr. Churchill's Profession) focuses not on the battles fought and lost in the war, but rather on how the conflict forced decision-makers to reconsider how they financed and organized the war effort. Rising leaders were given opportunity as well: British statesman David Lloyd George, British economist John Maynard Keynes, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, novice politician Winston Churchill, and then-senator Franklin D. Roosevelt. The author explains complicated issues in a masterly way; his discussion of the not always amicable relationship between Keynes and George is salutary. VERDICT There are many books about World War I, but Clarke brings a different perspective by highlighting the individuals who had to make choices that sometimes ran counter to their preferences. This readable account will find (and please) many fans.—David Keymer, Cleveland Copyright 2017 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

"War is the locomotive of history," Leon Trotsky declared in 1922, and former professor Clarke (Lancashire and the New Liberalism) uses this oft-quoted line as the driving force for his own narrative of world war and the making of liberal internationalism. Apart from their significance as global conflicts, he argues, the two world wars fundamentally altered the nature of Anglo-American capitalism, ushering in an era of full employment and decreasing inequality among classes—in other words, reform, not revolution. To Clarke, fully understanding this transformation involves rethinking the relationship between militarism and the political liberalism that flourished in the first half of the 20th century. Readers prepared for an exploration of these subjects will be disappointed, as Clarke instead embarks on a whistle-stop tour of the lives of prominent Anglo-American liberals, including Winston Churchill, David Lloyd George, John Maynard Keynes, and Woodrow Wilson, detailing their roles in the First and Second World Wars. While Clarke's tightly coiled prose is as incisive as ever, the focus on great men means the book falls short of its ambitious aims. It succeeds as a reassessment of several historiographical tropes—namely, German war guilt—but never teases out the implications of the dalliance between liberalism and militarism. War, it turns out, is apparently the locomotive of biography. (July) Copyright 2017 Publisher Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Explores the origins, impact, and consequences of the First and Second World Wars.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

An innovative exploration of the origins, impact, and consequences of the First and Second World Wars, from Peter Clarke, one of our foremost historians. "War is the locomotive of history," claimed Trotsky, a remark often thought to acknowledge the opportunity that the First World War offered the Bolsheviks to seize power in Russia 1917. Here, Peter Clarke broadens the application of this provocative suggestion in order to explore how war, as much as socioeconomic forces or individuals, is the primary mover of history. Twentieth-century warfare, based on new technologies and vast armies, saw the locomotive power of war heightened to an unprecedented level. Through the unique prism of this vast tragedy, Peter Clarke examines some of the most influential figures of the day, on both sides of the Atlantic. In Britain, David Lloyd George, without the strains of war, would never have become prime minister in 1916; Winston Churchill, except for the war crisis of 1940, would have been unlikely to be recalled to office; and John Maynard Keynes likewise would hardly have seen his own economic ideas and authority so suddenly accepted. In different ways, the shadow of the great nineteenth-century Liberal leader Gladstone hung over these men - as it did also over Woodrow Wilson in the United States, seeing his presidency transformed as he faced new issues of war and peace. And it was Franklin Roosevelt who inherited much of Wilson's unfulfilled agenda, with a second chance to implement it with greater success. By following the trajectories of these influential lives, Peter Clarke illuminates many crucial issues of the period: not only leadership and the projection of authority, but also military strategy, war finance and the mobilization of the economy in democratic regimes. And the moral dimension of liberalism, with its Gladstonian focus on guilt, is never forgotten. The Locomotive of War is a fascinating examination of the interplay between key figures in the context of unprecedented all-out warfare, with new insight on the dynamics of history in an extraordinary period.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

An innovative exploration of the origins, impact, and consequences of the First and Second World Wars, from one of our foremost historians.