On June 28, 1914, a Bosnian revolutionary assassinated the heir to the Austria-Hungary throne and set in motion a series of events that culminated in the First World War. August is the 100th anniversary of the start of this war, and several books have been published within the past couple of years commemorating the anniversary. These include Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War by Max Hastings, and The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 by Christopher Clark.
Another important book on the outbreak and early stage of the war is Barbara Tuchman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning narrative The Guns of August, which was published in 1962. Before I read this book I had thought of World War I mostly as a horrible stalemate, full of slaughter that gained neither side a real advantage. I hadn’t given much thought to what took place between the assassination of Franz Ferdinand and the start of the war. It hadn’t occurred to me that a complex series of events and movements preceded the trenches and no-man’s land that defined the war for me. Nor was I familiar with the battles in Eastern Europe, where the war began. I gained a lot from reading Tuchman’s enjoyable, fast-paced narrative.
These books show that this popular image of stalemate is only part of the story. Max Hastings points out in the introduction to his book mentioned above “It is widely supposed that the first day of the 1916 Battle of the Somme was the bloodiest day of the entire conflict. This is not so. In August 1914 the French army…fought battles utterly unlike those that came later, and at even more terrible daily cost” (Hastings, p. xvii). He estimates that in the first five months of the war 329,000 French soldiers were killed, including 27 thousand on August 22 alone (pp. xvii, 181). The other books I’ve mentioned also make similar points.
The authors also present different interpretations about the causes of the war. Was it a tragic accident or was it inevitable? Were the countries involved powerless to prevent it? Did they willingly and enthusiastically embrace the conflict? Could any country have prevented it? For instance, Christopher Clark in The Sleepwalkers argues that Europe stumbled into the conflict; Barbara Tuchman (The Guns of August) refuses to ascribe responsibility but shows that many countries were enthusiastic for war; and Max Hastings places primary responsibility squarely on one of the combatants. And how did the citizens and soldiers greet the war? Max Hastings uses letters, diaries, and journals of ordinary people to show the fear, disgust, exhilaration, boredom, enthusiasm, and disappointment elicited by the war. Barbara Tuchman focuses on the actions of military and political leaders. Christopher Clark writes in his book mentioned above “Public reaction to the news of war gave the lie to the claim, so often voiced by statesmen, that the hands of decision-makers were tied by popular opinion. There was, to be sure, no resistance to the call to arms….Underlying this readiness to serve was not enthusiasm for war as such, but a defensive patriotism…” (Clark, p. 553).
Of course, for a long time the combatants had plans for a coming war – Austria had Plans B and R, Germany had the Schlieffen Plan, France had Plan XVII, Russia had Plans G, A, and 19. And they were all determined to both get the upper hand and show that the war had been forced upon them. Had they made different decisions in response to the assassination of the Archduke, could war have been prevented or would it just have been postponed?
When I read history books I always expect to get detailed accounts of the major events. Also, I am often surprised by the small, unexpected details included. For instance, I learned from Max Hastings’s book that one of the British soldiers wounded in the early days of the war was a Private Ronald Colman. This is not surprising; soldiers come from all walks of life. But during the war, this battalion (the London Scottish Regiment) also included Basil Rathbone, Claude Rains, and Herbert Marshall (Hastings, p. 486). Imagine Foreign Correspondent, Casablanca, A Tale of Two Cities, and the Sherlock Holmes movies without these actors.
If this 100th anniversary has sparked your interest in the First World War, whether you’re interested in the grand sweep of events or the perspectives of the men and women caught up in these events, the Denton Public Library has the information you’re looking for. We have the books mentioned above and many others. We have encyclopedias and articles. We have online resources. And we have the staff to help you find them.
Since we are talking about Doctor Who… I will admit it, I am a Whovian. (It is a real word; you can find it in the Oxford English Dictionary) I have been a fan of the Series since I was a child. The first Doctor Who I remember watching was Tom Baker, the Doctor with the really long scarf. Now this was in the late 70’s early 80’s. The show’s special effects were cheesy, but that was ok because other than that it was smart, humorous, full of adventure and just downright fun to watch. But what I remember most about that Doctor Who was it was a show that my mother and I watched together, and shared the experience. Even though I was on the cusp of becoming a surly teenager it was something we enjoyed doing together.
Now some 30 odd years later I am watching the new Doctor Who with my 9 year old son. The series has been through some rocky times. (If you want to learn more the library has histories, guides and more!) It is still a little cheesy but the special effects are much better, it is still smart, humorous and downright fun to watch, and we love it. And I hope sometime in the far distant future, he will look back with fond memories of watching the show with me.
The first full episode featuring the new Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi, will premier tonight at 7 p.m. on BBC America. If you are not already a fan, this would be the perfect opportunity to start watching!
- Laura Douglas
Librarian at Emily Fowler Central Library
Diana Gabaldon’s extremely popular book, and series, has become a much-anticipated mini-series on Starz. Watching the first episode on August 9 drew me back to the first book, checking to see how accurate the dialog and story-line was. I was not disappointed. One of the things that has captured every fan’s imagination throughout the years of reading the books is what Jamie and Claire would look like. We now have faces to the characters, and they are very believable, but each person also has the picture in their mind of how they should look.
If you have seen the first episode, continue watching. Hopefully they have piqued your interest. Now is the time, however, to start reading the books. The Denton Public Library can start you on your way. Just walk through the stones.
I can’t decide if I like Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor. Granted, he was on screen for 5 seconds during the last episode, but that doesn’t decrease my scepticism. I know my judgement is unfair, so I’ve decided to take the high road and look into some of the things he has done in the past. There are many options when trying to decide if you like an actor and mine is usually to go the library catalog and look to see if I have seen anything they have been in. The only thing that came up that I knew was the last Doctor Who episode. There were other things, but I haven’t seen them. I know he has been in more than that, so I went to his Internet Movie Database (IMDB) page located here. There are many things he has been in that I have seen and that we have at the library, he just had such a minor role it didn’t show up in the library record.
The first one I came across is The Fifth Estate. It also has Benedict Cumberbatch who plays Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock. The reviews I have seen on this movie were mixed. It should be noted that the acting was never in question, but it was the content that was controversial. The movie is about the infamous WikiLeaks and the very interesting Julian Assange. It is based on a true story, but I don’t know enough about WikiLeaks to have an opinion on if it was really more on the true side or more on the made up side of storytelling.
The next movie is World War Z with Brad Pitt. Peter Capaldi played a W.H.O doctor. I vaguely remember him in this role. The story is about a man who, for some reason is important enough to be rescued during the zombie apocalypse and his family is taken to a secure location while he goes to figure out why the zombies are there and how to stop them. I hated this movie and I try to forget it ever existed. The book was AMAZING. The book is World War Z: The Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks. Every chapter is a different perspective of a survivor of the war. There are refugees, fighter pilots, regular people, generals, and anyone else you can think of. It is storytelling at it’s best. As a matter of fact, I’m not even going to post a picture of the movie, just the book.
Torchwood: Children of Earth is another show he was in. This is a spinoff of Doctor Who. Captain Jack, who is just adorable and knows it, leads his supernatural fighting team through 5 days of terror when the children of Earth all stop and start saying the same thing all at once. It’s very creepy. If you like Doctor Who and haven’t seen Torchwood, you are missing out. It’s much darker and edgier than Doctor Who. Okay, it’s not for everyone. I really like it.
The one thing I noticed is these are all serious parts. Where is the comedy? The Doctor has always had humor. Can he do comedy? Looking at the list of his acting credentials I see a few comedy things, but none that I have actually seen. One of them is Peep Show, which, of course, we have. The next is Skins. It’s more of a teen dramaty. Not funny ha ha, more funny awkward. I’m not sure if I will watch it, but the library has it, so I will most likely try it before the new season of Doctor Who starts.
I guess I should give Peter Capaldi a chance. After all, I didn’t think I would like David Tennant and I did. I didn’t think I would like Matt Smith and I did. I didn’t think I could ever like someone as much as I liked Rose. Okay, I never found anyone that I liked as a companion as much as I liked Rose, but that’s a post for another time.
WyLaina Polk is the manager of the Emily Fowler Central Library and might have a bias for one Doctor over another.
When I was a little girl, I lived in Lubbock. I went to the Mahon Library every Saturday with my father. Some of my favorite memories with him are at this library. I remember the way the books smelled and how kids would crowd around the shelves to find their favorite books. My favorite was Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. I would get the record and the book and listen to it on the library record player. We went to storytime in this large dark room with a big tree inside of it. Puppets would come out of the trunk of the tree. I thought it was magic. I remember sitting there and listening to books and the librarian would sit on a tree stump and read. After, my father and I would go to the fiction section and he would pick out some books of his own. I remember the day I got my own library card and how I thought it was so wonderful. My father kept it for me so I wouldn’t lose it. Then I would take the books home and make my father read them to me over and over again. Recently, I found a copy of the Alexander book and gave it to him for Christmas. When he opened it he groaned and asked if I was going to make him read it again. This is when I first fell in love with libraries. I loved the smell, the books, the quiet nature of the place mixed in with the controlled chaos of the storytime. I loved the way the librarian helped me and how the circulation staff smiled at us. We were important to them. They knew us. They liked us. They wanted us to come back and check out more books.
When I was a teen, I lived in a small town called Willis. The library at the time was in a house. When I entered high school, the house was torn down and we had a new building. It was wonderful. They had three computers, video cassettes, and music to check out. The librarian would let us volunteer and we would help in the summers and on breaks. When I was a senior, they hung a portrait I painted in the library. It wasn’t very good, but I remember being really proud and telling everyone my artwork was on display.
I hear people talk about the Emily Fowler Central Library the way I talk about the Mahon Library and the Willis Library. People loved the treehouse, the atrium, and most of all they love the memories those things created. We have so many opportunities to make people fall in love with our libraries. I hope you love whichever library you choose to go to as much I love the one from my memory and the one I work at now. Here are some photos from the Emily Fowler Central Library. I hope they bring back some fond memories for you.
Atrium at the Emily Fowler Central Library
Storytime with Ms. Martha
WyLaina Polk is the manager of the Emily Fowler Central Library and was always meant to be a librarian.
I love LEGO®s but I am terrible at following the instructions that come with the LEGO® kit. Then I saw this really interesting blog with LEGO® building challenges. Some of the challenges looked really fun. So, I used one of challenges in my Teen LEGO® program to see if the kids would find them as much fun as I did. (They most certainly did.)
Glasses and a Mustache
Now, it’s your turn. Take the LEGO® Challenge, build something on the theme and post it to the library’s website. Let’s see what you can do with LEGO®s!
LEGO Challenge 1: Wearable LEGO®s – build something you can wear made entirely out of LEGO® bricks.
(This challenge idea was borrowed from Legoquest.) Share your photos with us in the comments!
Stacey Irish-Keffer is a Youth Services Librarian at the Emily Fowler Central Library