Wilson, Clemenceau, Lloyd George and the Roads to Paris

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Robert F. Klueger’s Wilson, Clemenceau, Lloyd George, and the Roads to Paris is an immense and highly impressive work of historical/political scholarship. Coming in at around 660 pages, including some 1917 footnotes, it is an admirably detailed yet still eminently readable account of the lives of three of the twentieth century’s most influential politicians – Woodrow Wilson, Georges Clemenceau, and David Lloyd George – and the events that led to their signing (alongside German and Italian representatives) of the Treaty of Versailles.

While the three men were similar in terms of their charisma, drive, and political ambition, the roads they had traveled to reach Versailles were very different. Clemenceau was a physician by training, although he dedicated his life to politics and upholding the ideals of the French Revolution. He played an active role in the Dreyfus Affair and counted Emile Zola, Claude Monet, and Karl Marx among his acquaintances. Lloyd George grew up in poverty in Wales and was unable to complete his secondary education. An apprenticeship as a solicitor served as a stepping stone to his being elected to the House of Commons at the age of twenty-seven. Wilson was a respected academic who made the move from being president of Princeton University to being president of the United States in just two years. In the first part of the book, Klueger sketches the backgrounds of the three and provides readers with insights into what would come to motivate their actions during the war.

In the second part, Klueger moves on to the events of World War I itself, which saw Clemenceau’s and Lloyd George’s involvement from the outset, while Wilson entered the fray in 1917. Their countries’ differing experiences during the conflict – France and Britain suffered hundreds of thousands of casualties and were left impoverished, while the United States suffered considerably fewer casualties and ended the war in a stronger financial position – meant that the three men entered the Versailles negotiations with considerably different goals in mind. Klueger weighs up how these motivations, as well as the perspectives of other key players, influenced the three to negotiate a treaty that would eventually trigger disaster, and in the third part, he takes readers through the key events of the Paris Peace Conference. The epilog to the book provides some details as to the three men’s post-Versailles lives and careers, in addition to setting out some of the events that would ultimately contribute to the outbreak of World War II.

Wilson, Clemenceau, Lloyd George, and the Roads to Paris is a detailed and extremely well-researched account of a momentous period in world history, a period in which the actions of a few arguably had catastrophic consequences for the many. Klueger does a great job of humanizing the three central figures and elucidating how their personal experiences influenced their political actions. He sets out the important circumstances, key events, and vital consequences leading up to, during, and after World War I. As such, this book represents an important contribution to the literature concerning the pre-1914 world, the history of World War I, and how the stage was set for World War II.

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Author Robert F. Klueger
Star Count 4.5/5
Format eBook
Page Count 660 pages
Publisher 15-Feb-2021
Publish Date
ISBN 9781736387306
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue March 2021
Category History