The sad, the bad and the ugly
Vinen also has a lovely line in anecdote. A few examples:
Talking about the start of the 20th century: "In Germany, and especially in Prussia, ... a tough police force, composed largely of former army sergeants, enforced a ferocious penal code; in Berlin, even the length of hatpins was regulated by law." p. 45
In the Great War, "During a single night in the Carpathian mountains, a Croat regiment lost 1,800 men to hypothermia." p. 56.
And the one that really got me thinking about the dangers of "family" campaigners: "... the natalist policies of the Vichy government. Subsidies were given to women with children and better child-care facilities were provided, while penalties for abortion were tightened. In 1943, a woman was guillotined for having carried out an abortion." p. 149 (There no footnote on that one; anyone know any more about the case?)
Finally an interesting conclusion about WWI:
"It was the 'primitive' peasant populations of eastern Europe who behaved most rationally -- they deserted, allowed themselves to be taken prisoner or mutined. The fact that the war proved so long and so destructive was the result of the 'sophistication' of western European societies." p. 54.