Read Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World by Margaret MacMillan Online

Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World

'Without question, Margaret MacMillan's Paris 1919 is the most honest and engaging history ever written about those fateful months after World War I when the maps of Europe were redrawn. Brimming with lucid analysis, elegant character sketches, and geopolitical pathos, it is essential reading.'Between January and July 1919, after "the war to end all wars," men and women from around the world converged on Paris to shape the peace. Center stage, for the first time in history, was an American president, Woodrow Wilson, who with his Fourteen Points seemed to promise to so many people the fulfillment of their dreams. Stern, intransigent, impatient when it came to security concerns and wildly idealistic in his dream of a League of Nations that would resolve all future conflict peacefully, Wilson is only one of the larger-than-life characters who fill the pages of this extraordinary book. David Lloyd George, the gregarious and wily British prime minister, brought Winston Churchill and John Maynard Keynes. Lawrence of Arabia joined the Arab delegation. Ho Chi Minh, a kitchen assistant at the Ritz, submitted a petition for an independent Vietnam.For six months, Paris was effectively the center of the world as the peacemakers carved up bankrupt empires and created new countries. This book brings to life the personalities, ideals, and prejudices of the men who shaped the settlement. They pushed Russia to the sidelines, alienated China, and dismissed the Arabs. They struggled with the problems of Kosovo, of the Kurds, and of a homeland for the Jews.The peacemakers, so it has been said, failed dismally; above all they failed to prevent another war. Margaret MacMillan argues that they have unfairly been made the scapegoats for the mistakes of those who came later. She refutes received ideas about the path from Versailles to World War II and debunks the widely accepted notion that reparations imposed on the Germans were in large part responsible for the Second World War.A landmark work of narrative history, Paris 1919 is the first full-scale treatment of the Peace Conference in more than twenty-five years. It offers a scintillating view of those dramatic and fateful days when much of the modern world was sketched out, when countries were created--Iraq, Yugoslavia, Israel--whose troubles haunt us still.Winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize, the PEN Hessell Tiltman Prize and the Duff Cooper Prize...

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Number of Pages : 624 pages
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Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World Reviews

  • Loring Wirbel

    (This is a companion review to David Andelman's "A Shattered Peace," on my bookshelf.)

    In reviewing the more recent "A Shattered Peace", I said that Andelman relied too much on sizzle, while Macmillan went for the steak. Since Margaret MacMillan is the great-granddaughter of David Lloyd George, one might expect that a comprehensive book like this would rely on personalities of the Big Four, and that it might be overly-sympathetic to Woodrow Wilson, Lloyd George, and Clemenceau. She does indeed re

  • Arminius

    I rank this book as one of my favorites because it explained the restitution in which Germany unfairly had to pay. The author explained thoroughly the reason for WWI. The reason was because there was a system of competing alliances. The Serbians were aligned with Russia but under Austrian control. Austria was aligned with Germany and France aligned with Russia. When Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria, the heir to the Austrian throne, was killed in 1914 by a Serbian separatist the Austrians cr ...more

  • Brendan Monroe

    If reading 900 pages on the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and the making of the Treaty of Versailles doesn't seem like your idea of a good time, I'm here to tell you how wrong you are. Margaret MacMillan's "Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World" is sensationally good. Not in that, "whew, thank god I'm done - at least I learned something" kind of way, but in that "Damn, I'm done - and there's so much still I want to know!" kind of way. This book is never boring, but does such a great job ...more

  • Lisa (Harmonybites)

    I rarely give out five stars--that's deliberate--but this is so illuminating on a complex topic without being dry, I think it deserves full marks. The book treats of "six months that changed the world"--the Paris Peace Conference that produced the Treaty of Versailles. I was taught in high school that the vindictive terms of that treaty were ruinous to Germany and at the root of Hitler's rise and the outbreak of World War II. It was a view popularized by John Maynard Keynes (who was involved in ...more

  • Sandra

    My issue with Margaret MacMillan's books is that, while exhaustively researched and meant to entertain while educating, they always come down to her playing on our gossipy and gleeful natures. With such a riot of information and colorful personalities, most people don't seem to notice, or mind, the tendency of meanness towards not only historical figures but entire nations. Yes, she only ever quotes other's opinions and observations, but there are ways and ways to present a person, let alone a w ...more

  • Clif Hostetler

    According to, this book argues that the conditions imposed on Germany in the Treaty of Versailles did not lead to the rise of Adolf Hitler. I read the book back in 2003 so my memory of its contents is a bit hazy, but I don’t remember that point being made by the book. What I do remember is that the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires caused numerous cases of minority enclaves being surrounded by hostile neighbors. The resulting ethnic cleansing through migration (an ...more

  • Eric Althoff

    A fascinating history lesson for buffs or novices alike, "Paris 1919" recounts--in always interesting but sometimes overly exposed detail--the Paris Peace Conference and how it shaped the broken European landscape (and indeed, much of the world) after The War to End All Wars. By turns fascinating and flustering--knowing what we know now--MacMillan skillfully creates a narrative from cold, hard facts and brings the personalities of the American, French, British and various other politicos who tri ...more

  • Matt

    What a fantastic read! I learned so much from MacMillan's intricate account of the time after the Great War. She relies on many historical facts and documents to weave an extremely detailed explanation of how the world was re-draw and the grave errors the BIG FOUR made and how those decisions are still reverberating today.

    I knew little of the fallout of the Great War, save that there was a Treaty of Versailles. I knew the German reaction led to the fuelling of animosity and, eventually, the rise