The Perse School

Making peace with the Great War – a lecture by Professor David Reynolds

4 Dec 2015

David Reynolds, Professor of International History and a Fellow of Christ’s College, Cambridge gave a fascinating and thought-provoking talk on ‘Making Peace with the Great War: Centenary Reflections’ as part of the School’s 400th anniversary lecture Series. Based on some of the topics explored in his recent book, The Long Shadow, which was awarded the 2014 Hessell-Tiltman Prize, Professor Reynolds asked why, in Britain, we remember the First World War in a different way to our European counterparts and why our perception has been skewed by involvement in the Second World War, by war poets such as Wilfred Owen, and by the high death tolls that have helped perpetuate the view that the Great War was one of folly and tragedy.

Professor Reynolds argued persuasively that we should view World War One not simply as a futile bloodbath and a Pyrrhic victory, but rather develop a more sophisticated understanding of how the War impacted Britain and Europe. The first step to achieving this, as Professor Reynolds suggested, is to “shift our view of the Great War out of the trenches” and move beyond our popular perspective of mud, trenches, antiwar poets and wasted lives.

For details of upcoming 400th anniversary community lectures please see our 400th anniversary events. Our lecture series is delivered with the support of the Cambridge News.

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