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C O U R S E 
A History of the World since 1300
Jeremy Adelman, Princeton University
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
The First World War
Notes taken on April 4, 2018 by Edward Tanguay
August 1914
didn't destroy a world that was at its apex of civilization, but rather an arrangement that was already
in trouble
beset by anxieties
plagued by rivalries between regimes
plunged into the first truly global war in a century
since the Napoleonic Wars into Russia and Egypt
war went global for one fundamental reason
1. it was a war between global empires
2. a war of mass societies
already organizations that implied that entire societies were going to be inducted into war, i.e. total war
will have to mobilize riches from their colonies as well as from citizens at home
the old world regimes would have to harness energy from new world resources
sparked by a conflict in the Balkans
where the struggles were most intense between rival European and Middle Eastern powers
Hapsburg vs. Ottoman empire
an archaic confrontation
it was caused by ramped up imperial rivalry
free-trade empires locked in rivalries with each other
put more resources into defense structures
spiraling upwards as fiscal military states
the gap between expectations and what happened
that people would see some initial decisive victory on the battlefield and that the war would be over by Christmas
with mass communications being used, jingoism was whipped up to high levels
combatants: 65 million
Russia: 15 million
Germany: 10.6 million
France: 8 million
Britain: 5.25 million
it turned out to be a long, protracted war for three reasons
1. the balance of forces were remarkably even
had not calculated that the interlocking mechanism made quite equal adversaries
by 1917 the war efforts had grounded to a stand still
2. the nature of war had changed
the old universe of calvary men clashing with each other, artilleries supporting set-piece battles from behind the lines leading to a one or two day battle that would end with victory for one side or the other
what the combatants discovered was that heavy investment in military could halt even the most powerful army
led to industrial-scale killing
advent of barbed wire
introduction of machine gunning
the introduction of chemical weapons
armies could get stopped or mowed down in the process of their attacks
there was no more gentlemanly hand-to-hand combat
one doesn't even see one's adversary
3. the targeting of non-combatants
1915 the sinking of the British Lusitania by a German submarine
1915 Zeppelin bombing raids of London
total war meant total destruction
9 million casualties
vast resources were being spent to choke economies
submarines became a routine practice
one reason the entry of the U.S. was significant was that it helped to form a more effective blockade of Axis powers
all countries had problems with scarcities and inflation
economic warfare was a financial war
the country that had the most difficulties funding its war efforts was Russia