In Flanders Fields

Spent the day in Ypres/Ieper about which many people more eloquent than I have already expounded. I’m glad I went. It truly is like a giant graveyard, not just the city itself but the entire Salient where the two sides bogged down in their respective trenches from 1914 to 1918 amid unprecedented and colossal bloodshed. I will spare you my adventures on Belgian public transportation trying to reach “Hill 62” and Sanctuary Wood where I had hoped to see the trenches which have been preserved since the war. I didn’t get quite that far. But I did spend a day in a place that evokes as well as anything the pain and loss and madness of what was truly a global war. At the In Flanders Fields museum in the old Lakenhalle in the Grote Markt a temporary exhibition Man Culture War tells just how global it was, not just geographically but in terms of the varied peoples who participated/were forced to participate.

The more I read about and understand this war, the more I reel from the figures. Can it really be that 60 million soldiers were mobilized, and of those 8 million died? (Michael Howard’s The First World War: A Very Short Introduction from Oxford University Press.)

More to come on WWI as you know.

Meanwhile, lots of good stuff on today’s show. Don’t miss Katy Clark on Bagram, Lisa Mullins and Michael Scharf on Luis Moreno-Ocampo’s accusations against the Sudanese government, or Elizabeth Ross’s piece on the Russian bells at Harvard. Don’t miss the Boston’s Globe’s audio slideshow on the bells either, narrated by the wonderful Diana Eck.




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