[Reading] ➸ The World Remade: America in World War I Author G.J. Meyer – Cheapnikeshoes.co

After Years Of Bitter Debate, The United States Declared War On Imperial Germany On April Plunging The Country Into The Savage European Conflict That Would Redraw The Map Of The Continent And The Globe The World Remade Is An Engrossing Chronicle Of America S Pivotal, Still Controversial Intervention Into World War I, Encompassing The Tumultuous Politics And Towering Historical Figures That Defined The Era And Forged The Future When It Declared War, The United States Was The Youngest Of The Major Powers And Militarily The Weakest By Far On November When The Fighting Stopped, It Was Not Only The Richest Country On Earth But The MightiestWith The Mercurial, Autocratic President Woodrow Wilson As A Primary Focus, G J Meyer Takes Readers From The Heated Deliberations Over US Involvement, Through The Provocations And Manipulations That Drew Us Into The Fight, To The Battlefield Itself And The Shattering Aftermath Of The Struggle America S Entry Into The Great War Helped Make Possible The Defeat Of Germany That Had Eluded Britain, France, Russia, And Italy In Three And A Half Years Of Horrendous Carnage Victory, In Turn, Led To A Peace Treaty So Ill Conceived, So Vindictive, That The World Was Put On The Road To An Even Bloodier Confrontation A Mere Twenty Years LaterOn The Home Front, Meyer Recounts The Break Up Of Traditional Class Structures, The Rise Of The Progressive And Labor Movements, The Wave Of Anti German Hysteria, And The Explosive Expansion Of Both The Economy And Federal Power, Including Shocking Suspensions Of Constitutional Protections That Planted The Seeds Of Today S National Security State Here Also Are Revealing Portraits Of Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Cabot Lodge, Robert La Follette, Eugene Debs, And John J Black Jack Pershing, Among Others, As Well As European Leaders Such As Welsh Wizard David Lloyd George Of Britain, Tiger Georges Clemenceau Of France, And Kaiser Wilhelm II Of GermanyMeyer Interweaves The Many Strands Of His Story Into A Gripping Narrative That Casts New Light On One Of The Darkest, Most Forgotten Corners Of US History In The Grand Tradition Of His Earlier Work A World Undone Which Centered On The European Perspective The World Remade Adds A New, Uniquely American Dimension To Our Understanding Of The Seminal Conflict Of The Twentieth Century

10 thoughts on “The World Remade: America in World War I

  1. says:

    When I write these reviews I do so with the belief that GR members read them for help in deciding if a book is worth reading They want to know what the book is about without spoilers and what I liked or didn t like about it along with any helpful comments or warnings It s a simple enough task and I tend to keep my reviews short and to the point Long drawn out analyzes can be saved for bookclub discussions or one on one meetings or emailings with friends I am telling you this because I think this review will be longer, maybe much longer, than what is usual for me because this book was a jaw dropper, at least for me About 3 years ago when the 100 year anniversary of WWI was approaching I felt the need to learn about that war I knew some things but not enough to feel I really understood the war I went searching for a book and found this author s A World Undone a complete history of that war I was somewhat familiar with Meyer as he had written a biography of the Borgias that I had read earlier In that book he challenged the popular understanding of Pope Alexander and his family with all their alleged depravity, greed, criminality etc His challenges were than a bit credible and gave the reader something to consider Based on my enjoyment of that book I bought and read Undone and was not disappointed I found his history of WWI to be as readable and understandable as one could hope to find for a war that was probably the most insane one ever fought by so called civilized nations Now, three years later, we have had the centennial of the U.S entry into WWI and Meyer has written another book tailor made for that anniversary, The World Remade , about America s involvement in WWI I have to say I was hesitant about the purchase because I couldn t imagine what the author could have written, and written to the extent of nearly 600 pages of text, that wasn t covered in Undone He must have had something to say if it took all those pages to say it so I bought the book and now I m finished reading it I can report that there was a lot to be said and what he has said were things I never knew and had a hard time believing I was reading things being done by our government that I could only imagine having been done in Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia This is an incredibly compelling book.First, while this book is about WWI and how the U.S got involved it really isn t about battlefield events of that war American battlefield exploits are mentioned and dealt with but only in a way that shows how political and diplomatic events either affected the army or how the army affected the politics and diplomacy Since this book is about how our country got into this war that means that the book is primarily about Woodrow Wilson and the politics and diplomacy occurring at home and in Europe What strikes me dumb, however, is the remarkable similarities between President Wilson and our current president as well as the divisions both of these men created and exploited among our citizenry Even astounding was the successful attack on the guarantees of the Bill of Rights that were used by the government to suppress dissent under the banner of patriotism and loyalty What we are experiencing today in this country are things that also occurred 100 years ago and to a much devastating effect What is it they say about those that do not know their history As for Wilson he seems to have suffered from some of the same character flaws apparent in our current president Wilson had an exaggerated belief in his own infallibility He believed he was born to do great things and winning the presidency in 1912, thanks to a GOP divided by T Roosevelt and President Taft, just validated this belief Wilson, while a conservative Southern Democrat, adopted the mantle of Democratic progressive to unite his party and win the White House Halfway through his first term Europe erupts into WWI and Wilson gets the idea that he alone can bring lasting peace to Europe Sadly, the British were better at this sort of thing and played Wilson and the American people like a bunch of country bumpkins When the war began the British cut the trans Atlantic cables connecting Germany to the U.S The British also established a very sophisticated PR operation with a whole division devoted to controlling what war news was released to the U.S The Germans had no way of telling their side of anything that occurred during the war Everything that Americans learned about the war in Europe came from the British and most of it was either exaggerated or was complete fabrication and anything negative about the Allies was suppressed Further, no reporters from countries other than the Allies was allowed access to the war front Wilson never questioned any of this and was already pro British since he had gone to school there Our entire perception of Germany and the course of the war was totally controlled by the British with the intent of keeping the U.S pro Allies and supporting them with war materials and money They were successful beyond even their imaginings.What makes all this interesting and very sad is Wilson s vision of how to achieve the peace he believed only he could bring to humanity was entirely possible Based on his reading of European history Wilson believed that every time there was a war in Europe somebody lost and was made to pay the price of defeat This price achieved nothing but resentment and the desire for revenge and, consequently, another war later on down the road Wilson believed that peace in Europe could only be achieved if no party was able to claim victory, basically call it a draw and no one can go home feeling resentment or a need for revenge Peace without victory was his dream for lasting peace He was probably correct about that and the British and French were quietly tolerant of this belief but otherwise thought Wilson naive and arrogant and the Allies went around secretly making deals to carve up Europe and the rest of the world to satisfy their greed once they won the war Another flaw of Wilson s was his isolation and confidence in the correctness of his own opinions and decisions He arrived at his decisions without consulting anybody that might have knowledge or expertise In fact he had absolutely no tolerance for anyone that disagreed or criticized him, his decisions, or opinions in any way As a result he surrounded himself with sycophants that knew that keeping their jobs meant flattering and praising the boss Does this sound like anybody we all know This matters because Wilson never challenged the reliability of what was being reported from Europe and he never knew about the devastating casualties being suffered by all the belligerents He also never understood the strength of his bargaining position with the Allied nations Had Wilson known that England and France were virtually bankrupt and without U.S money and material they were in as bad a shape as Germany he could have forced all parties to the peace table and achieved the peace without victory that he desired and felt was his God ordained destiny The sadness of this is that this war set the stage for the rest of the 20th century and we are still being affected by the consequences of this war today, especially in the Middle East Another good book I read 3 years ago is Lawrence in Arabia by Scott Anderson that deals with the Allies and their dirty dealing in the Middle East that haunt us today Had Wilson been of a skeptic and a cynic our world could have been much different, probably no Hitler, no WWII, no Iron Curtain, no nuclear bomb The mind reels at the world we missed thanks to a naive U.S president.But what about Wilson s affect on the home front Once Wilson decided that we had to enter the war and enter it on the side of the Allies he was not going to tolerate dissent The Democratic Congress passed the 1917 Espionage Act and then the 1918 Sedition Act that made dissent or opposition to the war a crime People were going to prison for 20 years for opposing our involvement in the war A man was reported by a relative for saying the war was being fought for the benefit of the Wall Street banks He was arrested and convicted and sent to prison Socialists were fair game to be arrested for not being 100 percent American , the catch phrase of the era Wilson used loyalty and treason as tools to attack his opposition and thereby create divisions among the people People could use these accusations to attack those that were different from what they thought Americans should be Of course these accusations were used against immigrants whose language, culture, dress, etc didn t fit popular American ideals Does this sound familiar And Wilson didn t flinch from accusing people that disagreed with him of being disloyal or being pro German, or worse being traitors As a retired lawyer what is even disheartening is that the victims of these gross injustices found absolutely no relief in the courts at any level Our concepts of justice was completely overborne by war hysteria This was a very dark time in our history and needs to be known by all of us in order to prevent a reoccurrence This is a book all Americans should read and read now.

  2. says:

    Though The World Remade America in World War I is big disappointment, in fairness to the author G J Meyer one should concede that he probably wrote the book he intended, but unfortunately not the book that I hoped for I wanted to find out why and how the United States found she had to enter the Great War on side of the allies The principal fault in the book is the lack of discussion or even recognition of the place in the world that America had achieved by the second decade of the last century Though militarily the United States had then created a navy comparable to the Royal Navy, her army was little than a frontier constabulary scarcely up to the task of chasing Pancho Villa out of Texas Had the war continued as expected well into 1919, she would have fielded the most powerful army in the world Leadership of western civilization had belonged to Spain in the 16th century, passed to France in the 17th century, Britain at the beginning of the 19th century Now it was American s turn, though it was a responsibility neither her politicians nor her people were ready to accept till 1945, perhaps not entirely even now, as the foreign policy of the current administration betrays.When I read the phrase, The American army s Springfield rifle was considered the best in the world, I realized that G J Meyer ought not to be writing military history In fact the British Short Magazine Lee Enfield Lee, BTW, was an American officer had twice the magazine capacity an experienced infantryman could fire it much faster, so fast that the Germans thought the British had a machine gun There are only a few chapters in this very long book given to the actual fighting by the AEF, mostly at a high level of abstraction, though we read a good deal about Douglas MacArthur Meyer seems to have missed the significance of the U boat campaign, and its role not only in America s entry into the war, but why it marked the necessity of abandoning passivity and leaving freedom of commerce to the Royal Navy to insure.The British might have committed technical violations of American neutrality with their no nonsense enforcement of their naval blockade, though I found Meyers hand wringing about starving German civilians maudlin if the Germans had cared about their civilian population s welfare, they could have ended the war they were occupying Belgium and Northern France, after all But the U boat ended the leisure the two oceans had provided to isolate the United States from what was going on in the rest of the world, though another couple of decades would pass before Americans would receive a demonstration of what enemy submarines off their coast could accomplish.Meyer notices, though in passing and mostly with respect to Wilson s ambitions, that only by entering the war could America play a significant role in making the peace, a peace that would result in redrawing the maps of three continents, with consequences that are very much still with us today, especially in the Middle East More important, as appears to have escaped the author, is that if America had remained neutral, the peace that would have resulted in Europe would have been the Peace of Brest Litovsk, leaving Germany and her clients masters of eastern Europe, and ultimately the most powerful rival claimant for world leadership.Of course, strategic reality had to be sold to the American electorate with the mushy moralism we still label Wilsonianism making the world safe for democracy and self determination but under all the mush there is not only a good deal of enlightened self interest, but a vital understanding of why America exists, of the duty of the people who inhabit the world s most powerful nation to make the world a civilized and peaceful polity, to banish cruel tyrants and unnecessary suffering The Romans understood that, the British understood that, and in 1917 it began to dawn on the Americans And it may dawn on G J Meyer.I am grateful to Random House and NetGalley for an ARC.

  3. says:

    A big thank you to G J Meyer, Bantam Books, and Netgalley for the free copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.The book sets the stage for a boiling pot Franz Ferdinand was a tiny spark that lit the powder that was Europe in the early twentieth century There seemed to be no way out once sides were drawn the Triple Entente Britain, France, Russia and the Central Powers Germany and Austria This war, remember, was a war to end all wars a war to the death Policy went out the window And everyone wanted the United States on his side.America s leader was Woodrow Wilson, a man who craved praise and approval He set himself on a pedestal and expected others to worship accordingly but on his own timeline From childhood he dreamed of a stately position and forged his education to fit the bill, becoming a lawyer only because it seemed to be a path to progress He butted heads with Theodore Roosevelt who found Wilson too cowardly to make momentous decisions At the start of the war in 1914 the US claimed neutrality This included its businesses JP Morgan, for example, refused a 100 million loan to France The stock market closed for four months because exports ceased But it soon became apparent that trade with the Entente would prove profitable And therein began the US biased relationship with the Allies and their supply lines It s never explicitly stated, but when Britain owed 1 billion and their loss meant throwing that debt into default, that s a huge push for the US to fight on the Allies side Shipping became complicated The British wished to enforce the Declaration of London, which outlined what products could be confiscated from ships But then they modified it Germany launched their U boats, which made all sea voyages risky As far as Germany was concerned the whole sea was a war zone Amazingly Wilson insisted that Americans had the right to travel waters in safety regardless of the ship armed, cargo, recreational, etc on which they chose This included on ships of countries that were at war.And this is when Wilson became uncompromising to the point of arrogance To quote Alan Seeger, a soldier and poet, I cannot understand the American state of mind nor why Americans have the temerity to venture into a declared war zone, much less let their wives and children go there Or what about this quote from German Foreign Minister, why not the right of free travel on land in war territory Wilson continued to sit clueless behind his typewriter drafting one ultimatum after another, insulting and appalling both the members of the Entente and the Central Powers By the time he narrowly won his second term of office he had become a narrow minded hypocrite who isolated himself from all disagreement or criticism and showed annoyance with outside interference, which included his Cabinet members and ambassadors As the United States government continued to hide behind closed doors and isolate itself, the war remained deadlocked Wilson wished to force peace talks, while Lloyd George refused any end except complete annihilation of the German forces, and the Kaiser refused to desist the u boat attacks So stale mate of the most catastrophic event the world had ever faced.While all of this was occurring in Europe, the citizens of America were also battling the women suffrage, early Prohibition, and increased taxes and inflation caused by the ballooning national debt Wilson was against the first, for the second, and the sole cause of the last, lending and spending as if the coffers were bottomless.Fatalistically the negotiations, and that term is used loosely, set the stage for the next world war Communist Russia was in place a weak, token republican Germany could not pay its reparations and feed its citizens most of Britain was disillusioned by the supposed justice meted out and France was obsessed with European domination Then there is the Middle East and its bloody wars, Japan s indignation, and Eastern Europe s confusion Nothing was settled except Wilson s grandiose machinations on the chess board of the globe.Freedom of speech was assaulted Hyphenates were beat on the streets, arrested, and deported The right to assemble was taken away Unions were busted The Espionage Act, passed in 1918, is still on the books.Myers did a fantastic job of laying the facts on the line I know the politics behind this war now and tons about President Wilson Very impressed No florid speech This serious subject was treated with the respect it is due.

  4. says:

    This is a fantastic book on WWI that is filled with information you wouldn t even have thought of, let alone realized that you should know it to begin with I was deeply impressed by the wealth of knowledge that the author, G.J Meyer, selflessly shared with readers Not only must it have taken literally YEARS to learn and compile this staggering amount of information, but to place it in a cohesive format for our benefit must have been no easy task.G.J Meyer also has a gift of language he managed to keep my interest by writing in such a way that it felt like I was reading a factual novel, rather than a thick, college level textbook.I definitely recommend this for people who are interested in learning about WWI and the part that the USA played in it.Thanks to netgalley.

  5. says:

    The World Remade is the sequel to G J Meyer s excellent The World Undone, which was a high level overview of WWI This book focuses on the United States involvement in the war There is not much coverage of battles, but rather the political maneuverings on how the US got involved in the war and public reactions to the war Much time is spent on Woodrow Wilson, his background as well as the part he played in bringing the country into the conflict and his role at the 1919 Peace Conference I did not know much about Wilson prior reading this book and had a mostly positive impression of him This book has made me rethink my views on his presidency I definitely want to delve into books on Wilson in order to get a broader perspective Meyer portrayed him as as an arrogant thin skinned, spiteful man with strong autocratic tendencies I was surprised to learn about the turmoil the war caused on the home front, and the polarization between people supporting the war and those opposed One of the things that happened as a result of protests against the war a severe crackdown on civil liberties Wilson and others felt that any expressions of dissent would be harmful to the war effort, and therefore, must be suppressed This resulted in the passage of the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918 I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in WWI.

  6. says:

    Disclosure I received a review copy of this book from NetGalley.G.J Meyer previously wrote a synthesis on the First World War which was fairly well received as a volume for the occasional reader into the subject It offered little originality but did distill a wide range of sources into a readable form His newest volume, The World Remade America in WWI, accomplishes the same task It offers very little new in its arguments, but can work well as a single book read for lay people interested in America s role in WWI and the new world it birthed.Meyer argues that Wilson was very much living in his own world before, during, and after WWI, largely disconnected from reality And this feature of Wilson s personality was central to America entering the war, it s conduct within, and it s failure after To Meyer, American entry into WWI was as much a product of Edward House as Woodrow Wilson He paints a picture of an administration very much disconnected from reality Where fact was insufficient to fulfill expectations, they were eager to insert alternate facts into their decision making This was fed, in turn, by a tight control of the media in wartime Britain and France, which carefully crafted a message to the American government and public As war became realty, the Wilson administration instituted its own control of domestic media, ensuring any deviation from alternate facts was severely punished America s rejection of Wilson made his dream of a new world order an impossible dream, yet he refused to stop pushing The resulting incomplete world order directly contributed to a Second World War a mere 21 years later But this is not entirely a story of Wilson s delusion Meyer also writes extensively on US preparedness and military campaigns, with varying accuracy He neither over nor understates the American contribution In addition to the main story, Meyer indulges in many digressions to describe characters in his drama This is a very readable and enjoyable book Meyer is able to keep the reader s attention through some fairly dry material The proof version I am reviewing has surprisingly few spelling or grammatical errors, and is well served by photographs and maps The final will likely be even complete in this regard He includes extensive notes and a short essay on his sources mostly secondary sources but he is not claiming to be engaging in new research Nevertheless, his secondary sources are often the leading monographs on their subjects Selecting the sources he s distilling is definitely a skill Meyer possesses there is little irrelevancy in them.This is not to say there are not problems Meyer s central theme of Wilson possessing great ability in self deception is perched on a foundation of psychohistory While any biography will engage in a certain amount of personality analysis, the simple fact that one cannot actually psychoanalyze a dead person largely delegitimizes the endeavor Interestingly, Meyer does mention a previous attempt to psychoanalyze Wilson Published in the 1930s in Europe, but not in the US until 1967, Thomas Woodrow Wilson A Psychological Study, is exceptionally infamous Its authors were William Bullitt, a career diplomat who was the first unofficial envoy and first official ambassador to the USSR, and Sigmund Freud, noted psychoanalyst The two argued that Wilson was a na ve religious fanatic but it is widely agreed that the book was mostly Bullitt exercising his grudge against his former boss While Meyer is aware of one discredited work, he is apparently unfazed by the general disrepute of the entire genre.Additionally, the book is a vast tome almost 700 pages, weighing in at 11138 positions in a Kindle ebook This is not a bad thing on its own, but a substantial amount of pages are dedicated to well written digressions of questionable relevancy Especially in the early part of the book, Meyer gives mini biographies of historical figures we meet, even when they don t play a significant role An entire section is devoted to William Jennings Bryan despite being in Wilson s administration at the start of the European war, he s out as SecState in June of 1915 and focuses his efforts on suffrage and conservative social reform, removing himself from the story except in snapshots While a reader who doesn t know of The Great Commoner may benefit, other readers gnash their teeth in impatience.Despite some shaky foundations and minor quibbles, The World Remade is a highly readable synthesis of the significance of America in the First World War and the resulting order imposed on the globe by the victors It may be apropos in a world in which the US debates removing itself once again from the position of power.

  7. says:

    This book is not a typical war book There is little mention of battles or combat conditions It is about the political and human impact of the Great War on the United States, before US involvement in the war, during the few months that the US was involved in combat, and the peace process after the Central powers surrendered The analysis of the combatants political processes is through and comprehensive The motivations of the combatants is extensively covered I learned several things from this book 1 Woodrow Wilson, aided and abetted by congress, was the greater abuser of the 1st amendment than any other president.2 The allied and central powers both committed what we would now consider war crimes3 The British were especially effective propagandists4 After reading the terms of the peace treaty, I understand how the German people were willing to follow Hitler.I view The Great War as the Seinfeld war in essence a war abut nothing After reading several books on this war, I still do not understand why the combatants were willing to suffer the losses that they endured during the stalemate that ran until the US entered the War.

  8. says:

    I was finally able to finish this very impressive history I was sidelined by the Winter Olympics and a couple of things I was obligated to read for a writer friend G J Meyer has the gift of a very readable, non pedantic style the narrative just flows seamlessly Not inclined to reinvent a well made wheel, I highly recommend David Eppenstein s excellent and comprehensive review it s what made me choose this book in the first place Thank you, David One minor quibble Perhaps it is only in the Kindle edition, but there is no superscript in the text to indicate notes I am an avid and devoted reader of notes, and although I prefer footnotes on the page, endnotes are fine, too, as long as I know a particular passage or quotation has a note.I am looking forward to A World Undone The Story of the Great War, 1914 to 1918 and The Tudors The Complete Story of England s Most Notorious Dynasty by the same author.

  9. says:

    I am giving this book five stars despite having some qualms about it It is a thoroughly engrossing story and the author does a great job of putting the reader in the context of the times and disentangles many perplexities of the period The qualm is with the books revisionism I guess if a revisionist gets it right it becomes the orthodox interpretation, however, I felt at times I was being given a story a factual story but a bit one sided in its interpretation I felt the author spent a great deal of time trying to tie an albatross around Wilson and Great Britain s neck in the war and defend Germany Maybe he is right and a corrective is needed here in the States and possibly the UK but I felt I was getting a bit of bias in the tale However, the author does present a very compelling narrative if unorthodox and definitely gives a clear picture on the issues of the time I recommend it not so much to endorse its judgments so much to be a good and engrossing narrative and a starter to explore other interpretations of some complex and disputed history.

  10. says:

    A fresh, provocative look at America s role in WW1 Written briskly, free from annoying jargon, Meyer argues that Wilson s shaky grasp of the issues, and handling of them, destroyed hopes for a peaceful Europe afterward and on the home front, damaged Constitutional freedoms Much of the history was new to me A scary, thoughtful book.