It’s thrillingly mad that something as hugely history-******g as WWI began with the inept, jittery shooting of a single, sleepy-looking man in a car. Really. If you like sci-fi, you’re going to love history.
When I realized Nick Welsh was going to explicate the macabre facts and still-metastasizing outcomes of the Great War, my heart skipped. His writing is just a gushing font of champagne, issue after issue. When he lavishes his inimitable style on something as already nitrogen-rich as the WWI accident, he just flies on gossamer. Thanks for the jazzy explication of this otherwise morose subject, Nick.
That dumb war arguably spawned more global, ongoing privation than any before it — the redrawn maps (in the immediate aftermath and later), the “police action” badge it conferred future knuckleheads, the steak tartar tossed to the colonial impulse, the Sartre and Che! T-shirt plagues. If Princip had missed, it all would have been the same. When power-stoned, swaggering lamebrains take umbrage, they will always swat at each other — with the rest of us.
Thinking readers in S.B. are very, very lucky to have Nick Welsh to colorize this stuff while our schools, with few exceptions, turn even the most thrilling history into porridge or, worse; homework. Whatever the subject, Welsh’s writing puts him in the company of our best and most warming modern polemicists — Wolcott, Hitchens, O’Rourke, et al.