Mother Jones author, co-founder to give talk on WWI pacifists

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

LAWRENCE — Adam Hochschild, author of "To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918" (2011), will speak at 7:30 p.m. Monday, March 9, at The Commons in Spooner Hall. His lecture will focus on the struggle between staunch supporters of combat and a brave minority of pacifists who refused to fight in World War I.

A reception and booksigning will follow the event, which is free and open to the public.

World War I stands as one of history’s most senseless spasms of carnage, defying rational explanation. In a riveting, suspenseful narrative with haunting echoes for our own time, Hochschild brings it to life as never before. He focuses on the long-ignored moral drama of the war’s critics, alongside its generals and heroes.

Jailed for their opposition to the war were Britain’s leading investigative journalist, a future winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature and an editor who, behind bars, published a newspaper for his fellow inmates on toilet paper. These critics were sometimes intimately connected to their enemy hawks: One of Britain’s most prominent women pacifist campaigners had a brother who was commander in chief on the Western Front. Two well-known sisters split so bitterly over the war that they published newspapers that attacked each other. 

Today, hundreds of military cemeteries spread across the fields of northern France and Belgium contain the bodies of millions of men who died in the “war to end all wars.” Hochschild asks: Can we ever avoid repeating history?

Hochschild's first book, "Half the Way Home: A Memoir of Father and Son," was published in 1986. "King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa" won the prestigious Mark Lynton History prize for literary style. Hochschild has also written for The New Yorker, Harper’s, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, Mother Jones (which he co-founded), The Nation, and many other magazines and newspapers. A former commentator on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” he teaches writing at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California-Berkeley.

The event is free and open to the public.

Hochschild is hosted by the Hall Center for the Humanities, with the support of Peace & Conflict Studies in the Western Civilization Program, European Studies, Germanic Languages & Literatures and the Max Kade Center.

This lecture is part of a campuswide collaboration to commemorate the centennial of the First World War. Look for more events sponsored by the Hall Center, other campus units, and community partners over the next four years as KU and the surrounding community explore the war and its effects.