This fall Indiana University commemorates the 100th year anniversary of the start of World War I. This gruesome conflict brought forth unprecedented destruction: peaceful European countryside ensconced in barbed wire, quaint fields and pastures disfigured with trenches, soldiers squirming in agony from chemical burns, the incessant shelling rupturing the ground… truly, Europe has never witnessed the horror of this proportion before.

All the Eastern European countries (and the Slavic world in particular) were deeply affected. The assassination of Archduke Franz-Ferdinand in Sarajevo by the Serbian nationalists provided a convenient excuse for the declaration of war. The Polish territory, torn apart and devastated by the empires, served as a scene of numerous military operations. In Russia, the war precipitated the collapse of the empire, Tsar Nicholas’s abdication from the throne, and the accession of Bolsheviks to power.

This mini-exhibition presents a few books on the topic selected by the Slavic and East European studies librarian Wookjin Cheun. All the titles are available at the Wells Library or via the e-library. Take a look or come to the fifth floor of Wells library to pick up those books!

“This book is one of a two-part collection of original essays on the cultural history of Russia from the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 to the establishment of the Soviet Union in 1922. The chapters in both parts of Russian Culture in War and Revolution represent the work of an international group of scholars. They explore the relationship between the crises of that period and the multifaceted dimensions of culture. The result is a diverse and stimulating array of essays on subjects that range from the experience of cultural institutions and the arts, to aspects of identity and the production of meaning in popular culture. Many of the topics covered in the two books have rarely, if ever, been explored across the 1914-22 period as a whole.” (more)

“The Carpathian campaign of 1915, described by some as the “Stalingrad of the First World War,” engaged the million-man armies of Austria-Hungary and Russia in fierce winter combat that drove them to the brink of annihilation. Habsburg forces fought to rescue 130,000 Austro-Hungarian soldiers trapped by Russian troops in Fortress Przemysl, but the campaign was waged under such adverse circumstances that it produced six times as many casualties as the number besieged. It remains one of the least understood and most devastating chapters of the war-a horrific episode only glimpsed previously but now vividly restored to the annals of history by Graydon Tunstall.” (more)

The catastrophe of the First World War, and the destruction, revolution, and enduring hostilities it wrought, make the issue of its origins a perennial puzzle. Since World War II, Germany has been viewed as the primary culprit. Now, in a major reinterpretation of the conflict, Sean McMeekin rejects the standard notions of the war’s beginning as either a Germano-Austrian preemptive strike or a “tragedy of miscalculation.” Instead, he proposes that the key to the outbreak of violence lies in St. Petersburg.” (more)

“Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich Romanov (1856–1929) was a key figure in late Imperial Russia, and one of its foremost soldiers. At the outbreak of World War I, his cousin, Tsar Nicholas II, appointed him Supreme Commander of the Russian Army. From 1914 to 1915, and then again briefly in 1917, he was commander of the largest army in the world in the greatest war the world had ever seen. His appointment reflected the fact that he was perhaps the man the last Emperor of Russia trusted the most. At six foot six, the Grand Duke towered over those around him. His fierce temper was a matter of legend. However, as Robinson’s vivid account shows, he had a more complex personality than either his supporters or detractors believed.” (more)

“The story of Russia’s First World War remains largely unknown, neglected by historians who have been more interested in the grand drama that unfolded in 1917. In Russia’s First World War: A Social and Economic History Peter Gatrell shows that war is itself ‘revolutionary’ – rupturing established social and economic ties, but also creating new social and economic relationships, affiliations, practices and opportunities.” (more)

“[Nik Cornish’s] book is a fascinating photographic record of the army under the Tsar Nicholas II, then under the Provisional Government and the Bolshevik rule that succeeded him. The impact of the Russian revolution is also revealed in the photographs which take the story through from the initial outbreaks of discontent and the abdication of the Tsar to Lenin’s take-over and the end of Russia’s war – and of the imperial army – in 1917.” (more)