World War I

A.O. Scott published an excellent meditation on World War I Friday in the NY Times. Part of his theme:

World War I remains embedded in the popular consciousness. Publicized in its day as “the war to end all wars,” it has instead become the war to which all subsequent wars, and much else in modern life, seem to refer. Words and phrases once specifically associated with the experience of combat on the Western Front are still part of the common language. We barely recognize “in the trenches,” “no man’s land” or "over the top" as figures of speech, much less as images that evoke what was once a novel form of organized mass death. And we seldom notice that our collective understanding of what has happened in foxholes, jungles, mountains and deserts far removed in space and time from the sandbags and barbed wire of France and Belgium is filtered through the blood, smoke and misery of those earlier engagements.

Yet in America, the war seems barely studied in schools, let alone remembered by the general public. Given that the 100th anniversary of its start will be observed next month, I wonder if that will change.


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