“So gorgeous was the spectacle on the May morning of 1910 when nine kings rode in the funeral of Edward VII of England that the crowd, waiting in hushed and black-clad awe, could not keep back gasps of admiration. In scarlet and blue and green and purple, three by three the sovereigns rode through the palace gates, with plumed helmets, gold braid, crimson sashes, and jeweled orders flashing in the sun. After them came five heirs apparent, forty more imperial or royal highnesses, seven queens - four dowager and three regnant - and a scattering of special ambassadors from uncrowned countries. Together they represented seventy nations in the greatest assemblage of royalty and rank ever gathered in one place and, of its kind, the last. The muffled tongue of Big Ben tolled nine by the clock as the cortege left the palace, but on history's clock it was sunset, and the sun of the old world was setting in a dying blaze of splendor never to be seen again.”
“Nothing so comforts the military mind as the maxim of a great but dead general.”
“The muffled tongue of Big Ben tolled nine by the clock as the cortege left the palace, but on history's clock it was sunset, and the sun of the old world was setting in a dying blaze of splendor never to be seen again.”
“Honor wears different coats to different eyes.”
“in the midst of war and crisis nothing is as clear or as certain as it appears in hindsight”
“Human beings, like plans, prove fallible in the presence of those ingredients that are missing in maneuvers - danger, death, and live ammunition.”
“Arguments can always be found to turn desire into policy.”
“Of the two classes of Prussian officer, the bull-necked and the wasp-waisted, he belonged to the second. Monocled and effete in appearance, cold and distant in manner, he concentrated with such single-mindedness on his profession that when an aide, at the end of an all-night staff ride in East Prussia, pointed out to him the beauty of the river Pregel sparkling in the rising sun, the General gave a brief, hard look and replied, 'An unimportant obstacle.”
“One constant among the elements of 1914—as of any era—was the disposition of everyone on all sides not to prepare for the harder alternative, not to act upon what they suspected to be true.”
“When at last it was over, the war had many diverse results and one dominant one transcending all others: disillusion.”
“No less a bold and pugnacious figure than Winston Churchill broke down and was unable to finish his remarks at the sendoff of the British Expeditionary Force into the maelstrom of World War I in Europe.”
“Belgium, where there occurred one of the rare appearances of the hero in history, was lifted above herself by the uncomplicated conscience of her King and, faced with the choice to acquiesce or resist, took less than three hours to make her decision, knowing it might be mortal.”
“It was a “severe” disappointment to Henry Wilson who laid it all at the door of Kitchener and the Cabinet for having sent only four divisions instead of six. Had all six been present, he said with that marvelous incapacity to admit error that was to make him ultimately a Field Marshal, “this retreat would have been an advance and defeat would have been a victory.”
“Although the defects of the Russian Army were notorious, although the Russian winter, not the Russian Army, had turned Napoleon back from Moscow, although it had been defeated on its own soil by the French and British in the Crimea, although the Turks in 1877 had outfought it at the siege of Plevna and only succumbed later to overwhelming numbers, although the Japanese had outfought it in Manchuria, a myth of its invincibility prevailed.”
“Fateful moments tend to evoke grandeur of speech, especially in French.”
“What is it about this book—essentially a military history of the first month of the First World War—which gives it its stamp and has created its enormous reputation? Four qualities stand out: a wealth of vivid detail which keeps the reader immersed in events, almost as an eyewitness; a prose style which is transparently clear, intelligent, controlled and witty; a cool detachment of moral judgment—Mrs. Tuchman is never preachy or reproachful; she draws on skepticism, not cynicism, leaving the reader not so much outraged by human villainy as amused and saddened by human folly. These first three qualities are present in all of Barbara Tuchman’s work, but in The Guns of August there is a fourth which makes the book, once taken up, almost impossible to set aside. Remarkably, she persuades the reader to suspend any foreknowledge of what is about to happen.”
“Thereafter the red edges of war spread over another half of the world. Turkey’s neighbors, Bulgaria, Rumania, Italy, and Greece, were eventually drawn in. Thereafter, with her exit to the Mediterranean closed, Russia was left dependent on Archangel, icebound half the year, and on Vladivostok, 8,000 miles from the battlefront. With the Black Sea closed, her exports dropped by 98 per cent and her imports by 95 per cent. The cutting off of Russia with all its consequences, the vain and sanguinary tragedy of Gallipoli, the diversion of Allied strength in the campaigns of Mesopotamia, Suez, and Palestine, the ultimate breakup of the Ottoman Empire, the subsequent history of the Middle East, followed from the voyage of the Goeben.”
“To be right and overruled is not forgiven to persons in responsible positions, and Michel duly paid for his clairvoyance.”
“They were twelve days in which world history wavered between two courses and the Germans came so close to victory that they reached out and touched it between the Aisne and the Marne.”
“SOME DAMNED FOOLISH THING in the Balkans,” Bismarck had predicted, would ignite the next war. The assassination of the Austrian heir apparent, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, by Serbian nationalists on June 28, 1914, satisfied his condition.”
“Clausewitz, a dead Prussian, and Norman Angell, a living if misunderstood professor, had combined to fasten the short-war concept upon the European mind. Quick, decisive victory was the German orthodoxy;”
“Character is fate, the Greeks believed. A hundred years of German philosophy went into the making of this decision in which the seed of self-destruction lay embedded, waiting for its hour. The voice was Schlieffen’s, but the hand was the hand of Fichte who saw the German people chosen by Providence to occupy the supreme place in the history of the universe, of Hegel who saw them leading the world to a glorious destiny of compulsory Kultur, of Nietzsche who told them that Supermen were above ordinary controls, of Treitschke who set the increase of power as the highest moral duty of the state, of the whole German people, who called their temporal ruler the “All-Highest.” What made the Schlieffen plan was not Clausewitz and the Battle of Cannae, but the body of accumulated egoism which suckled the German people and created a nation fed on “the desperate delusion of the will that deems itself absolute.” The”
“German soldiers, posted as informers, were found dressed as peasants, even as peasant women. The latter were discovered, presumably in the course of non-military action, by their government issued underwear; but many were probably never caught, it being impossible, General Gourko regretfully admitted, to lift the skirts of every female in East Prussia.”
“The impetus of existing plans is always stronger than the impulse to change. The Kaiser could not change Moltke’s plan nor could Kitchener alter Henry Wilson’s nor Lanrezac alter Joffre’s.”
“If it was not intended as a veto, then it must have been intended for commanders to interpret as they saw fit, which brings the matter to that melting point of warfare—the temperament of the individual commander.
When the moment of live ammunition approaches, the moment to which all his professional training has been directed, when the lives of men under him, the issue of the combat, even the fate of a campaign may depend upon his decision at a given moment, what happens inside the heart and vitals of a commander? Some are made bold by the moment, some irresolute, some carefully judicious, some paralyzed and powerless to act.”
“the Home Secretary, a young man of thirty-seven, impossible to ignore, who, from his inappropriate post, had pelted the Prime Minister during the crisis with ideas on naval and military strategy, all of them quite sound, had produced an astonishingly accurate prediction of the future course of the fighting, and who had no doubts whatever about what needed to be done. The Home Secretary was Winston Churchill.”
“Now according to German logic, a declaration of war was found to be unnecessary because of imaginary bombings”
“Eventually the United States became the latter arsenal and bank of the allies, and acquired a direct interest in allied victory that was to bemuse the post war apostles of economic determinism for a long time.”
“Believing themselves superior in soul, in strength, in energy, industry, and national virtue, Germans felt they deserved the dominion of Europe.”
“To think meant to give room for freedom of initiative, for the imponderable to win over the material, for will to demonstrate its power over circumstance.”
“But mainly, he hates that he didn’t get there in time to save you.”
… “He did save me.” My voice sounds inept.
Jack shakes his head, gently. “No love, not in the way he wishes.”
“Stress level: extreme. It's like she was a jar with the lid screwed on too tight, and inside the jar were pickles, angry pickles, and they were fermenting, and about to explode.”
“The silence is the worst part of any fight, because it's made up of all the things we wish we could say, if only we had the guts.”
“Jesus Christ did not set a limit for Himself, neither did He follow all His own maxims to the letter. The Holy Spirit ever inspired His holy soul and, being entirely abandoned to its every breath, it had no need to consult the moment that had passed, to know how to act in that which was coming. The breath of grace shaped every moment according to the eternal truths subsisting in the invisible and unfathomable wisdom of the Blessed Trinity. The soul of Jesus Christ received these directions at every moment, and acted upon them externally. The Gospel shows in the life of Jesus Christ a succession of these truths; and this same Jesus who lives and works always, continues to live and work in the souls of His saints. If you would live according to the Gospel, abandon yourself simply and entirely to the action of God. Jesus Christ is its supreme mouthpiece. “He was yesterday, is to-day, and will be for ever.” (Hebr. xiii, 8); continuing, not recommencing His life. What He has done is finished; what remains to be done is being carried on at every moment. Each saint receives a share in this divine life, and in each, Jesus Christ is different, although the same in Himself. The life of each saint is the life of Jesus Christ; it is a new gospel. The cheeks of the spouse are compared to beds of flowers, to gardens filled with fragrant blossoms. The divine action is the gardener, admirably arranging the flower beds. This garden resembles no other, for among all the flowers there are no two alike, or that can be described as being of the same species, except in the fidelity with which they respond to the action of the Creator, in leaving Him free to do as He pleases, and, on their side, obeying the laws imposed on them by their nature. Let God act, and let us do what He requires of us; this is the Gospel; this is the general Scripture, and the common law.”
“I had never seen her wearing lipstick, but knew better than to say so in case she did that mysterious alchemy some girls do and transformed the comment into my accusing her of having gained weight.”
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