By SIR DESMOND MORTON World War I: (An Outline History), by Hanson Baldwin
MILLIONS of words must already have been printed about the War of 1914. Mr. Hinson Baldwin, the Military Editor of the New York Tinic%. has used but 60,11110 on 161 pages for what he calls an outline history" of the whole affair. This includes One chapter out of seven on the causes and another on the consequences of the conflict.
It is remarkable that within an so small a compass he should have succeeded so well. The hook is cheap only in price and in no way resembles the apocryphal diary of a tourist visiting Greece on a "rush" tour: "Friday Athens: Saw ruins, one on a hill, and an agora where St. Paul once was. Good fish dinner."
An outlide necessarily lacks depth and. normally. colour. but by a selection of telling words. facts and quotations, Mr. Baldwin suggests to the reader a wide field (Or speculation. He even finds space to offer brief opinions on the charcatcr and ability of the chief military and political leaders. His judgment of Lord Haig. for example, is pithy but kindlier than
t ha I of many of the I add M a reha l's compatriots.
Pedestrian "Haig: pedestrian, stubborn, and unperceptive but in his few grand moments. grim in resolution in a testing time."
He is no less direct in his comments on American personalities. of President Wilson. referred to elsewhere as "the idealistic school meter'', he observes On April 6 (1917) the United Stales joined the war. Thus the President who only live months before had won a close election on the platform 'he kept us out of war% became an apostle of `force, force to the utmost. force without stint or limit'."
The value of the labour spent in engraving the Lord's prayer on a pin's head is debatable. It would be unjust to compare it with the value of Mr. Baldwin's book. which can he read with enjoyment withtnit the aid of a Magnifying glass.
In the highest circles of historical criticism some of his conclusions could give rise to controversy. Nevertheless, the events and controversies of the First World War being now as recondite In the present generation as arc those of Wellington's campaigns. the hook may serve as a "crib" for those seeking an undeserved reputation for historical knowledge.