Haunted by the hell of the trenches

The historian Christopher Clark has written of the ‘raw modernity’ of the summer crisis of 1914 which led to the First World War. A terrorist incident, taking place at a time when empires are in decline and new powers rising – that is something everybody can understand.

The World Today
1 minute READ

Alan Philps

Former Editor, The World Today, Communications and Publishing

In our cover story, James de Waal examines another enduring political link across the century: the blame game for the poor prosecution of war. In the aftermath of the Great War, it was the generals who were derided as ‘donkeys’. In the era of Iraq and Afghanistan, it is the politicians who are pilloried. So far British generals, enjoying higher standing with the public and press than the politicians, have had an easy ride, but that may not last.

Nicholas Bird, a Great War ‘swot’ since the 1960s, looks at why people are still drawn to the battle elds of the Somme. There are many good reasons – and some spurious ones.

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