Nick Howard

Revolution in the trenches

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All along the frontlines ordinary soldiers agreed unofficial truces known as 'live and let live'.

The chances of a soldier being killed in “the war to end wars” were very high, ranging from one in three for Serbians and one in four among Scottish, Turkish and Rumanian soldiers. Bulgarians suffered one in five fatalities, the French one in six and it was about the same among the Germans. The lowest loss rate was among the Americans, one in 40. In all 10 million men died, 15 million were injured and 9 million became prisoners of war. Most men of suitable age had no choice whether to take the risks of war or not.

Do the honours; Train of thought

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Do the honours

Should we commemorate the centenary of the First World War? For the left it was a major disaster, and life-shattering for the millions of workers on all sides who enlisted in it. Expectations that it would lead to a better life were totally destroyed.

Yet even after the casualty lists ran into hundreds of thousands, the frightened rulers of the states who started it turned to force to prolong it. Only when those who did the actual fighting and dying decided enough was enough did it come to an end - in Russia and Germany, by revolution.

Salvador Allende

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For those who know little of Chile's 1973 September 11, this is a good starter. President Allende, a brave and decent man, a socialist and a democrat died defending his elected government against a vicious coup that replaced his regime with a Junta of generals who conducted a reign of terror and torture, primarily against the working class of Chile. US President Nixon, Kissinger, the CIA, US mining corporations, and Chile's own oligarchic landowning elites were all complicit in this massive crime against humanity.

The Northern Clemency

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Philip Hensher, Fourth Estate, £17.99

The Northern Clemency is a novel set very firmly in the era of Thatcherism against the backdrop of the miners' strike, privatisation and the selling off of council housing. It recounts the histories of two Sheffield families, both of middle management class.

War Fever

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The great influenza of 1918 had social roots.

The global war of 1914-18 between the European powers brought suffering and destruction to populations in the farthest regions of the world. While the military destruction took place largely in Europe, where 9 million soldiers were killed, the conflict spread to Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and to most of the oceans of the world. The greatest numbers of casualties, however, were not inflicted by shells, bullets and chemical weapons, but by the diseases and hunger that ensued, and by the 1918 flu pandemic that sprang directly from the war.

Nato's Sea of Troubles

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The expansion of Nato eastward comes on the eve of war. Dragan Plavsic argues this is no coincidence.

'Nato has became a European peace movement. An effective movement, that is, to spread peace across the continent,' gushed Timothy Garton Ash in the 'Guardian' in November, one week after the three Baltic states-Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania-together with Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, were invited at Nato's Prague summit to join the alliance in 2004. In his enthusiasm for this miraculous conversion, Garton Ash turned a blind eye to the heart of the matter - Nato as the vehicle of US imperial expansion eastwards, and war as an integral part of the strategy.

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