Monday, October 2, 2023

1914 - Luciano Canfora

This is a brief essay about the sequence of events that, over the course of a few weeks, triggered what has come to be known as The Great War or World War I. The year is 1914. Europe has enjoyed almost fifty year of peace, marked by economic growth, scientific and technological progress and social reforms. There still are some unresolved issues, neglected tensions and unsatiated appetites in the air though, and the situation will come to a critical point in the summer of that year.As per the official version the war starts when the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austrian Empire, is assassinated in Sarajevo by a young Serb activist, Gavrilo Princip. Austria will declare war on Serbia and a complex network of alliances, pacts and mutual interests will turn a regional conflict into a continental and eventually a global one.
However Luciano Canfora, like most of his contemporary colleagues, is convinced that the real reasons for this huge catastrophe are to be searched among the targets of the various states and empires of the time, in terms of land, natural resources, low cost labor and transport routes, especially in the area occupied by the quickly decaying Ottoman empire - in the Balkans and the Middle East -, in the African continent and later on in the Far East and the Pacific Ocean.
Being a linguistics expert, Canfora also looks at the impact that the propaganda carried out by politicians, activists and the media exerted on the public opinion and on those who finally took the fateful decisions.
A very interesting and enjoyable read.

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