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July 2014


28 July 1914: The First Day of the War to End all Wars

Trooper Bisdee and unidentified family members

Join the discussion this month about #warread. We will be focusing on all things about war in this discussion (and it will be great to see what ideas people include).

On 28 July 1914 the world found itself at war. The century leading up to the outbreak of war was a complicated one based upon numerous (and changing) alliances. Superimposed upon such alliances was an arms race that saw a competition for land-based, as well as sea-based, military supremacy. Tensions between the various powers of Europe escalated and, on 28 June 1914, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, was assassinated. The Archduke’s wife was also killed. The crisis that followed saw Austria-Hungary declare war on Serbia on 28 July 1914. Soon after the Russian Empire mobilised, quickly followed by the mobilisation of the German Empire. On 2 August 1914 Germany invaded Belgium that resulted in the mobilisation of France and, two days later, the mobilisation of Britain.

Thousands of volumes and reels of footage have been dedicated to covering the history of the Great War, what – when World War II started in 1939 – would also be known as World War I. These books and films explore numerous aspects of the war such as social change, the rise of the suffragettes and the effects of war upon the combatants (read: Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks, Parade’s End by Ford Maddox Ford and All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque; watch: Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey) in addition to the numerous historical accounts of the ‘War to End All Wars’ (read: The Great War by Les Carlyon and Poems of the Great War; play: with Games and Puzzles from the Imperial War Museum).

Numerous wars have been fought, before and since World War I, all of which have been documented: the First and Second Anglo-Boer Wars (read: The Boer War by Tabitha Jackson; watch: Breaker Morant) World War II (read: Kokoda by Peter FitzSimons; watch: The Dam Busters), the Korean War (read: The Korean War by Peter Lowe; watch: the long-running television series M*A*S*H) and the Vietnam War (read: The Vietnam War by Paul Dowswell; watch: Apocalypse Now and Platoon) as well as multiple wars in Afghanistan and Sudan among many other conflicts across history and around the world (read: war letters and war diaries; watch: the film collection at the Australian War Memorial; play: with Models and Figurines from the Australian War Memorial or play: war games including Assassin’s Creed, Battleship and Halo or play: We’ll Meet Again sung by Vera Lynn). As well as wars between nations there have also been many civil wars (read: The Spanish Civil War by Hugh Thomas; watch: The [American] Civil War; play: the Annual Battle of Gettysburg Re-enactment) and fictional wars (read: the works by John Marsden; watch: World War Z; play: World of Warcraft).

War is often discussed in terms of taking sides: which nation retains your loyalty? War reading, watching and playing is, however, about many more sides than those of the losers and the victors. This month explores not only the many different conflicts that dominate our histories but encourages you to explore those conflicts from a new perspective: a civilian; a combatant; an economist; a farmer; an historian; a refugee; a map maker; a military strategist; a peace maker; a politician; a protester; a weapons designer; and many more. War is also about change: what will you read, watch, play this month that changes you?

While you are reading, playing or watching your #warread, you might like to tweet about it using #warread #rwpchat so that other people can have a conversation with you about your #warread.  You can add to the discussion on Pinterest too. You might like to post your photographs to Instagram or Flickr and use #warread #rwpchat so others can share in your reading, watching and playing.

There will be a twitter discussion on 29 July starting at 8.00pm Australian Eastern Standard Time.   9.00pm New Zealand Time, 6.00pm Singapore Standard Time, 12.00 noon Central European Summer Time, 9am – 11am; 2pm – 4pm; 6pm – 8pm BST.  Note this is a staggered discussion.

Use the tags #warread and #rwpchat as you discuss the reading, watching playing that is your experience of warread, so others can join in the conversation too.

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