The Meanings of 1917

  • Dr. Michael Neiberg


Nineteen-seventeen represents a watershed moment both when seen from our perspective today and in the views of contemporaries. This brief paper will try to put meaning and context to the changes, including the two Russian revolutions (in February and October), the entry of the United States into the First World War, and the Balfour Declaration pledging British support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine. How much different would today’s world look without any one of them? Rather than recap these events from 1917, this brief paper will try to put meaning and context into them, especially as they relate to the conduct of the war in that year. Nineteen-seventeen was as much a watershed on the battlefield as it was off of it.

Author Biography

Dr. Michael Neiberg

MICHAEL S. NEIBERG is the inaugural Chair of War Studies in the Department of National Security and Strategy at the United States Army War College.  His published work specializes on the First and Second World Wars, notably the American and French experiences.  His most recent book on the First World War is Dance of the Furies: Europe and the Outbreak of World War I (Harvard University Press, 2011).  The Wall Street Journal recently named it one of the five best books ever written about the war.  In October, 2012 Basic Books published his The Blood of Free Men, a history of the liberation of Paris in 1944.  In May, 2015 Basic published his Potsdam: The End of World War II and the Remaking of Europe.  In October, Oxford University Press published his Path to War, a history of American responses to the Great War, 1914-1917.

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