Dan Snow's Foreword

Dan Snow.jpg

The First World War was a military, political, economic and human catastrophe which destroyed millions of lives and fundamentally altered the course of human history. It tore up the map of Europe and toppled ancient empires. It left chaos in its wake, revolutions, civil wars, ethnic cleansing and bitterness which meant that the legacy of the war extended far beyond the end of formal hostilities in 1918. In fact we are still living with the consequences of the war. Turmoil in the Middle East, tensions with Russia, ethnic squabbling in Eastern Europe are all symptoms of a world that has still not dealt with the fallout of the war. 

As this excellent resource points out, the effects on Britain were just as profound. Hundreds of thousands of men had been killed; many more bore the physical and psychological scars. Britain was victorious but almost bankrupt. There had been great changes to society. Women had challenged how they were seen by successfully taking on jobs that had supposedly been the exclusive preserve of men. After the war many women were given the vote for the first time to reflect their contribution and millions of working class men were also given the vote as returning soldiers and workers in key war industries demanded a greater say in how the country was run. Britain entered the democratic era as a result of the war. This new electorate was more interested in rebuilding their country and spending Government money on welfare than on more battleships. 

The war changed Britain and the world. Only by understanding it and its consequences, can we make sense of the world around us today. This resource produced by Never Such Innocence gives us an excellent account of the war, its effect on society, art and culture. It is a great place for young people to start learning and engaging with our shared history.