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The Crimes of England

G. K. Chesterton

Book Overview: 

“Second, when telling such lies as may seem necessary to your international standing, do not tell the lies to the people who know the truth. Do not tell the Eskimos that snow is bright green; nor tell the negroes in Africa that the sun never shines in that Dark Continent. Rather tell the Eskimos that the sun never shines in Africa; and then, turning to the tropical Africans, see if they will believe that snow is green. Similarly, the course indicated for you is to slander the Russians to the English and the English to the Russians; and there are hundreds of good old reliable slanders which can still be used against both of them. There are probably still Russians who believe that every English gentleman puts a rope round his wife’s neck and sells her in Smithfield. There are certainly still Englishmen who believe that every Russian gentleman takes a rope to his wife’s back and whips her every day. But these stories, picturesque and useful as they are, have a limit to their use like everything else; and the limit consists in the fact that they are not true, and that there necessarily exists a group of persons who know they are not true. It is so with matters of fact about which you asseverate so positively to us, as if they were matters of opinion.”

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Book Excerpt: 
. . . mutual politeness which keeps the peace in an insecure and insincere state of society. But that old blackened wooden sign is at least and after all the sign of something; the sign of the time when one solitary Hohenzollern did not only set fire to fields and cities, but did truly set on fire the minds of men, even though it were fire from hell.

Everything was young once, even Frederick the Great. It was an appropriate preface to the terrible epic of Prussia that it began with an unnatural tragedy of the loss of youth. That blind and narrow savage who was the boy's father had just sufficient difficulty in stamping out every trace of decency in him, to show that some such traces must have been there. If the younger and greater Frederick ever had a heart, it was a broken heart; broken by the same blow that broke his flute. When his only friend was executed before his eyes, there were two corpses to be borne away; and one to be borne on a high war-horse. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Lots of interesting history that I know little about since it's mostly about the events leading up to and the very beginnings of the First World War.

It's delightfully written. The subject matter is both dated and frozen in time to mid-World War I. For that reason, it's both anachronistic and from a great perspective (for history buffs). Chesterton's writing is nimble, clever, and intelligent, making it worth a read for lovers of writing.

Well, it can hardly be assumed that G K Chesterton is anything but a great and clever writer but perhaphs this book took me longer to get into due to the depths of its historical discussion that frankly, I was left treading in. Still, it was a good read and my favorite quote from it was "every ci...more

I will be the first to admit my area of expertise is....

Not the early 20th century. But. However. Etc. Even I know the Germans and German policy from the 18th Century on down were not responsible for every disaster the English used Germany for. And England used them a lot in the 18th Century. I'l...more

Despite the many valid and poignant points that G.K. Chesterton makes, it's quite ludicrous that while blaming Germany for their crimes to admit that England is not blameless; yet blame England's guilt on the Germans who infested England, i.e. King George and his ilk.

Don't go to Chesterton to get facts or history; go to him to get a lens to look at history. His books are merely his glasses. He's always got an opinion, and somehow it always rhymes or alliterates with some common phrase, which then turns out to be the opposite of what you thought it was.

This book is another volume in Chesterton's works during the First World War which justified the British participation in the war. In it, Chesterton takes the unusual and highly controversial position that, while Germany is to blame for the war through her aggression and barbarism, it is really E...more

It's really just a war-time essay trying to villify enemy.

Chesterton is very talanted annd witty and it's funny how he uses words like "heathens", "herecy" and alike. But nobody should honestly beleive that WWI was German's fault and other countries were "dragged" into it.

G.K. Chesterton is generally at his weakest in political polemic: His most difficult books to wade through are such titles as The Appetite of Tyranny, The Utopia of usurers, and The Barbarism of Berlin. Fortunately, The Crimes of England is among his better polemical works.

What Chesterton does is...more

G. K. Chesterton felt that a true patriot loves his/her country while viewing that state realistically. Written in 1915, Chesterton felt that England could not really claim the moral high road in World War I because, in fact, England helped to cause the war. Chesterton points to the fact that Eng...more

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