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G.LOWES DICKINSON is the author of many books, most of which deal with politics and war. His publisher calls him a "great historian": it would perhaps be more correct to term him a great publicist, since the purpose of his writing is not merely to state facts, but also to develop these facts as illustrations of a particular theory. To those who have read his little volume entitled "A Modern Symposium," no introduction will be necessary. The same charm of style, the same aptness and simplicity of expression are here applied to historical data.
It s but natural that the minds of thinking men, and particularly of those men who have made a lifelong study of the affairs of nations, should be occupied with the question of war, its causes, and the methods for its prevention. The period immediately after the Great War was one chiefly of recriminations. Men of more moderate tendencies reserved their opinions until passions should have had time to cool. In the last year or two, however, there has been a flood of literature upon the subject. Some of it is frankly partisan, assessing the war guilt with mathematical precision, and assuming an omniscience as to cause and result little short of superhuman. Some of it, like the present work, is well thought out and impartially presented.
Even admitting that more is known about the Great War than any other war, so close have the writers been to the scenes which they attempt to describe, that the endeavors to correlate this information have resembled indigestion rather than perfect assimilation. Mr. Dickinson, however, seems to have that mathematical turn of mind which can weigh and balance facts in their true perspective.
The author has a theory as to the causes of the late war. He believes that the arming of states ipso facto makes them a menace to each other. The policies which they adopt may seem to them defensive, but in the end they prove to be offensive. Since the diplomatic game is played in the dark. It results in much sharp practice and the condoning of methods which would otherwise be frowned upon. Every advantage is taken of the power of the press to create propaganda and to lead the public opinion in a certain way.
The war, in the author's opinion, was due chiefly to the balance of power, armaments and counter-armaments, diplomacy, national honor, and the press. He shows how these factors were at work since 1870 in Europe. He sketches the formation of the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente. He goes deeper into such specific causes for unrest as Morocco, the annexation of Bosnia, Tripoli, the Bagdad Railway, Persia, the Far East, and the Balkan wars.
At the end of the book he suggests it a single paragraph what he regards as the solution, that is, a League of Nations to which all states are party. Whether or not the reader agrees with the author, he can hardly fail to find the body of the book interesting and stimulating. Mr. Dickinson does himself an injustice when he says that the book will be unappreciated by any but trained minds. Rarely are history and literary charm so well united
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