World War I is known as the Great War and the War to End All Wars, but it seems like World War II gets all the attention in schools, media and history books. I for one don’t remember learning a lot about WWI in school. I do remember learning a lot and reading a lot about WWII however. So my knowledge about WWI is limited. This book by Jim Murphy was an excellent source of information about the events leading up to the start of the war and some of the things that took place during the war. It is astounding that this is a war that really could have been avoided. The Serbs were willing to give in and had basically caved to all demands, but Franz Josef went ahead and invaded anyway. And then everyone else followed along and 8 million people died and millions of acres of Europe were destroyed and Hitler was created and WWII followed. It is amazing the chain of events that was created because one man decided to ignore something.
The Christmas Truce on the other hand is a testament to man’s goodness. Both sides are entrenched across No Man’s Land. The occasionally shoot at each other or make raids but otherwise they are stuck in their trenches as Christmas approaches. Then on Christmas they decide to stop fighting, they come out of their trenches and share gifts and meals, they sing songs and spend time together. These truces last long past Christmas in many areas and the enemies realize that they are not monsters they are just men. It is a beautiful thing in the midst of a horrible war. The men on the ground realize none of them want to fight even as their superior officers rage at them to keep fighting this senseless war.
Jim Murphy has a wonderful way of bringing nonfiction to life. He does not write in a dry boring style, but a flowing narrative way that is interesting and really brings history to life in a way that young people (and not so young people) want to read it.