Thursday, March 8, 2012

Book Review and Interview: “The Lost History of 1914″ — Almost the War That Wasn’t

Short Fuse Book Review and Interview: “The Lost History of 1914 — Almost the War That Wasn’t

Originally appeared in the 3/8/12

Jack Beatty, The Lost History of 1914: The Year the Great War Began, Walker & Company, 392 pages, $30.00

For Jack Beatty, born in the last year of World War II, World War I was, far more than for most Boomers, a family story. Beatty was "raised on tales" of his father's service in the First World War. The elder Beatty survived a German submarine attack on the U.S.S. Mt. Vernon — we see him and other survivors in a photographic front piece to the book — and having declined the disability compensation that was his due, later, during the Great Depression, when compelled to bed down in his car outside WPA work sites, cursed "himself for a fool for passing up the money."

Beatty is author of The Rascal King: The Life and Times of James Michael Curley, 1874-1958, among other books. He's a senior editor at Atlantic Monthly and a longtime analyst for NPR's On Point. Those who know him from the radio venue will not find great disparity between the passion of the spoken and the written voice, except to the degree that on the page he can allow for more scope and complexity.