The centenary year of the outbreak of World War I opened in Britain with an exchange of artillery barrages by the major political parties, each wheeling out its big historical guns on behalf of rival views of the war’s origins and meanings. The initiator of hostilities in this case was the Conservative education minister, Michael Gove, who took on the now rather moth-eaten academic and journalistic consensus about the war as having been something between a mistake and a crime by asking provocatively in The Daily Mail, “Why does the Left insist on belittling true British heroes?” The heroes in question were, of course, British soldiers of the Great War whom a certain historical tendency associated by Mr. Gove with the name of Sir Richard Evans, the Regius...


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