Letters to the Editor

Was the Great War a World War?

Jonathan Reed Winkler, November 2006

To the Editor:

Haberman and Shubert are, perhaps, right to question the constant presence of "exceptionalism" in the teaching of U.S. and European history. Their thoughts offer fodder for interesting, and, to some extent, necessary, debate ("American Exceptionalism and the Teaching of European History," Perspectives, September 2006).

But they are in error to suggest that World War I was not a "world war." Politically, of course, it involved nations from all around the world, from Brazil to Russia, Japan to the United States. It may have started as a European war, but did certainly did not remain one. Moreover, fighting was never confined to Europe; fighting occurred in China, the South Pacific, the waters around South America, the interior of Africa, and so on. To suggest otherwise is perhaps to fall into the same trap that they urge scholars to avoid.

—Jonathan Reed Winkler
Wright State University