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Monday, August 2, 2010

The Barbarism of Berlin by G.K. Chesterton

G.K. Chesterton's The Barbarism of Berlin is a lengthy essay (442 kindle "locations" or about 33 pages) defending the decision by the U.K. to join World War I and fight the Central Powers, Germany in particular.

It is a testament to Chesterton's powerful skills as a writer that I found myself agreeing with him so much because I've typically found World War I to have been one of the most extraordinary wastes of lives in the long history of a world that regularly wastes lives. Note that I do not agree with Chesterton's final conclusion (the war was a worthwhile investment of time, energy and lives) but he does make compelling arguments and the essay is worth reading just to have them so well laid out in front of you.

G.K. Chesterton
Chesterton makes a compelling argument that Germany's outlook on the world is different than France's and England's and that these competing worldviews are bound to confront. Eventually, one will win out - thus the war. Or, as he buts it, Germany has "the perfectly serious aim of destroying certain ideas, which, as they think, the world has outgrown; without which, as we think, the world will die." (location 118)

The essay is a bit dated by anachronstic racial terms and stereotypes, acceptable then but not now - but a knowledgeable reader understands that the world is a different place now. Worthy of your time if you are a history buff, especially a student of "The War to End All Wars."

I rate this essay 4 stars out of 5.

Reviewed on February 20, 2010.

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