So many awful 20th century roads lead back to the First World War. And despite conventional wisdom, there could have been peace two years before it came to an official (but not really) end. Through a process of detective work, author Philip Zelikow discovered a secret effort by the Germans to bring the war to an end. It required Woodrow Wilson to call a peace conference, which the president wanted to do but fumbled. The important new book is The Road Less Traveled; The Secret Battle to End the Great War 1916-1917. Unlike other speculative histories, peace was visible at the time. An unknown but true hero is German Chancellor Bethmann who sought to bring an end to the industrialized slaughter. Meanwhile Wilson’s self-serving Edward House was the opposite. Fascinating and important revelations.

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