Book Review: The Vanquished

The Vanquished: Why the First World War Failed to End by Robert Gerwarth, Copyright 2016, Farrar, Straus, Giroux. 464 Pages.

The great conflagration of World War I lasted from July 28, 1914 until the armistice of November 11, 1918, when hostilities ended to both grieving and fanfare. Last year, as the centennial of the end to the War to End All Wars, many in France, Britain, Germany, the United States, Canada, Australia New Zealand, and all over Europe reflected on this great and solemn occasion. It was a chance to both remember the human tragedy of The Great War and to celebrate our forebears who fought bravely in places like Flanders, Gallipoli, Verdun, and the Somme.

For many in the west, the story of the twentieth centuries baptism of fire ends on November 11, 1918. Or, at least, that is the conventional wisdom. Following the armistice, it was merely a matter of hammering out the details before the Treaty of Versailles was signed less than a year later on June 28, 1919. Those a little more savvy might recall that not every belligerent had the same government or borders following the war as they had going in, and that Treaty of Versailles left unhappy some figures who would become important later on. What many in the west are unaware of, though, is that the years from 1918 until 1923 were just as brutal and deadly as the years between 1914 and 1918.

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