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Truly, Madly, Trixie


Tuesday, July 15, 2014
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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.

Comments

Independent Discussion Guidelines

I agree, Fact is stranger than Fiction...

dou4now (anonymous profile)
July 15, 2014 at 5:41 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Ditto!

dolphinpod14 (anonymous profile)
July 15, 2014 at 5:58 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Hey, Nick did a pretty good job tying it into Goleta's growth from the good land to Hughes etc. making drone guidance and missile systems...and Nick got the fall of 4 empires...
You're having fun making jests at Nick's expense, Jeff, but W W I is a truly complex, difficult, and compelling topic. History can be totally boring, so Mr Welsh tried successfully to dress it up. Well do I remember Prof. Joachim Remak's spellbinding lectures at UCSB many decades ago.
My two favorite recent HISTORY books on crucial W W I are The Sleepwalkers: how Europe Went to War in 1914 by Christopher Clark and
Max Hastings's Europe Goes to War 1914
And then there's McCaslin's Voices piece NOTHING NEW IN THE WEST which somehow engendered 137 comments, many wildly off topic...see http://www.independent.com/news/2014/...

DavyBrown (anonymous profile)
July 15, 2014 at 7:46 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I'm one of the geeks who finds history fascinating, and admires Howard Hughes!

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 15, 2014 at 8:06 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I've often thought that SB is lucky to have Nick Welsh's mind. Maybe it's a good match. He won't be going nation-wide (Peoria?). Pearls before generals!

atomic_state (anonymous profile)
July 15, 2014 at 5:22 p.m. (Suggest removal)

and swine running off cliffs before Jesus

DrDan (anonymous profile)
July 15, 2014 at 8:39 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Almost one hundred years later and the Middle East is still suffering from the aftermath of WWI and Sykes-Picot

One could make a case that WWI impacts us more today than WWII. Of course there's that pesky atomic genie that got let out of the bottle ...

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
July 16, 2014 at 9:50 a.m. (Suggest removal)

One could also make the case that the Saudi capture of Mecca in 1924 and the destruction of Shia shrines there is the major cause of the current Sunni / Shia conflict in the Middle East.

Herschel_Greenspan (anonymous profile)
July 16, 2014 at 10:19 a.m. (Suggest removal)

You can't suffer for nearly 100 years without your own permission. Stop blaming Sykes-Picot. Blame today's players who have not made a better case for iridentism, peace and stability.

JarvisJarvis (anonymous profile)
July 16, 2014 at 12:22 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Not sure where I appear to be having fun at Nick’s expense, Davy Brown. I meant everything I said (wrote); Welsh is every bit as potent and gifted a chronicler/pundit/necessary thorn as those other peeps I cited. And if you think I was jesting about history being thrilling, I wasn’t! I disagree that history can be ‘totally boring’, though we’re inadvertently conditioned to believe it is. Where it is ‘boring’ it is being ineptly conveyed. I will check out the books you mention, too. Davy?

jwing (anonymous profile)
July 17, 2014 at 12:47 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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