An Internationally Renowned Work

When, in August 1898, Czar Nicholas II of Russia called for all ‘the nations to join a conference for the limitation of armaments’ cynics mistrusted his motives, believing this was because his nation was so far behind the major powers with whom he would never be able to catch up without such breathing space. We learn this from ‘The Steady Drummer – The Hague: 1899 and 1907’, being the 5th Chapter of Barbara W. Tuchman’s ‘The Proud Tower’.

Tuchman chronicles the two conferences that took place in these years, making it clear that every nation involved, including the US and European in 1907 supplemented at the insistence of the Americans by the Latin-American States, would put their own interests ahead of the others; the strong and better armed belligerents wanted it kept that way; disarmament and arms reduction were out of the question. Some progress was eventually made on the conduct of war, which, of course, would come to be blatantly ignored during the next half century. Humanity’s natural competition, territorial greed, and distrust prevailed.

I finished reading this section of the book this afternoon.

I don’t know when I last read Charles Dickens’s ‘The Adventures of Oliver Twist’, but it would have been before I began blogging, otherwise I would have scanned and featured before now my Folio Society edition of 1984 with

Charles Keepings’s inimitable illustrations sprawling across the pages, the first of which is the frontispiece.

Christopher Hibbert has written a useful introduction. I have not felt it necessary to review such an internationally well-known work.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy pasta arrabbiata with tender runner beans. The Culinary Queen finished the Greco di Tufo and I drank more of the Recital, involving an encore from another bottle.