Today is the hundredth anniversary of the gunning down of Franz Ferdinand and his wife in Sarajevo. As all my IB History students know, this spark precipitated the opening guns of the First World War. I’ll be posting about these anniversaries as the year progresses.
Monthly Archives: June 2014
Tuchman’s chapter title, “Home Before the Leaves Fall,” quotes the Kaiser’s words to his troops predicting a short war. You will see these hopes broadly echoed as you read the chapter. Pay special attention to the way the British Empire came into the First World War. The next chapter in this week’s selection is an interesting interlude, describing the pursuit of two German ships in the Mediterranean. Keep in mind the significance of the Ottoman Empire in the First World War as you follow the Goeben and Breslau to Constantinople.
IB History Year 2 Reading: “The War That Never Goes Away” and “From Limited to Total War, 1861-1865”
The first essay in this week’s selection pertains to one of our first class discussions of the school year. McPherson seeks to explain the lasting fascination in this country with the Civil War. Pay attention to his explanations, as they point to the significance of the war. The second essay focuses on what will be a chief underlying theme of the course when we cover the Civil War itself, and that is the question of whether and to what extent it was a total war. McPherson’s discussion of the definition and nature of total war will prove useful not only in studying the Civil War, but also for reviewing the first twentieth century topic from last year. Consider while you read if the Civil War ever became a total war, and why. The reasons for the development of a “hard” or “destructive” war, as different historians have termed it, are important.
Despite the loss to Germany, the U.S. advances to the last 16!
The “Review” section of this weekend’s Wall Street Journal is entirely devoted to the First World War. Margaret MacMillan wrote the first article, and it includes contributions from Gary Sheffield, Andrew Roberts, Max Hastings, and other historians who come up in the first year IB History course. Be looking in the media as we are approaching the hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the conflict.
This week’s selection begins with the enduring problems of the Russian Empire, and the ultimate failure to enact reforms in the army. Consider why Russia pledged to fight in support of France, and how its contribution would affect the course of the coming war. Tuchman proceeds from war plans to the first days of the war. Focus on the relationship between Germany’s military leadership and the Kaiser, and why Wilhelm II and Helmuth von Moltke made the fateful choices that would ultimately turn a European war into a global one. What steps were the French and British taking in the face of the coming German advance? Pay attention to the problems faced by the British government as it balanced its tacit commitment to France with the need to keep the support of a people reluctant to go to war. Finally, ponder the implications of Germany’s ultimatum to Belgium, and the decision of Albert I to resist.
Over the next week, you should be reading the second and third essays in the McPherson book. “Tom on the Cross” provides insight into Harriet Beecher Stowe’s motivations and strategy in writing Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Pay special attention to McPherson’s analysis of why the book was so effective. The title of the following essay is a play on an older Southern name for the Civil War. In the essay, McPherson discusses the South’s “offensive-defensive” strategy in the growing sectional conflict. You may find this a helpful framework when we discuss the coming of the Civil War this fall.