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Contributions in Military Studies #187: Soldier and Warrior: French Attitudes Toward the Army and War on the Eve of the First World Warby H. L. Wesseling
Synopses & Reviews
In France the decade preceding the outbreak of the First World War was characterized by a revival of nationalism and militarism. Wesseling analyzes the ideas current in France in this period about the use, value, and beauty of war, the army, and army life. In examining the French army of the period, Wesseling found that at the same time that new forms were sought, old values were being emphasized. Attempts at reforms were most frequent in those areas where antimilitarist writers had concentrated their criticism. Next to this there also was a new glorification of traditional military virtues: disinterestedness, submission, and discipline.
In conceptualizing war, as Wesseling shows, a distinction can be made between speculations on war as a concrete phenomenon and as an abstract notion. During the period, war was looked upon as a factor of renewal and regeneration. The years from 1905 to 1914 were of great importance for the history of the military problem in France. A new appreciation of the ideals that were preached in the army came into being. Though this did not lead to militarism in the sense that the military determined politics, as Wesseling illustrates, it did lead to a militarist attitude.
Book News Annotation:
Attempts to convey a picture of the views and conception of war in the minds of key figures and the general public in France during the decade before WWI, and examines the development of attitudes toward the army, drawing on analysis of primary documents reflecting international politics and changes in the intellectual climate. First published as Soldaat en krijger in The Netherlands in 1969. Wesseling is professor of general history at the University of Leiden and rector of the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
In the ten years before 1914 a great number of French writers and publicists started to praise and glorify the French army and to idealize war. Wesseling provides a systematic analysis of their reasonings and argumentations that glorified the army as a school for the nation and idealized war as a blessing for France.
Analyzes the ideas current in France before World War I that glorified the army and idealized war as a blessing for France.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -242) and index.
About the Author
H. L. WESSELING is Professor of General History at the University of Leiden and Rector of the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study at Wassenaar.
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