Based on your post, I'm sure you've probably read it, but if not, I HIGHLY recommend "American Midnight" by Adam Hochschild. It covers the end of the war through the beginning of the 1920's and what a scary time it was! Anyone who says democracy is threatened now doesn't know how authoritarian our country was during the early 20th century.

And to the other commenter's point about not needing another documentary about war - really? Do you realize how many wars we're involved in RIGHT NOW? It's long past time for us to have a discussion about it, because I for one am sick and tired of war myself. But those who don't learn history are doomed to repeat it.

Anyhow, thank you for the wonderful post!

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Two grandparents served; it's how they met (nurse and ambulance driver, though he never met Ernest Hemingway, because it was the Canadian Army).

Papa would want me to pass along some snark to an American forum: "Oooh, 53,000? We only lost 66,000, and Canada was nearly as tenth as large! Of course, you were three years late for a four-year war."

Analysts sometimes wonder aloud why there's this odd anti-Americanism in Canada (which shows up mainly in comments, not anything concrete), and speculate that it's simple jealousy over your size and wealth. But both my grandparents, and my parents generation, came back from two wars with a certain amount of crankiness about American efforts. Basically, Canada and Britain saw 10 years of war between 1914 and 1946, America, just five. An uncle spoke bitterly of WW2, about taking casualties, going through hellish artillery duels to take an Italian town. When the Germans withdrew, the Canadians would be told, repeatedly, to encamp and watch the American unit go past them to "take" the town, with flowers thrown and newsreels cranking.

America's participation in both wars was unpopular, a real struggle for political support, and there had to be a lot of that "newsreel" stuff, nothing but tales of victory. American casualties had to be kept minimal.

Not that WW1 was entirely popular in Canada, particularly in Quebec, fighting for the hated British Crown - and even fighting for the France that had abandoned them for the last hundred years - was riots-in-the-streets unpopular by 1917. If the war had gone on into 1919, Canada probably couldn't have kept civil order about conscription.

There's no better introduction, by the way, than the amazing film "They Shall Not Grow Old".

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Until Ken Burns takes you up on this, may I recommend this excellent three-part documentary produced for "The American Experience" on PBS (2017). Directed by Stephen Ives, Amanda Pollak, Rob Rapley. Written by Stephen Ives and Rob Rapley.


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Americans don’t need another documentary glorifying war and government.

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Out of The fog of peace 1918-1922 arose the contours of much of the century that followed. Great idea.

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Fantastic idea and a really interesting article. Thank you.

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When I taught 8th grade social studies fifteen years ago, it was very difficult to find supplementary materials on WWI. Now I think I understand why. The only movie I could use was *Sgt. York,* to give them any sense of the era. I hope Ken Burns does make a documentary and that he includes Nurse Edith Cavell. I read her biography when I was in 8th grade (about a million years ago) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edith_Cavell

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Dan, thanks for continuing to engage, though at this point I think we may just be debating our separate and individual perceptions. My initial comment was not meant to indict you, or to define what you meant by what you wrote (or what Burns means in his works). Instead I was responding based on my reading and viewing. I am stridently anti-war, and sensitive to accountings that focus on emotional and tragic stories while supporting the thesis (even if by omission) that “war is horrible, but we had to do it and the world is better off for it”, which I think tends to be the case with Burns’ related works (I have viewed and read much of his output on war and other topics, and I do own the companion book to his Vietnamese documentary.) I appreciate Burns’ attempts at balance, but I don’t think the traditional kind of “victor’s balance” or “just warrior” framing is warranted or useful.

As to the comments in your article about the requirements of globalism, “America’s place in the world”, “books portraying the war as a colossal mistake *foisted* on the American people”, and “acts which would be major barriers in Franklin Roosevelt’s *effort to help Britain* when it went to war with Nazi Germany” I am left perceiving an implicit acknowledgement that every war you allude to was tragic but necessary. Perhaps I totally misread you, but if that’s the case you could you have led with “I’m totally antiwar, sorry if that wasn’t clear.” :)

Anyway, no need to take up more of our time with this. And if you feel this thread is distracting to the intent of your article feel free to delete the comments (if that’s possible in substack). My intent is not to hijack your point or to change minds, it’s to clarify and to resonate with like minds.

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