out of 5
Review by Roland
'1919: Six Months That Changed the World' is a fascinating, informative book that covers the history following World War I, a complicated tangle of nationalism, imperialism, political bungling, and power jockeying that has for the most part escaped the attention of common outlets for history. While the diplomatic situations leading up to WWI are pretty well known, the outcome of the war is typically summed in two ideas, the vindictive Versailles Treaty and Wilson's Points, leading to the League of Nations. MacMillan's book details to fine degree why so much of Versailles went wrong, and why so much of what came out of the conference was a product of personalities rather than Wilson's idealism (though this, too, was a product of personality). There is a wealth of post WWI history that MacMillan put into proper reference. This was not just about nationalism, but the fact- for example- that the establishment of Poland was a rather bloody affair, leading to the conclusion that though the 'big' war had ended, a rash of smaller conflicts disseminated through smaller nations and lesser known regions. Sound familiar to today's world? It most certainly does, and as with most things historical, learning the history MacMillan presents here is a great way to understand some of the messes we have witnessed and continue to witness in today's world. This is an enriching, informative read, and MacMillan's prose flows smoothly throughout. As good as this book is, if one really wants a comprehensive reference for the period, start with John Keegan's excellent 'The First World War' and follow up with MacMillan's '1919'. Together, they form a definitive set for WWI history.