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‘With The Mystery and Menace of Fog’
A Blueprint for Armageddon by Dan Carlin
© 2013 James LaFond
Dan Carlin’s most recent audio book/podcast covers the immediate cause and initial combat of The Great War, or, as we know it, World War One. As usual he chooses his quotes well from a wide variety of sources, including my favorite, Barbara Tuchman.
Dan was at his best with a detailed explanation of exactly how Arch Duke Ferdinand of Austria and his wife were incompetently and improbably killed while a foiled assassin was breaking for lunch. Much of this material was new to me.
Dan is at his best discussing the Kaiser of Germany as being an inevitably ‘bad roll on the monarchial dice’. His best points come at the expense of Germany, as he refutes much of the revisionist history about Hitler’s keen predictive insights, reveals the policy of ‘fright’ in which German soldiers executed entire communities as part of normal military operations as a precursor to the holocaust, and points out that the vaunted German Military of WWII was in reality a pale imitation of its predecessor.
But Dan has plenty of blame to cast, as every nation of Europe seems to have been staggering along like a broken robot designed to fulfill some rich brat’s wildest destructive fantasy. His overall theme seems to be best summed up in his statement, ‘when romance runs into reality.’ There were also many memorable period quotes, as the people of that bygone era still engaged in charmingly stilted and presumptuous speech, uttering statements such as ‘Woe to him who sets Europe alight.’
We might think sometimes that we live in a world that has ‘gone mad.’ But the people of 1914 Europe lived in a world that had been ‘born mad.’
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