Monday, April 02, 2007

English Speaking Peoples

Appalling stats from the Great War (WWI) per Andrew Roberts in his book:

62M soldiers mobilized (42.2M Allied; 22.8M Central)

8M soldiers killed (4.88M Allied; 3.13M Central)

6.6M civilians killed (3.15M Allied; 3.45M Central)

21.2M total wounded

The US, due primarily due to its late entry into the war, suffered 50K soldiers killed and 206K wounded.

When one considers the populations (relative to today) of these countries and alliances in the teens of the 20th Century, these numbers are astounding. Particularly amazing are the numbers (relative to their respective populations at the time) were the numbers contributed by Australia, Canada, New Zealand and even the British West Indies. (Interestingly, though one of the prime reasons for going to war was to protect France from the hegemony of the Central powers in Continental Europe, the Quebecois participated in substantially lower numbers, both in absolute terms and as a percentage of population, than the balance of Canada.)

The obvious comparison to the Middle East today makes me blush.

In the author's narrative leading up to the Great War, he really lionizes Teddy Roosevelt which I found a bit surprising even though I've been giving the ol' boy a bit more credit lately. He is credited with the foresight of the US needing a world-class navy to really put itself at its deserved place as the new world power.

Wilson is suffering from good intentions with bad unexpected consequences but apparently FDR will really shine when I get that far.

So far The History of the English Speaking Peoples Since 1900 is much less a slog than I thought it would be. It is crisply written in spite of the abundance of numbers like those cited above. I'm obviously through the first 18 years or so. If I haven't mentioned it before, the central thought is one with which I'm not really sure I agree, namely, that 1000 years from now historians and history students will look back on the Brits, Aussies, Yanks, Canucks, Kiwis et al as one people, hence the name of the book. Much like we don't really distinguish between Republican and Imperial Rome, he contends we will be viewed as one entity. I might agree with the premise through 2006 or 7, but things may be changing especially if one agrees with the premise of Mark Steyn's America Alone. I hope not, but maybe.

Interesting discussion of the Boer War and lots of background from the British Empire of the 19th Century.

He's not afraid to address the warts but neither is he ashamed to draw the comparisons that need to be drawn about the virtues of the "empires" of the English speaking peoples. Washington's Farewell Address admonishing against foreign entanglements takes several beatings.

So far, so good. If this continues, I'll have to put this next to Thomas Sowell's Basic Economics as a must read in Scooter's Library.

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