The Great War

As I started to ten-part series The First World War: A Complete History, it dawned on me that this is exactly to kind of program  that my dad loved. He read books about history, watched movies – anything he could get his hands on. Those moments when you realize how similar you are to a parent can be cool or scary – depending on the similarity. The love for historical information I share with my father I consider very cool.

With no father around and being the eldest of nine (9) brothers and sisters, my father left school after the eighth grade. Despite his lack of formal education, he was one of the smartest men I’ve ever met – not in a “my dad is the greatest” way but in a real depth of understanding about the world, people and yes, history.  You can see why this realization that I share a love for learning is something that makes me happy.

Okay, my family history aside – what about this 2003 BBC series?

Well I happened across it on Amazon Prime and was hooked just a few minutes in. My generation grew up on stories, movies and TV depicting World War II but not much on WWI.

I was fascinated to learn many things new – such as the strained relationships that existed throughout the Balkans prior to the spark in Sarejevo that set off the powder keg.

Did you know that the Germans rounded up the French in concentration camps and used them for slave labor? You knew it about WWII when the Nazi party did it but it really isn’t mentioned in The Great War.

Did you know that the Germans also started the war in the Middle East and Africa only as a diversion of the British? With her colonies across the globe, England would be forced to defend those and give the Kaiser’s European forces a better chance at their real goal. This move is what took it from a European conflict to a true world war. The crazy side-effect is the strengthening of the Islamic forces throughout the Middle East. Sound familiar?

Yes, the Germans attempted to incite a jihad against the British to capture India. They pumped countless money in Afghanistan with this goal but didn’t realize the Brits were paying more. Both were attempting to use the Muslims as pawns and both were being played.

All this is in the first couple of episodes. Rather than retell the entire war here, let me say this is a really good series. If you enjoy history and want a much deeper understanding of this war, don’t hesitate to start binge watching watching this one.

by Chris Doelle