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overlook much of which we may be legitimately proud because it has demonstrated afresh to a world that was forgetting it that the British are essentially a great people with a genius for everything appertaining to war, however lacking in the supreme art of making durable peace. In that day we shall want to know a great deal more than we do at present concerning the origin of a conflict which has been to some extent obscured by interested parties on both sides of the North Sea who have enveloped the palpitating pre-war crisis in a curtain of misrepresentation. It is common ground that Germany willed the war for which she was super-abundantly prepared, while Great Britain willed peace for which she was no less eager. Not for the first time in our history were we taken completely unawaresneither Government nor public having the faintest inkling of any impending storm, still less that civilisation was on the eve of a cataclysm of which it would feel the effects for more than one century.
As we look back on the Dark Ages of 1914, so graphically recalled by the author of this book, we can only marvel at our blindness and wonder how it could be that so many highly trained observers and experts on current events could entirely ignore a danger that, in the familiar French phrase, “ leapt to the eyes. Of this strange phenomenon there has so far been no attempt at any explanation, no amende from those “great wise and eminent men ”-not confined to any particular political party–whose
business it should have been to see what stared them in the face, altogether apart from the fact that the Government of the day commanded that abundance of accurate inside information concerning international affairs, which, from generation to generation, is at the service of His Majesty's Ministers. It would be some consolation and compensation for all we have endured during this portentous period were there any guarantee that no such catastrophe could recur because the terrible lesson of 1914 to 1918 had been assimilated by Responsible Statesmen who ask so much from the Community that we are entitled to expect something from them in return.
If we cannot afford to forget the political aspect of that crisis, it is infinitely more agreeable to contemplate the miraculous manner in which “ England the Unready” buckled to and transformed herself into the mighty machine whose hammer blows on every element ultimately turned the scale, and with the aid of Allies and Associates converted what at the outset looked like “World Power” for Germany into her “ Downfall.”
Of the part played by the Fighting Men we know a good deal, and the more we know the more we admire. Of the wonderful organisation largely improvised, that placed and kept vast forces in the field all over the world, we know next to nothing, partly because the more dramatic aspects of the war have naturally attracted the attention of its historians, partly because
those with the necessary knowledge have been too busy re-converting the machine to pacific purposes to be able to write its war record.
In this attractive volume, Mr. Darroch, Assistant to the Chief Mechanical Engineer in the Locomotive Department of the London and North Western Railway Company at Crewe,who has enjoyed the advantage of two full years' active service overseas,-tells us in so many words how our premier Railway Company “did its bit.” Every factor in that great organisation was subordinated to the common object, and the Works at Crewe as urgency arose became a Munitions Department. It is a wonderful and stimulating story—made all the more interesting because the author continually bears in mind that it is part of a still larger whole and breaks what is entirely new ground to the vast majority of the reading public.
There is a desire in some quarters to banish the war as an evil dream—to bury its sacred memories, to forget all about it. If we followed this shallow advice, we should merely prove ourselves to be unworthy of the sublime sacrifice, thanks to which we escaped destruction, besides making a recurrence of danger inevitable.
table. To our author, who is an enthusiast in his calling, this book has been a labour of love, and he has certainly made us all his debtors by this brilliant and entrancing chapter of the history of the London and North-Western.
L. J. MAXSE.