The Ends of Greatness: Haig, Petain, Rathenau, and Eden: Victims of History

Gene A. Smith, Author
Gene A. Smith, Author Crown Publishers $19.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-517-57733-2
Reviewed on: 05/01/1990
Release date: 05/01/1990
Smith ( Lee and Grant ) holds that the First World War was far more terrible in meaning and portent than World War II, that the latter had positive benefit to mankind while the former left many with the conviction that the sacrifices of 1914-1918 were ``for nothing.'' This gloomy but engrossing book tells the stories of four disparate public figures who survived the Great War but whose lives were tragically haunted by it. Douglas Haig, commander of British forces in France, lived on in infamy as the heartless butcher of the Western front; Henri Petain, victor at Verdun, became the architect of collaborationist France in 1940; Walter Rathenau, German foreign minister, was assassinated in 1922 by anti-Semitic nationalists, becoming ``the first and most significant victim'' of what came to be called the Holocaust; Anthony Eden, veteran of the Somme, presided as prime minister over the death throes of the British empire during the 1956 Suez crisis. (June)
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