The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 84, July 1980 - April, 1981

Book Reviews

over, a striking candor about American frustrations and failures.
NASA's official sponsorship of the two histories should not cause read-
ers to assume that they follow any kind of "official" NASA line. That is
far from the case.
Ohio University CHARLES C. ALEXANDER
A Pictorial History of the World War I Years. By Edward Jablonski.
(Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, 1979- Pp. 317.
Illustrations, maps, index. $14.95.)
Beyond its purely military implications, the First World War had
important consequences for the domestic societies of the nations that
took part in the fighting. In Texas, for example, the war accelerated
the progress of such important social reforms as prohibition and
woman suffrage, and it revived briefly the waning energies of the pro-
gressive impulse of the state. This broader context for the study of
wars in the twentieth century is absent from Edward Jablonski's pho-
tographic history of the Great War. The narrative he provides focuses
on diplomatic and military action, and is very conventional in its judg-
ments. Readers should not expect the provocative prose of A. J. P.
Taylor or the professional reliability of Frank B. Friedel, both of
whom had earlier provided similar volumes.
The illustrations themselves are not arranged with much insight or
imagination. It is a testament to the impact of the World War I con-
flict on historical memory that this drawback does not matter. Seeing
the faces of men in the trenches, the ravaged battlefields, and the
propaganda posters recalls again the images of this carnage. The hor-
rors of the Western Front can be evoked with only a glance at the mud
of the Somme or the devastation of the French countryside. There is
little in Jablonski's book to lift it above the comparable pictorial com-
pilations that have come out on the wars of modern times. These vol-
umes appear to fill a popular need to mask historical tragedy with
romanticism and nostalgia. Safely captured on the page, photographs
only suggest the agony through which the world passed after 1914.
Books such as A Pictorial History of the World War I Years may intro-
duce young people and the general public to the complexities of this
pivotal event of modern times. For a more subtle and satisfying analy-
sis they can then pass on to the works of Paul Fussell, L. Patrick Devlin,
Arthur S. Link, and Correlli Barnett. In that reading they will come
to realize why Woodrow Wilson, taking the United States into the

117

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 84, July 1980 - April, 1981. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101225/. Accessed November 26, 2014.