Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Youtube Channels you should check out: The Great War.

You know, World War II (along with the Revolutionary and Civil War) is so ingrained in American culture these days. You see it everywhere, in movies, books, and innumerable History Channel documentaries of questionable objectivity. Hell, It's so prevalent that you would be forgiven if you failed to see the Roman numeral "2" in "World War II." Which means that "Hey, it had a prequel." You would be surprised as to how many people don't know this.

Armed Turkish soldiers marching Armenians to a prison camp in 1915. 
I'm not saying that World War II isn't worthy of study, nor am I denying its impact on the world as a whole. But it's a phenomenon I've never really understood. Why do we, as a culture, gloss over the first World War?  I'm not making this up, when I was in school (and by that I mean elementary through high school and even my early college years), all of my so called "World History 101" classes would barely touch World War I. Acknowledging that it happened, but never talking about it, as if doing so would give you Malaria. Hell, sometimes we weren't even given a basic understanding of the conflict, unless it was important to the events leading to World War 2. They would spend weeks, however, talking about what came in WW1's immediate aftermath, the intervening years, and even more weeks, half a bloody semester it seems, covering WWII. Let me see if I understand this, you mean to tell me that we can talk for weeks about the D-Day landings, but we don't have time to talk about the Battle of Gallipoli, which was arguably more deadly? We have time to talk about how cold it was during the Battle of Bulge, but not the year long slaughterfest that was the Battle of Verdun? We can talk all we want about the horrors of the Holocaust, but you can't spare a few words for the equally horrific Armenian Genocide ? It boggles my mind how much important stuff was never covered, Whether it was because of time constraints, or (and I personally suspect more likely) just plain laziness on the part of the teacher.    

The point is that, back when I was growing up, nobody talked about World War 1, it didn't exist, there was the American and French Revolutions, The Civil War, World War 2, Vietnam and that's it. Everything else might as well not have happened. This is one reason why I'm grateful for sites like Youtube,  Because between the stupid shit and the dime a dozen gaming channels, you do have some really interesting and well informed channels devoted to the teaching of History. And my personal favorite is, well, one devoted to the First World War; Called The Great War: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheGreatWar/featured  

Started in 2014, The channel is fascinating not only for its subject matter, but also for the way it presents the material. You see, rather than give an overview of the war as a whole, host Indy Neidell presents the war week by week, in real time. Meaning it will end, the same week that the actual war ended over 100 years ago. It's actually a very effective way to get you to watch the series, almost like your watching a drama on TV and not someone talking about history. This is helped along by four things, the first is the channels liberal use of real video footage from the time period, maps and graphics to help illustrate troop movements as battles occur, quotes from both academic sources and actual first hand accounts of soldiers and key figures from the conflict, and most importantly, Indy's enthusiasm for the subject. You can feel his passion for this subject, but he doesn't come off as a know it all, at least in my opinion. He also never pulls any punches when it comes to the horrors of the war, which is something I like, even if I do think that he can get a bit overzealous about it at times. Even so, he does a good job of getting it across and bringing the conflict to a very human level, which I think is a very important way to understand such things.

Another thing I like about this channel is that, in addition to covering the conflict, it also has special episodes that cover smaller details, like what Trench Warfare was actually like (see the video), as well as mini biography episodes of the major and minor players in the conflict which range from Kaiser Wilhelm, to what J. R. R. Tolkien was doing during the war. There are also episodes in where Indy takes time to answer fan questions.

Overall, The Great War is an excellent channel, its comprehensive and goes into a lot of detail about the war. But it never feels overwhelming, and it never feels like it's talking down to you. I highly recommend this one if you're a history buff, or are just interested in the First World War. Give them a subscribe, you might learn something.

And I'm out, thanks for reading everybody. Later.             



  1. HA! Good Question. Not to mention, most of world history got no more than teased, that I recall.

  2. Yeah, and even then, World War 1 can't get a mention. Lol.