Winder breezily lobs perspective into cosy schoolyard us-and-them memories.   Britain had a role in triggering the first world war (among others), summed up in one emissary’s snooty crassness; a caution against driving people to sprint into the arms of war faster than they might otherwise do:

‘The Germans had invested heavily in the Boer states, but had been told by a British emissary before the war broke out that if they interfered the British would declare war on Germany, destroy all German shipping and blockade Hamburg and Bremen so that Germany would choke.   This was an interesting and tactful preview of British behavior in 1914. In that single threat was all the argument that figures such as Admiral von Tirpitz needed to build Germany’s own navy to prevent this happening.’

‘The British hardly allowed a year to go by without shooting up a pile of individuals somewhere in the interests of free trade and British decency.’

Source: Simon Winder, Germania (London, Picador, 2011), p. 373 and 309

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