HISTORY AS LITERATURE: The Diary of Charles Ponton The World War I Diary of Charles Ponton THE DIARY OF CHARLES PONTON / Charles Ponton Introduction How the world fell into the catastrophe of World War I will always be villains. Perhaps the ultimate cause was the rulers themselves, and their something of a mystery. It was a war with neither clear issues nor simple greed and vanity as quaintly ludicrous as the gilded eagle sprouting from the top of the war-helmet crown of Kaiser Wilhelm II. The ambitious Kaiser and his government were more to blame than others, but the leadership cultures of Europe, and the behavior of European governments, had much in common in 1914. The Germans were hardly in a class by themselves. The twentieth century had dawned upon a fully industrial but only tentatively democratized Western world. Relatively small percentages of citizens, including no women, could vote. The governments of Europe were still overseen by a small class of aristocrats, who felt threatened from below by democratizing and socialist movements. Kaiser Wilhelm, Queen Victoria of England, and Czar Nicholas of Russia were all related to each other, and the governments they headed were in many
The Missouri Review – University of Missouri
Published: Oct 5, 1993
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