Interdisciplinary Social Sciences’s Updates

A War Is Long Over, but Many Still Seek to Learn Its Lessons

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons / RedTony | Article Link | by Steven Erlanger

Salzburg, Austria — Margaret MacMillan, who has written one of the best recent histories of the origins of World War I, finds the current fascination with the war gratifying but odd, even with this year’s 100th anniversary commemorations. She says she thinks that today’s interest lies as much in the very confusion surrounding the causes of the Great War as in the parallels to our own anxious, transitional time.

How could a Europe that had been so prosperous and so largely peaceful for so many years, that was basking in a glorious period of trade and technological advance, that was flourishing within a long-established global order, have been thrown — in the course of a month — into the bloodiest conflict the world had then ever seen?

“Our interest in history always reflects our own times,” Ms. MacMillan said. “We had the certainty of the Cold War, which had its particular clarity. But we’re now living in a much more complicated world, with low-level conflicts that never seem to conclude, and the sense of things ending somehow, of a great period of transition.”