The Splintered Empires: The Eastern Front 1917-21

Published: October 13th, 2017     
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Author: Brit Buttar
Reviewed by: Ben Morton - IPMS# 47301
ISBN #: 9781472819857
Other Publication Information: 450 pages - $30.00 US / $40.00 Canada / $13.99 e Book
Price: $30.00

That Thing You Do! is a 1996 American musical written and directed by Tom Hanks in his directorial debut; he also co-stars in it. Set in the summer of 1964, the film tells the story of the rise and fall of a one-hit wonder pop band. The film also resulted in a musical hit with the song "That Thing You Do". (Wikipedia)

One of the more memorable lines from the film involves one member (Steve Zahn) of the band, reflecting upon their collective fate, asking another member (Tom Everett Scott), "How did we get here?" His response is "I led you here, sir, for I am Spartacus."

It is often mentioned that the execution of the Archduke Ferdinand and his wife in Sarajevo by Serbian nationalists was the catalyst for the beginning of the First World War. While that event did have an effect, forces were already in motion prior to that circumstance that really laid the foundation for that war.

In his introduction to The Splintered Empires: The Eastern Front 1917-21, Brit Buttar writes: The war that engulfed Europe in the last months of 1914 had been dreaded for years, but there were many in every country who welcomed its coming. Their reasons for doing so were varied, but the failure of the three great European empires - Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Russia - to anticipate the nature of war in the industrial age ultimately led to their destruction.

With the release of The Splintered Empires: The Eastern Front 1917-21, Brit Buttar is concluded his study of the Eastern Front during the First World War. This is the fourth volume of a well researched and written history of The War To End All Wars. The other volumes in the series are Collision of Empires, Germany Ascendant, and Russia's Last Gasp.

To say that this series is the unequivocal history of the First World War on the Eastern Front would not be out of order. Prit Buttar outlines, in great detail and scholarship , how we got here. From Brit Buttar's writing the empires that existed at the beginning of the First World War all had their reasons for beginning an endeavor that was, ultimately, beyond their comprehension or control.

From his chapter on The Imperfect Peace, Prit Buttar writes: In some respects the First World War belongs more to the 19th century than the 20th century. It was a conflict with imperial monarchs, the widespread use of cavalry, and statesmen who believed that they could arbitrarily redraw the maps of the world. Perhaps the cultural memory of the vast waste of the First World War helped the nations of the world, if only to a limited extent, from making similar miscalculations during the nuclear age.

Mr. Buttar lays out in over 450 pages a cogent narrative of the variables, geographic considerations, and the principal players involved as the per-World War I empires imploded. From the dissolution of Russia (Bolshevik Revolution) to a thorough discussion, analysis of the Pygmy Wars that followed in Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland The Splintered Empires: The Eastern Front 1917-21, may be the quintessential history of that era. It is a scholarly read for layman or dedicated historian, and helps to answer the question, "How did we get here?"

My thanks to Osprey Publishing for the review copy. Cheers.

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