The Great Class War 1914-1918

Jacques R. Pauwels

Far from an accident of history, the First World War was a long sought-after event welcomed by European elites as a check against democratization and socialist reforms — but the war had far-reaching and unexpected consequences.
Date Published :
April 2016
Publisher :
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781459411050
Pages : 632
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock


Historian Jacques Pauwels applies a critical, revisionist lens to the First World War, offering readers a fresh interpretation that challenges mainstream thinking. As Pauwels sees it, war offered benefits to everyone, across class and national borders.

For European statesmen, a large-scale war could give their countries new colonial territories, important to growing capitalist economies. For the wealthy and ruling classes, war served as an antidote to social revolution, encouraging workers to exchange socialism's focus on international solidarity for nationalism's intense militarism. And for the working classes themselves, war provided an outlet for years of systemic militarization -- quite simply, they were hardwired to pick up arms, and to do so eagerly.

To Pauwels, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in June 1914 -- traditionally upheld by historians as the spark that lit the powder keg -- was not a sufficient cause for war but rather a pretext seized upon by European powers to unleash the kind of war they had desired. But what Europe's elite did not expect or predict was some of the war's outcomes: social revolution and Communist Party rule in Russia, plus a wave of political and social democratic reforms in Western Europe that would have far-reaching consequences.

Reflecting his broad research in the voluminous recent literature about the First World War by historians in the leading countries involved in the conflict, Jacques Pauwels has produced an account that challenges readers to rethink their understanding of this key event of twentieth century world history.

About The Author

JACQUES R. PAUWELS has taught European history at the University of Toronto, York University and the University of Waterloo. He is the author of The Great Class War 1914-1918, a revisionist history of that conflict, and The Myth of the Good War, in which he provides a revisionist look at the role of the United States and other Allied countries in the Second World War. An independent scholar, Pauwels holds Ph.D.s in history and political science. He lives in Brantford, Ontario.


"An eloquent synthesis of evidence. Readers of this masterful book will recognize the extent to which so much of the literature on World War One, with its focus on secret treaties, bumbling diplomacy, inept military leaders, and particular battles simply obscures the fundamental character of the war and its differential impacts on various groups of people."

- Alvin Finkel, Professor Emeritus at Athabasca University and author of Our Lives: Canada after 1945, and Social Policy and Practice in Canada: A History

"With this engagingly written account, Jacques Pauwels delivers a popular counter-history of the conflict whose dissenting verve seems long overdue."

- Geoffrey Eley, Karl Pohrt Distinguished University Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

"Pauwels takes an alternative view of the causes of WW1 and the social and political upheavals that followed as a result of the conflict. Fascinating."

- Books Monthly

More from this publisher