World War I: The Paradox of Semi-Modern War

Dennis Showalter.  Introduction by William Astore. Over the next four years, historians around the world will grapple with the meaning and legacies of the “Great War” fought one hundred years ago (1914-1918).  An epochal event in world history, World War I has as many meanings as it has had historians.  Among those historians, Dennis Showalter…

A Century of Mass Slaughter

W.J. Astore.  Also featured at Huffington Post. This August marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I. That “Great War” was many things, but it was most certainly a war of machines, of dreadnought battleships and “Big Bertha” artillery, of newfangled airplanes and tortoise-like tanks. Industrial juggernauts like Great Britain, France, and…

The Great War: Why the Germans Lost World War I

W.J. Astore To mark the 100th anniversary of World War I, which began in the summer of 1914, I’m posting this essay, which I wrote as a graduate student in 1992.  I’ve decided not to edit it since I believe my general conclusions remain sound.  Germany may have had the best military during World War…

Why We’re Outraged by Poison Gas

W.J. Astore A good friend of mine wrote to me about chemical weapons/poison gas in World War I, and it got me to thinking about why we’re so outraged by the recent use of poison gas in Syria. When you think about it (and who really wants to), there are so many bloody and awful…