vii INTRODUCTION TO VOLUME IX.
IN this Volume we conclude the epic story of
the Great War. The
narrative begins at the
moment when the last
German offensive had
been brought to a pause
by French and American valor in the second Battle of the Marne.
With the eye of genius Foch perceived that
the time had come to pass from the defensive
to the offensive, and his preparations were
made. On the 18th of July, his French and
Americans began their counter-stroke, and
that day will forever remain memorable in
the annals of mankind, for it was the date on
which the tide that had threatened to engulf
the world began definitely to recede. Thenceforth the Central Powers were always on the
defensive, and never again did their War
Lords taste of the cup of victory.
On the 8th of August Haig struck farther
northward and erased the salient that Ludendorff had driven toward Amiens. Thenceforth blow followed blow, not only in France
and Belgium but in the Balkans, Palestine,
and Italy. A new spirit pervaded the Allied
armies, and everywhere victory perched on
their banners. Bulgaria withdrew from the
war; Turkey, her armies beaten and communication with her allies cut off, sued for
peace; the Italians overwhelmed the Austro-Hungarians, and the whole Dual Monarchy
came down in one earth-shaking crash; the
Hindenburg Line, which the Germans had
boasted was impregnable, gave way before
the assaults of Foch, Haig, and Pershing; the
beaten Teutons, still fighting doggedly, retreated toward Germany; and finally, with
revolt rearing its head at home, the War
Lords, all hope gone, sued for an armistice.
The Kaiser and the Crown Prince fled to
Holland, and to comparatively unknown
men fell the unpleasant duty of signing the
humiliating terms that silenced the guns that
for more than four years had sounded unceasingly.
All of these mighty events are described in
some detail, but, for obvious reasons, more
space is given to American achievements.
The reader is cautioned, however, against
assuming that it was the Americans alone
who "won the war." They helped to win
the war, but all the Allies, under the direction of Foch, cooperated to that end, and all
contributed to the fortunate outcome.
In a special chapter many episodes
and aspects of the conflict are gathered under
the title of "Sidelights on the Great War."
In this chapter the reader will find much
information regarding the cost of the war in
blood and treasure, submarine and aerial
warfare, and such matters, and an effort is
also made to appraise the fighting qualities
of the various nations and of their leaders.
In the final chapter the chief events that
have occurred since the armistice are
described, but most space is devoted to the
Peace Conference. Years must pass before
we shall be able to pass judgment upon the
work of the diplomats who gathered in Paris
and sought to make a new world out of the
fragments of the old. Already, however, it
is clear that many mistakes were made and
that the hopes entertained by some idealists
will not be realized.
It can also be said with confidence that
years must pass before Europe can approximate normal conditions. And never in our
day can the nations whose wounds were
deepest reach a position when their people
will enjoy as high a standard of material
well-being as existed prior to those fatal summer days of 1914 when the Teutonic War
Lords unchained the demons of destruction.