Book Review: 1919 Versailles by Charles L. Mee Jr. (Four Stars)

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Book Review: 1919 Versailles: The End of the War to End All Wars by Charles L. Mee Jr.

(Four Stars)

“It is always easier to start a war than to end one, let alone win it. … Harshness and vengeance nearly always return to haunt those who impose them. But of all the lesson that Versailles leaves us with, certainly the most insistent is that of the inability of the few any longer to govern the many.”

Exhaustive rendering of how the world’s leaders–especially France’s Clemenceau, Britain’s Lloyd George and America’s Wilson–crowned the horror of World War One with the charade of a “peace” that virtually guaranteed World War Two. That’s not news to most readers, but Woodrow Wilson’s role in raising then dashing international hopes may be.

“[Wilson] believed in words, in their beauty, in their ability to move people, in their power to give shape, and structure, and cohesion to the world–in their power, he appeared to believe, to transform reality.”

Wilson conducted secret negotiations with the Germans before the armistice, tempting them with a peace based on his famous Fourteen Points, which he could not subsequently deliver. Mee describes Wilson as having the worst traits of our last two presidents, plus a bit of LBJ. Most of us know the nasty old Republicans killed Wilson’s League of Nations; we’re wrong. Wilson killed the League and most of his other talking points. (By the way, he started having strokes before he was elected, not as a result of his campaign to sell the treaty to the people.)

“How can I talk to a fellow who thinks himself the first man for two thousand years who has known anything about peace on earth?” asked French PM Clemenceau.

Like the conference, the book loses direction after the assassination attempt on Clemenceau and Wilson and Lloyd George’s mid-term escape to their respective countries. Mee wanders off into social criticism and twaddle.

“When he wrote his biography of George Washington, [Wilson] avoided primary sources and wrote the book entirely out of secondary sources. When he was president he rarely read the newspapers and only cursorily glanced at weekly press summaries.”

A must read for students of the horrible carnage that wracked the world a hundred years ago. Also a necessary palliative for those hypnotized by imperial presidents since.

“As time went on, [Wilson] seemed neither as idealistic nor as cunning as he was thought to be.”

There’s a reason Woodrow Wilson is absent from the pantheon of Democrat saints. Read this book to find why.

“This war was fought by the United States to destroy forever the conditions which produced it. Those conditions have not been destroyed. They have been supplanted by other conditions equally productive of hatred, jealousy, and suspicion.” wrote US Secretary of State Lansing.

1 thought on “Book Review: 1919 Versailles by Charles L. Mee Jr. (Four Stars)

  1. Pingback: Wilson to Blame for Delayed Armitice | As a Matter of Fancy

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