Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Reading on the Eve of Destruction


We know no spectacle in human history more instinct with pathos than that of these twelve million men, busy with the cares, hopes and joys of daily life, working in their fields or mills, or seated these summer evenings by their cottage doors with their wives and children about them, making their simple plans for thrift or festival, unconscious of the fate which now drew near, and which would exact from them there all. Only a signal is needed to transform these multitudes of peaceful peasants and workmen into the mighty hosts which will tear each other to pieces year after year with all the machinery of science, with all the passions of races, and all the loyalties of man.

Yet it should not be supposed by future generations that much direct compulsion was required. Of all the millions who marched to war in August 1914, only a small proportion went unwillingly away. The thrill of excitement ran through the world, and the hearts of even the simplest masses lifted to the trumpet-call. A prodigious event had happened. The monotony of toil and of the daily around was suddenly broken. Everything was strange and new. War aroused the primordial instincts of races born of strife. Adventure beckoned to her children. A larger, nobler life seemed to be about to open upon the world. But it was, in fact, only Death.

p. 93, The Unknown War. Sir Winston Churchill

5 comments:

  1. He *does* have a way with words, doesn't he?

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  2. It's a talent that surpassed mediums..he wrote with the same flourish he orated in! This one is a bit too exactingly detailed for me, but the infrequent pauses for reflection make it worthwhile.

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  3. I have some books about him coming up. Also there's a short book of his most famous speeches on my shelf that I must read at some point.

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  4. Sounds fun. I have a backlog of reviews and comments myself...though I may be doing a bit more fiction for a week or two. The mind is feeling a bit bushed.

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  5. My review pile is 8 deep ATM. There's some good stuff in there with more to come. I'm 2/3 of the way through a short set of books on the French Occupation and also just 2/3 of the way through a short set of philosophy books. I think my short sharp forays into subjects is already baring fruit...

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