“I will not see the revolution in my lifetime”, may have been Lenin’s view in January of that year, but events of the next 11 months were to prove him (joyfully, as far as he was concerned?) mistaken.
But, apart from the two revolutions in Russia, what else sets out the year as worthy of study and discussion? The fourth year of the war was continuing on its deadly course (Arras, Passchendaele and Cambrai on the Western Front alone), but other epoch changing decisions were being made and, especially with the benefit of hindsight, seem of interest to us in 2017.
The lectures could thus focus on :
• The Russian Revolutions – February/March and October/November, The Western Front battles -
• Why Germany initiated unrestricted submarine warfare, “He kept us out of the war”, President Wilson and the US entry into the FWW;
• “A rational army would run away” (Montesquieu) – mutinies in the First World War;
• The Literary Year – from poetry to the Pulitzer Prize. The impact (or otherwise) of the written and spoken word on contemporaries and subsequent generations;
• How had the war aims of the belligerents developed by 1917, Mata Hari – a ‘demon of deception’ or a ‘naïve dupe’? Fairies – the Cottingley saga;
• The war in the Middle East – the Balfour declaration.
Participants would be most welcome to take on any of these (or their own choices) and deliver the material to the rest of the group if they so wished. This could be negotiated!