Six Months that
Changed the World

Margaret MacMillan
(Random House)
Go out and get this one if you are interested in --- for a change --- a historian who, unlike the most of them, knows how to put sentences together, who can write with wit, leisure, and coherence, and who obviously loves her subject.

You'll find here much of what you would want to know about:

  • World War I;
  • The origins of World War II;
  • Why the Russians (in general) detested England, France, and the United States between 1919 and 1990;
  • 20th Century American politics;
  • 20th Century American foreign policy;
  • The psychology of Woodrow Wilson;
  • The psychology of Mrs. Woodrow Wilson;
  • The immense wit (and caginess) of Georges Clemenceau;
  • The caginess (and stolidness) of Lloyd George;
  • The absurd decisions made at Versailles, 1919;
  • The not-so-absurd decisions made at Versailles, 1919;
  • What Ho Chi Minh was doing in Paris, 1919;
  • What Syngman Rhee was doing in Paris, 1919;
  • "The House of 1,000 Teats;"
  • What Clemenceau said after a would-be assassin shot at him six times;
  • The unstoppable sexiness of Queen Marie of Rumania (except when she tried to cosy up to Woodrow Wilson);
  • Why a peace treaty constructed six months after a war's end is less successful than one done at once;
  • What Clemenceau said about the ladies' buttocks in Renoir's paintings;
  • What the Chinese said after a ten hour dinner given for the delegates at the Paris Peace Conference.

Paris 1919 is one of the best general interest books of historical fact and whimsy. It covers one short period, and is filled to the brim with the weird and waggish people who participated in one of the strangest gatherings of all times. This is historical writing equal to Barbara Tuchman at her best. If we did stars here at RALPH, we'd hand this one a

out of a possible
--- Lolita Lark


Go to a reading from the book