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Introduction: Approaching the Centenary 1914–2014

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Chapter Summary

This is the introductory chapter of the book Other Fronts, Other Wars?: First World War Studies on the Eve of the Centennial, which considers the First World War, a frequently used phrase by George F. Kennan calling the war the great seminal catastrophe of the 20th century has inevitably gained a life of its own. The success of the core message of the "seminal catastrophe" is evidence of a particular way of depicting the importance of the First World War that emerged after the end of the Cold War and the hegemony of two superpowers in world politics. The application of Kennan's phrase in different historiographic cultures leads to the conclusion that the historiography of the First World War is closely aligned. One might easily even predict that in all places the focus of the centenary will be, more than ever, on the global aspects of this war.

Keywords: Cold War; First World War; George F. Kennan; seminal catastrophe



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