Road Less Traveled : The Secret Battle to End the Great War, 1916-1917
by Zelikow, Philip







Introduction Two Roads Diverged1(16)
Chapter 1 Wilson Makes a New Peace Move
17(31)
Chapter 2 The British Are Tempted
48(33)
Chapter 3 The Germans Secretly Seek a Compromise Peace
81(26)
Chapter 4 The British Debate Reaches Breaking Point
107(30)
Chapter 5 How to End a Great War
137(16)
Chapter 6 "Peace Is on the Floor Waiting to Be Picked Up!"
153(27)
Chapter 7 What Is Wilson Trying to Do?
180(31)
Chapter 8 Peace Without Victory?
211(22)
Chapter 9 Roads Not Taken
233(28)
Epilogue And That Has Made All the Difference261(22)
Acknowledgments283(2)
Notes285(36)
Index321


"During a pivotal few months in the middle of the First World War all sides-Germany, Britain, and America-believed the war could be concluded. Peace at the end of 1916 would have saved millions of lives and changed the course of history utterly. Two years into the most terrible conflict the world had ever known, the warring powers faced a crisis. There were no good military options. Money, men, and supplies were running short on all sides. The German chancellor secretly sought President Woodrow Wilson's mediation to end the war, just as British ministers and France's president also concluded that the time was right. The Road Less Traveled describes how tantalizingly close these far-sighted statesmen came to ending the war, saving millions of lives, and avoiding the total war that dimmed hopes for a better world. Theirs was a secret battle that is only now becoming fully understood, a story of civic courage, awful responsibility, and how some leaders rose to the occasion while others shrank from it or chased other ambitions. "Peace is on the floor waiting to be picked up!" pleaded the German ambassador to the United States. This book explains both the strategies and fumbles of people facing a great crossroads of history. The Road Less Traveled reveals oneof the last great mysteries of the Great War: that it simply never should have lasted so long or cost so much"-





Phillip Zelikow is the White Burkett Miller Professor of History and J. Wilson Newman Professor of Governance at the Miller Center of Public Affairs, both at the University of Virginia. A former career diplomat, he was the executive director of the 9/11 Commission. He worked on international policy in each of the five administrations from Reagan through Obama.
 

Philip Zelikow lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.

 





World War l could have ended in 1916 with a serious secret effort by Germany to arrange a compromise peace. Initiated by the chancellor, Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg, who was appalled by the war's colossal casualties and feared domestic revolution if it continued, extension of the olive branch began with an August message conveyed by the ambassador to America, Johann von Bernstorff, requesting President Wilson's mediation and conceding what Germany expected would be Britain and France's minimal condition: evacuation of Belgium and France. Examining the diplomatic exchanges this move provoked and the players in Berlin, Washington, and London who debated them, Zelikow ably dramatizes their thoughts and actions. A crucial figure was Edward House, a private citizen who was Wilson's conduit to Bernstorff and the British cabinet. Neither House nor Wilson realized what financial leverage they had over Britain's war situation, and Wilson never pressed the Allies to negotiate. Equally dismissive was Germany's military leadership. Despite the immense literature about World War I, there is, Zelikow attests, no history until now about this tragic impasse, making this supremely well-written work essential. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.





World War l could have ended in 1916 with a serious secret effort by Germany to arrange a compromise peace. Initiated by the chancellor, Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg, who was appalled by the war's colossal casualties and feared domestic revolution if it continued, extension of the olive branch began with an August message conveyed by the ambassador to America, Johann von Bernstorff, requesting President Wilson's mediation and conceding what Germany expected would be Britain and France's minimal condition: evacuation of Belgium and France. Examining the diplomatic exchanges this move provoked and the players in Berlin, Washington, and London who debated them, Zelikow ably dramatizes their thoughts and actions. A crucial figure was Edward House, a private citizen who was Wilson's conduit to Bernstorff and the British cabinet. Neither House nor Wilson realized what financial leverage they had over Britain's war situation, and Wilson never pressed the Allies to negotiate. Equally dismissive was Germany's military leadership. Despite the immense literature about World War I, there is, Zelikow attests, no history until now about this tragic impasse, making this supremely well-written work essential. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.





An expert but disturbing account of a noble diplomatic failure. Zelikow, who served as a diplomat for every presidential administration from Reagan to Obama, shines fresh light on a major historical crossroads. He shows how, had the war ended in 1916, it was possible that the 20th century would have proceeded without communist Russia or Nazi Germany. A mostly successful politician, Woodrow Wilson‚??s efforts were hobbled by an incompetent State Department and ignorance of diplomacy. His foreign policy advice came mostly from his friend Edward "Colonel" House, a wealthy Texan who traveled widely and, unlike Wilson, got along with everyone. With the fighting stalemated, Wilson sent House to Europe to propose peace. Neither side wanted to offend the U.S., and while most sought to end the fighting, no one dared commit publicly. Wilson was encouraged to schedule a conference, but he never demanded it. Zelikow is convincing in his disagreement with numerous historians who maintain that negotiations were impossible because neither side would compromise. In reality, powerful British leaders and the German chancellor took the idea seriously. Zelikow‚??s skillful account of the following year makes for frustrating reading: Wilson could have forced a conference but didn‚??t. In November 1916, when a financially exhausted Britain proposed selling bonds without collateral in America, Wilson vetoed it, producing panic. One British official, remarked, "If Wilson desired to put a stop to the war‚?¶such an achievement is in his power." On Jan. 22, 1917, Wilson delivered his famous "peace without victory" speech. Though the reaction from the press was "overwhelmingly positive," it consisted of high-sounding platitudes lacking action items. Readers may be surprised to learn that Germany‚??s Jan. 31 note announcing unrestricted submarine warfare also included a summary of peace terms, urging Wilson‚??s action. Offended by the first note, Wilson broke off relations, a decision the author believes was ill-advised. In the two months before America declared war, Wilson continued to muse about achieving peace, but the chance for negotiation with Germany had passed. Outstanding revisionist history demonstrating what could have been a far more peaceful 20th century. Copyright Kirkus 2020 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.






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