The Great Class War 1914-1918

by Jacques R. Pauwels

Far from an accident of history, the First World War was a long sought-after event welcomed by European elites as a check against democratization and socialist reforms — but the war had far-reaching and unexpected consequences.

Historian Jacques Pauwels applies a critical, revisionist lens to the First World War, offering readers a fresh interpretation that challenges mainstream thinking. As Pauwels sees it, war offered benefits to everyone, across class and national borders.

For European statesmen, a large-scale war could give their countries new colonial territories, important to growing capitalist economies. For the wealthy and ruling classes, war served as an antidote to social revolution, encouraging workers to exchange socialism's focus on international solidarity for nationalism's intense militarism. And for the working classes themselves, war provided an outlet for years of systemic militarization -- quite simply, they were hardwired to pick up arms, and to do so eagerly.

To Pauwels, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in June 1914 -- traditionally upheld by historians as the spark that lit the powder keg -- was not a sufficient cause for war but rather a pretext seized upon by European powers to unleash the kind of war they had desired. But what Europe's elite did not expect or predict was some of the war's outcomes: social revolution and Communist Party rule in Russia, plus a wave of political and social democratic reforms in Western Europe that would have far-reaching consequences.

Reflecting his broad research in the voluminous recent literature about the First World War by historians in the leading countries involved in the conflict, Jacques Pauwels has produced an account that challenges readers to rethink their understanding of this key event of twentieth century world history.

About the Author

JACQUES R. PAUWELS has taught European history at the University of Toronto, York University and the University of Waterloo. He is the author of several books on twentieth-century history, including The Myth of the Good War, in which he provides a revisionist look at the role of the United States and other Allied countries in the Second World War. An independent scholar, Pauwels holds PhDs in history and political science. He lives in Brantford, Ontario.

Reviews

Jacques Pauwels is hands down one of the most important historians writing today. His work combines profound erudition with pristine clarity. He has a unique ability to channel his expansive historical knowledge into pedagogical narratives that carefully walk the reader through extremely complex historical developments. The result is, quite simply, a series of the best books on modern and contemporary history that can—and should!—be read by both specialists and complete novices. Moreover, his commitment to the tradition of what Domenico Losurdo referred to as “counter-history” leads his readers through the looking glass, so to speak. Instead of the hackneyed stories peddled by the mainstream media and educational institutions, he delivers to his readers truly insightful, and sometimes surprising, accounts of what actually happened. His books are thus real page turners that are enthralling to read and amenable to a very large audience. I regularly teach his work and recommend it to students, professors and other interested parties. I have only heard praise of his work from those to whom I’ve recommended it.

 

Professor Gabriel Rockhill, Villanova University
"A study of wide scope and great importance, regardless of the political position from which it is viewed."
David Frati, Mangialibri
"Pauwels' thoroughly compelling narrative leads the reader to the ineluctable conclusion that elitists have been manipulating and leading the masses, unwilling or not, to the killing fields ... The Great Class War 1914-1918 is a magnificent opus."
Kim Petersen, Dissident Voice

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