Title

Review: Bruno Cabanes, The Great War and the Origins of Humanitarianism

Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date

11-2-2016

Publication Title

First World War Studies

Volume

7

Issue

2

First page number:

225

Last page number:

227

Abstract

The great war and the origins of humanitarianism is a well-written and tightly argued account of key events, ideas, and, most importantly, the innovators who remade the humanitarian ideal after the First World War. The end of the war marks a turning point in the practice of humanitarianism which takes on a strong ‘transnational dimension’ in the wake of the international crisis brought on by the pressure of total war (p. 5). This story of the transformation of humanitarianism is also one of healing and forgiveness after a war that made victims of both civilians and military combatants. After introducing the subject, Cabanes explains in five thematic chapters, each focused on particular moments of humanitarian intervention, what was at stake in post-war campaigns to assist war veterans, workers, refugees, famine victims and children. The book concludes by assessing the legacy of humanitarian idealism in furthering a universal notion of rights through attempts to ameliorate human suffering.

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