The Road Less Traveled: The Secret Battle to End the Great War, 1916–1917

Philip Zelikow. PublicAffairs, $30 (352p) ISBN 978-1-5417-5095-1
Historian and former diplomat Zelikow (coauthor, To Build a Better World) meticulously chronicles the five-month period from late 1916 to early 1917, when Britain, Germany, and the U.S. tried to negotiate an end to WWI. Focusing on the period immediately preceding the collapse of the Russian monarchy and America’s entry into the war, Zelikow examines the shuttle diplomacy and secret cables sent between British prime minister H.H. Asquith, German chancellor Bethmann Hollweg, U.S. president Woodrow Wilson, and their top diplomats. Zelikow highlights David Lloyd George’s rise to the British premiership in December 1916 and public calls for a fight to “the finish” as one of the major hindrances to an agreement, as well as Germany’s “catastrophic” decision in early 1917 to push for unrestricted U-boat warfare, which in turn caused Wilson to cut diplomatic ties with the German empire. In Zelikow’s view, Wilson’s action was a betrayal of his “peace without victory” mantra, and ultimately forced the U.S. to go to war. Deeply researched and scathingly critical of the war’s foremost political figures, this history offers an intriguing look at what might have been. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 12/08/2020
Release date: 03/16/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-5491-1048-1
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