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Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the…

Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World (2001)

by Margaret MacMillan

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,142453,052 (4.07)174
  1. 10
    The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914 by Margaret MacMillan (Scotland)
  2. 10
    Rites of Peace: The Fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna by Adam Zamoyski (Scotland)
  3. 00
    Later Chapters of My Life: The Lost Memoir of Queen Marie of Romania by Diana Mandache (Scotland)
    Scotland: The early chapters of this book are focused on Queen Marie's appearance at the Paris Peace Conference, including descriptions of interviews with all the major players. Very inciteful perspective.
  4. 00
    At the Sharp End by Tim Cook (sushidog)
    sushidog: The micro view of Canadians in the First World War vs. what it all meant.
  5. 00
    Dare Call It Treason by Richard M. Watt (niklin)

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» See also 174 mentions

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On April 6, 2017 The US launched missiles at Syria in response to Syria's use of chemical weapons on its own citizens two days earlier; several newscasters remarked that day that it was also the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry into WWl. There have been a number of 100th anniversaries related to that war in recent years and it has sparked an interest in many casual history readers like myself to become more familiar with events of that era, including pre and post war. Fortunately, there now are a number of excellent WWl related books, some written a number of years ago, but many written within the last two decades. Within the past year I have read: "The Sleepwalkers"* - Clark (re events pre-war); "The Guns of August"* - Tuchman (re the first month of the war, August 2014); "With Our Backs to the Wall" - Stevenson and "No Man's Land"* (the last two focused on the trench warfare from late 2014 until the war's end).

I highly recommend the asterisked books. They are very well written, incredibly interesting to the point where I looked forward with anticipation to reading further, and highly readable. For me, the latter descriptor was perhaps the most important, though hard to define. In part, "readable" is somewhat redundant with "well written" and "interesting" and maybe another half dozen adjectives. These authors know how to tell their stories, using anecdotes, quotes, maps, summaries, links to other events, analysis, even humor. But perhaps more than any one single feature, they know how to manage a 500-800 page story with appropriate balance; they seemed to me to know their audience and when to refrain from over-cooking their story.

I did not find "Paris 1919" to be very readable, hence my two star rating. Certainly it is comprehensive. I don't feel though that the story was well told; too often I felt like I was really slogging through. Too many times I had to re-read a sentence, a paragraph, a couple of pages because my mind was wandering. I was bored; I'm happy to be done with it. Certainly it was not an easy topic to write about but I have read enough history to know that is really not an excuse.

In fairness to author Macmillan though, I must note the highly complimentary blurbs on the very first page, from many of our most respected book critics, including the NYT, WashPost, and five other major publications. I think "Paris 1919" is a great reference book. For example if one has an interest in understanding how the borders for Poland were established following WWl then "Paris 1919" is a great resource. I also note that the vast majority of Amazon reader reviews rate this book at the opposite end of the spectrum. ( )
  maneekuhi | Apr 15, 2017 |
This is a magnificent book that contains so much detail about the world at the turn of the century and following WW I that it took me a long time to read and digest it. A couple of things are left with me from my reading and that is the involvement of China and Japan. I knew Japan had a limited involvement but I did not know about the situation of the German colonies in China and how the European leaders almost completely dismissed China's rights to them.

I knew about the creation of Iraq and Syria plus the general treatment of the people of the Middle East. However I was not completely aware of how Ataturk came to power and how he created modern Turkey but MacMillan took care of that. Any student who needs information on the Treaty of Versailles just needs to acquire this volume and read the text and consult the massive bibliography.

In an interesting conclusion, MacMillan lets us know what happen to each of the main players- Clemenceau, Lloyd George and Wilson. ( )
  lamour | Dec 12, 2016 |
Many books promise you that the event they cover "changed the world" but "Paris 1919: six months that changed the world" is that rare beast that actually lives up to its claim.

In the great tradition of wars, the aftermath of the Great War saw the victors converge on Paris in 1919 to carve up the spoils. It was a cast of thousands; everyone from US President Woodrow Wilson to British PM David Lloyd George (and Winston Churchill) to Ho Chi Minh, Lawrence of Arabia and a group of Korean monks who walked all the way from Korea to Paris only to find that they had missed the conference and so walked back again.

As an Australian, it's a mixed blessing that Australian Prime Minister Billy Hughes plays a part in proceedings as well. While Hughes's offsider, former PM Joseph Cook, comes off as a complete dill, Hughes manages to annoy Wilson to distraction, tell the Japanese that they will never be the equal of the white man (in retrospect, probably not Australia's best moment on the international stage) and gain control of an awful lot of colonies through a mixture of obfuscation and flat out lying.

Just as important are the people who don't turn up. The Montenegrins are absent and they become part of Yugoslavia (against their will) and the Kurds, apparently invited, are absent and, nearly a century later they are still the world's largest ethnic group without a state to call their own.

A great read. ( )
  MiaCulpa | Oct 23, 2016 |
Very detailed account of the negotiations that followed WWI. A bit dry at times. ( )
  stevesmits | Apr 15, 2016 |
An extremely well written, well researched account of the world as it existed at the end of World War I. Like her subsequent book (The War that Ended Peace), she tries (and in my opinion succeeds) to provide the context that brought about the flawed Treaty of Versailles. While at the same time, discounting the widely held belief that the Treaty directly led to World War II (it didn't help, but Ms. MacMillan is very persuasive in arguing the Treaty didn't cause the rise of Hitler). ( )
  hhornblower | Feb 4, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
MacMillan, Margaretprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Holbrooke, RichardForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Eluned and Robert MacMillan
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For six months in 1919, Paris was the capital of the world.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Richard Holbrook wrote the foreword
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375760520, Paperback)

National Bestseller

New York Times Editors’ Choice

Winner of the PEN Hessell Tiltman Prize

Winner of the Duff Cooper Prize

Silver Medalist for the Arthur Ross Book Award
of the Council on Foreign Relations

Finalist for the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award

For six months in 1919, after the end of “the war to end all wars,” the Big Three—President Woodrow Wilson, British prime minister David Lloyd George, and French premier Georges Clemenceau—met in Paris to shape a lasting peace. In this landmark work of narrative history, Margaret MacMillan gives a dramatic and intimate view of those fateful days, which saw new political entities—Iraq, Yugoslavia, and Palestine, among them—born out of the ruins of bankrupt empires, and the borders of the modern world redrawn.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:44 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Between January and July 1919, after "the war to end all wars," men and women from around the world converged on Paris to shape the peace. Center stage was an American president, Woodrow Wilson, who with his Fourteen Points seemed to promise to so many people the fulfillment of their dreams. Stern, intransigent, impatient when it came to security concerns and idealistic in his dream of a League of Nations that would resolve all future conflict peacefully, Wilson is only one of the characters who fill the pages of this book. David Lloyd George, the British prime minister, brought Winston Churchill and John Maynard Keynes. Lawrence of Arabia joined the Arab delegation. Ho Chi Minh, a kitchen assistant at the Ritz, submitted a petition for an independent Vietnam. For six months, Paris was effectively the center of the world as the peacemakers carved up bankrupt empires and created new countries. This book brings to life the personalities, ideals, and prejudices of the men who shaped the settlement. They pushed Russia to the sidelines, alienated China, and dismissed the Arabs. They struggled with the problems of Kosovo, of the Kurds, and of a homeland for the Jews. The peacemakers, so it has been said, failed dismally; above all they failed to prevent another war. Margaret MacMillan argues that they have unfairly been made the scapegoats for the mistakes of those who came later. She refutes received ideas about the path from Versailles to World War II and debunks the widely accepted notion that reparations imposed on the Germans were in large part responsible for the Second World War.… (more)

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