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Monday, February 24, 2014

John Thorn: Woodrow Wilson: The First Fantasy Baseball Player

Eat your heart out, Kerouac!

Yes, it’s a provocative title but a startling new find has me believing it’s true. Like the protagonist in Robert Coover’s 1968 novel The Universal Baseball Association, J. Henry Waugh, Prop., the 14-year-old Thomas Woodrow Wilson—known as Tommy—created a whole universe of players, statistics, and a pennant race, with or without the aid of dice. But unlike Waugh—who invented a table game using three dice, a “Stress Chart,” and an “Extraordinary Occurrences Chart”—the young Wilson did not create players or teams. He used only the cast of characters in the real-life National Association of 1871, which he surely read about in the sporting weeklies. And now, from deep in the archives of the Library of Congress, we have come upon Tommy Wilson’s complete handwritten record of that fantasy season. George Wright, Al Spalding, and Cap Anson cavort on an imaginary field, along with all the other worthies of that first year of professional league play.

...What first alerted me to the utter fantasy of the statistics was chancing upon a game Wilson created for June 30, 1871 between the Forest City of Rockford, Illinois and the Olympics of Washington, DC. Not only does Anson hit a home run for Rockford (in the real 1871 season he hit none) but pitcher Cherokee Fisher tosses a no-hitter, in which the only opponents to reach first base do so through errors. This would be professional baseball’s first no-hitter, and nearly a perfect game … except that it never happened.

I believe Wilson commenced his work here in March-April of 1871. The National Association (NA) was formed on March 17 in a meeting at Collier’s Saloon in New York at Broadway and 13th Street. Of the ten clubs represented at that meeting, eight plunked down their $10 entrance fee. The Eckfords and Atlantics, however, who were thought certain to be original members, demurred, preferring to play independent of the new circuit. In the days that followed a surprising ninth club entered the NA: the Kekionga of Fort Wayne. In his proprietary league, Wilson includes all eleven clubs, and even some players who, as holdovers from their 1870 clubs, were thought to have renewed for 1871, but were released or quit.

Some nerdy highlights (abandon hope, all ye casual fans who enter here):

Repoz Posted: February 24, 2014 at 11:40 AM | 155 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history

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   1. AROM Posted: February 24, 2014 at 11:48 AM (#4661397)
I generally despise war-mongering presidents with W in the name, but this is pretty cool.
   2. Accent Shallow Posted: February 24, 2014 at 11:56 AM (#4661401)
I generally despise war-mongering presidents with W in the name, but this is pretty cool.

So Wilson was good in the beginning, but then he went too far?
   3. Swoboda is freedom Posted: February 24, 2014 at 11:58 AM (#4661402)
Well, if it a Woodrow Wilson fantasy league, all the players are white.
   4. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: February 24, 2014 at 12:05 PM (#4661405)
I'm somewhere between amazed and confused.
(by this story, not Wilson jokes)
   5. GregD Posted: February 24, 2014 at 12:07 PM (#4661407)
I don't think calling Wilson a war monger is fair in context. Most of the people who criticized and ran against him complained he was too reluctant to get involved in the war. Certainly Hughes in 1916 criticized him strongly for not being in war preparation mode. And TR of course all but denounced Wilson as a pacifist.

In so many ways Wilson was amazing. A truly pathbreaking scholar. This baseball thing is incredible. The idea of the League of Nations.

If Wilson had been born in New Jersey he might have been one of the greats. But he internalized so deeply the southern racism (not that the northerners weren't racist in different ways) that he wasted enormous time (and did lasting harm) by dedicating so much energy to segregating the federal work force and purging black employees.

The issue isn't that he was a person of his time; he was extreme for his time on the issue. The issue is that these practices had endured from the 1880s to 1910s under some fairly unimpressive characters (does anyone think Taft or McKinley were racial visionaries?) And Wilson had to work hard to undo them and he picked cabinet members for spots specifically to accomplish it, for fear that if they got distracted integrated workplaces would survive his administration and endure in the federal government. But it was his priority. Many of his other goals were left unfilled, but this one he succeeded in. So it's fair to consider it--as he did--a big part of his legacy.
   6. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 12:09 PM (#4661408)
This is indeed extremely cool. And he did it in 1871!
   7. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 12:19 PM (#4661418)
I don't think calling Wilson a war monger is fair in context. Most of the people who criticized and ran against him complained he was too reluctant to get involved in the war. Certainly Hughes in 1916 criticized him strongly for not being in war preparation mode. And TR of course all but denounced Wilson as a pacifist.

In so many ways Wilson was amazing. A truly pathbreaking scholar. This baseball thing is incredible. The idea of the League of Nations.

If Wilson had been born in New Jersey he might have been one of the greats. But he internalized so deeply the southern racism (not that the northerners weren't racist in different ways) that he wasted enormous time (and did lasting harm) by dedicating so much energy to segregating the federal work force and purging black employees.

The issue isn't that he was a person of his time; he was extreme for his time on the issue. The issue is that these practices had endured from the 1880s to 1910s under some fairly unimpressive characters (does anyone think Taft or McKinley were racial visionaries?) And Wilson had to work hard to undo them and he picked cabinet members for spots specifically to accomplish it, for fear that if they got distracted integrated workplaces would survive his administration and endure in the federal government. But it was his priority. Many of his other goals were left unfilled, but this one he succeeded in. So it's fair to consider it--as he did--a big part of his legacy.


Ummm, he was a vicious racist, and a borderline fascist. The Federal Gov't trampled civil liberties left and right during WWI.

On the short list of worst Presidents ever.
   8. Rants Mulliniks Posted: February 24, 2014 at 12:25 PM (#4661425)
On the short list of worst Presidents ever.


And you didn't even mention his most damning "accomplishment" - ushering in the Federal Reserve.
   9. AROM Posted: February 24, 2014 at 12:29 PM (#4661430)
WWI was just a terrible idea for the US to get involved in. You don't have the excuse of WW2 where the side we were fighting against was truly evil. We fought with the British against the Germans and not the other way around because well, mostly because we spoke the same language.

Teddy Roosevelt may have jumped into that bad idea quicker than Wilson, but it was still a bad idea.

Wilson was a terrible and destructive president. Too bad sabermetrics wasn't invented yet. His passion for the sport and his intellect might have been really useful to a front office back then.
   10. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 12:32 PM (#4661433)
WWI was just a terrible idea for the US to get involved in. You don't have the excuse of WW2 where the side we were fighting against was truly evil. We fought with the British against the Germans and not the other way around because well, mostly because we spoke the same language.

We fought with the British because we loaned them a #### ton of money to finance arms purchases, and the cultural affinity of the WASP upper class.

Agree it was a terrible decision. The century unfolds much better if Germany wins. Most likely avoids WW2 and several genocides that cost 30+ million lives.
   11. BDC Posted: February 24, 2014 at 12:37 PM (#4661438)
If Wilson had been born in New Jersey he might have been one of the greats. But he internalized so deeply the southern racism (not that the northerners weren't racist in different ways)

An important parenthesis. William Jennings Bryan, for instance, was born in Lincoln country and made his career in Nebraska, and he was no better than Wilson on race.

But with that caveat, one's opinion of Wilson is going to jibe with one's opinion on leading America into world prominence, and the 20th century in general. He was a visionary historian, a rare mix.
   12. Morty Causa Posted: February 24, 2014 at 12:58 PM (#4661452)
There's a biography on Wilson that recently came out. Anyone read it? There was a quite lengthy interview with the author on NPR a few months back.

Here's that interview.
   13. McCoy Posted: February 24, 2014 at 12:59 PM (#4661455)

Agree it was a terrible decision. The century unfolds much better if Germany wins. Most likely avoids WW2 and several genocides that cost 30+ million lives.


Outside of avoiding Hitler and the whole German genocide thing I see no reason to think the rest of the century works out well. If Germany wins then England and France are smashed, Germany heavily in debt and probably raping the economies of the areas they've taken as well as punishing the vanquished, and the rise of Stalin in the East basically means Europe is one big dominoes set ready to fall over at the slightest gust of wind.

You really think Stalin was any nicer and better for the 20th century than Hitler?
   14. Greg K Posted: February 24, 2014 at 01:02 PM (#4661456)
More First World War talk, hooray!

Though, it should be noted that this Wilson fantasy baseball stuff really is astounding. I remember I used to run a pen and paper baseball league using boys and girls in my 3rd grade class. I think fortunately, I always resisted the urge to strike up a conversation with a girl by telling her she had a great stolen base percentage.
   15. Greg K Posted: February 24, 2014 at 01:08 PM (#4661462)
Outside of avoiding Hitler and the whole German genocide thing I see no reason to think the rest of the century works out well. If Germany wins then England and France are smashed, Germany heavily in debt and probably raping the economies of the areas they've taken as well as punishing the vanquished, and the rise of Stalin in the East basically means Europe is one big dominoes set ready to fall over at the slightest gust of wind.

You really think Stalin was any nicer and better for the 20th century than Hitler?

By the time America jumped into things I think it was too late to matter much, no matter who won Europe was going to be a ###### up place for the next long while. By 1917 I think we'd already reached the "nobody's winning" moment.

You can probably make a better case for Britain staying out in 1914 being a good thing on the whole for humanity. Not sure I buy it (mostly because I'm not entirely sure you can assume it's a quick victory for Germany without Britain's involvement), but it's a point of speculation.

Though even in the simulation that ends with Germany winning some kind of quick victory, that still means Russia is heading for disaster, which obviously is a bad outcome. I think the only way 20th century Russia isn't a disaster is by avoiding the First World War altogether. And even then there was probably a slim chance of happy ending, but at least they'd have had a fighting chance.
   16. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 01:10 PM (#4661463)
Though, it should be noted that this Wilson fantasy baseball stuff really is astounding. I remember I used to run a pen and paper baseball league using boys and girls in my 3rd grade class.


I can still remember the teams, player names & in some cases the stats I made up for the baseball league I invented back in 6th grade. Also the football, basketball & hockey leagues.

Lots of overlap, not surprisingly.
   17. GregD Posted: February 24, 2014 at 01:11 PM (#4661464)
An important parenthesis. William Jennings Bryan, for instance, was born in Lincoln country and made his career in Nebraska, and he was no better than Wilson on race.
I actually disagree. Bryan was distinct, though also objectionable from modern standards. Bryan accepted support from all kinds of racists--including the 2nd Klan--and there were certainly deep associations between his evangelical Protestant prohibitionist stance and the heart of 20th century racism. And at times Bryan mouthed it. But Bryan was a slippery figure and at times he could be quite fluid on racial issues. Never a crusader against racism, no doubt, but also not usually a crusader for racism either. It wasn't his key issue.

For Wilson proper race relations was one of the 2-3 most-important issues of his life, and he woke up thinking about it and went to bed thinking about it; it was just a much more serious priority, and it's no surprise that he committed so much of his time and so many of his appointments to making sure his goals were achieved.

My guess is that a Bryan presidency would have had all kinds of strange effects but would not have led to the segregation of the federal workforce, as Cleveland's presidency had negatively impacted but not destroyed black officeholding earlier on.
   18. BDC Posted: February 24, 2014 at 01:17 PM (#4661467)
Elaboration accepted, Greg! Thanks.

One factoid about Wilson is that he was dyslexic, and a kind of overcompensator who was fiercely idiosyncratic in his note-taking and scholarship. The mss. images in TFA tend to confirm this. They show a big investment in detail and in proofreading (quite a few corrections in bold over the top of mistakes). The factoid may be just that, but it's an interesting sidelight. High-literate dyslexics that I know tend to

   19. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 01:17 PM (#4661468)
Outside of avoiding Hitler and the whole German genocide thing I see no reason to think the rest of the century works out well. If Germany wins then England and France are smashed, Germany heavily in debt and probably raping the economies of the areas they've taken as well as punishing the vanquished, and the rise of Stalin in the East basically means Europe is one big dominoes set ready to fall over at the slightest gust of wind.

You really think Stalin was any nicer and better for the 20th century than Hitler?


England isn't smashed; the whole empire is still intact. I think a victorious Germany strangles Bolshevism in its crib.

   20. Swoboda is freedom Posted: February 24, 2014 at 01:18 PM (#4661469)
The Federal Gov't trampled civil liberties left and right during WWI.

and in the Civil War, and World War II. Pretty much any time there was a war.

The main problem with the sedition acts passed during World War I is that they kept going long after the war, which was unusual.
   21. Dan Lee is some pumkins Posted: February 24, 2014 at 01:19 PM (#4661471)
The photos in TFA are incredible.

One of them is a handwritten "newspaper" about Wilson's league that includes the following:
The Chicago's played a game with the Kekionga's at Ft Wayne on the 16th of May, and as the Chicago's played a tremendous batting game and the Ku Klux did not the Chicagos won by the following decisive...
Whoa. Just...whoa.
   22. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 01:23 PM (#4661475)
High-literate dyslexics that I know tend to


not finish their sentences?
   23. Swoboda is freedom Posted: February 24, 2014 at 01:23 PM (#4661476)
The idea of the League of Nations.

Wilson was an idealist. Some of the 14 points were great in terms of self determination, but Wilson was completely outmaneuvered during Versailles. He was completely unrealistic about the League. The League without a force to back it up was toothless and useless.
   24. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 01:28 PM (#4661482)
Wilson was an idealist. Some of the 14 points were great in terms of self determination, but Wilson was completely outmaneuvered during Versailles.

As Clemenceau said, "Even the good Lord contented himself with 10 commandments."
   25. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 01:30 PM (#4661486)
Toothless & useless is no way to go through life.
   26. GregD Posted: February 24, 2014 at 01:32 PM (#4661488)
I never remember whether Wilson's family had connections in the first, real Klan. Augusta was a hotbed and so was Columbia, S.C. where he also lived in this period. My sense of his deeper knowledge of, and support for, the first Klan was through people he met at Davidson just after this period where he knew the children of some significant NC Klan leaders. In any event his writing on the Klan--a self-defense organization necessary against oppression and misrule and race-mixing but that at times went too far as the poor whites stopped listening to the leaders--was totally banal among white southerners of his and the subsequent generation.

It would not be a surprising that a young white teenage boy would look up to the Klan in Georgia or Columbia or North Carolina; they aimed to be romantic figures.
   27. PreservedFish Posted: February 24, 2014 at 01:33 PM (#4661490)
If Germany wins WWI, do we still get to a point where the Western European powers enter into seemingly permanent peaceful relationships? That seems like rather an important development. I have absolutely no idea.

Also, more importantly, the link is amazing.
   28. Bitter Mouse Posted: February 24, 2014 at 01:35 PM (#4661491)
You really think Stalin was any nicer and better for the 20th century than Hitler?


This is a really odd statement, seeing as how having Hitler did not mean we did not have Stalin. Would a german victory in WWI have made the rest of the 20th better? I am not sure, but likely yes.

If the US stays out there are many impacts, including likely less spread of the Spanish Flu and the US does not invade Russia (which was really dumb, btw) along with many other impacts.

I think all the various colonial and other empires were doomed no matter what, so I guess the question is do we get there with less death with a German Victory? Given the assortment of things that happened after WWI I have a hard time coming up with something worse than what happened, but that may be lack of imagination on my part.

Specifically I think a victorious Germany could have done a fine job holding back a slightly less paranoid Russia (assuming not being invaded by the allies would have resulted in a slight reduction in paranoia).

Of course I guess the first question is what do we mean by German victory? WWI started with such a mess, that I am not sure even the Germans of the day know what a reasonable (less than total) victory would have been. What happens to their allies?
   29. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 01:36 PM (#4661493)
In any event his writing on the Klan--a self-defense organization necessary against oppression and misrule and race-mixing but that at times went too far as the poor whites stopped listening to the leaders--


Take it to the ... ummm ... movie thread. The title of which I forget. Something about the first black baseball player being forced to live his life as a white woman, or thereabouts.
   30. McCoy Posted: February 24, 2014 at 01:36 PM (#4661494)
England isn't smashed; the whole empire is still intact. I think a victorious Germany strangles Bolshevism in its crib.

England is bankrupt, a whole generation is wiped out, and Germany has a gigantic navy that probably seriously crippled the Royal Navy. They're smashed.
   31. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 01:39 PM (#4661495)
If Germany wins WWI, do we still get to a point where the Western European powers enter into seemingly permanent peaceful relationships? That seems like rather an important development. I have absolutely no idea.

I think it depends on how quick the victory is. IMHO, a German victory in 1914 or 1915 leads to a peaceful, German dominated Europe. Basically the EU is imposed by German bayonets. A victory in 1917 and it's a coin-toss on whether Europe is wracked by revolution anyway.
   32. BDC Posted: February 24, 2014 at 01:40 PM (#4661498)
not finish their sentences?

exactly, no, what they tend to do is be fanatical about proofreading and formatting – in fact often do better at that than non-dyslexics.
   33. Greg K Posted: February 24, 2014 at 01:41 PM (#4661500)
England isn't smashed; the whole empire is still intact. I think a victorious Germany strangles Bolshevism in its crib.

I think this points to one of the issues with this counter-factual. What is German victory? One of the main problems being, I'm not sure the Germans really knew what their war aims were. A quick victory in 1914-1915 and maybe you get a strong central customs union, with Belgium and Holland being political quasi-independent states wholly within Germany's economic sphere. God knows what happens in the east, likely the Romanov's fall and Germany sets up satellite states in Poland and elsewhere. The Balkans? No clue. I suspect long-term the Germans stop caring what goes on there (and about Austria more generally) as they no longer need them.

The other issue is what a crushed France amounts to. I think it's still an independent nation, but stripped down to a second-class power, likely with some section of the northeast absorbed into the Low Countries customs union, and the loss of much of its colonies.

I agree with snapper that Britain losing the war isn't quite as bad as France losing. The war would be lost on the continent, Britain itself (or the Empire) I don't really see in danger. If German victory over France is complete, I'm not sure Germany sees the point of pressing on against Britain, and I'm not sure Britain has much to fight for any longer.

Of course all this supposes a quick victory. A German victory in 1918 is both easier and harder to project in my mind, because
A) It really seems like once the Germans are stopped on the Marne, there really isn't a clear path to victory
and
B) By the time we get to 1918 does German victory save Germany from revolution? I'm not sure it does. I think McCoy's probably right, victory probably costs Germany much more than it victory cost Britain and France, and I'm not sure it survives it.
   34. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 01:42 PM (#4661501)
exactly, no, what they tend to do is be fanatical about proofreading and formatting – in fact often do better at that than non-dyslexics.


Based on that, I'm going to assume that BTF has very few dyslexics.
   35. PreservedFish Posted: February 24, 2014 at 01:43 PM (#4661503)
Of course I guess the first question is what do we mean by German victory? WWI started with such a mess, that I am not sure even the Germans of the day know what a reasonable (less than total) victory would have been.

What is German victory? One of the main problems being, I'm not sure the Germans really knew what their war aims were.


Whoa. This deserves an expensive, fair-trade sugar cane artisanal soda.
   36. Jesse Barfield's Right Arm Posted: February 24, 2014 at 01:44 PM (#4661505)
Wilson was an idealist. Some of the 14 points were great in terms of self determination, but Wilson was completely outmaneuvered during Versailles.


The problem was not a lack of political skill, it was that the ideals themselves were hypocritical and not applicable for all peoples. Just look at Wilson and Ho Chi Mihn's request for self-determination, or African-Americans in the States.

He had a pretty typical Enlightened view of progress tinged with a really nasty nineteenth-century scientific racism. Not a good combo.
   37. Bitter Mouse Posted: February 24, 2014 at 01:47 PM (#4661508)
Whoa. This deserves an expensive, fair-trade sugar cane artisanal soda.


I am pretty sure I cribbed my statement from him in a previous thread, so if anything I am willing to buy him a coke (or other beverage).
   38. Greg K Posted: February 24, 2014 at 01:50 PM (#4661512)
England is bankrupt, a whole generation is wiped out, and Germany has a gigantic navy that probably seriously crippled the Royal Navy. They're smashed.

One of the difficult things about projecting a German victory post-1914 is the blockade the British had on them was having such a devastating effect. Maybe exploitation of the east for food and resources could have helped with that...but they had that for the last little bit and it hadn't started paying many dividends by 1918. If they could have crippled the British fleet I think they would have done so. I suppose through incompetence the British could have fallen into a trap or something, but they were about as incompetent as one could hope at Jutland and the Germans couldn't achieve anything. I just think it's difficult to imagine a scenario in which the German fleet mortally wounds the British one in the First World War. The British were understandably paranoid about it happening, considering it was their only line of defence, but in order to win the naval war they really just had to keep their stupidity below a colossally historical standard.
   39. Greg K Posted: February 24, 2014 at 01:55 PM (#4661516)
I am pretty sure I cribbed my statement from him in a previous thread, so if anything I am willing to buy him a coke (or other beverage).

This almost seems plausible, except for the fact that it depends on someone actually reading my long-winded, and unasked for paeans to the exciting adventure that was the First World War. Which I find hard to believe.

Though following that logic we'd have to send our drink to some historian who wrote a book a long time ago.

I say enjoy your fizzy beverage! I think I'm about to make a cup of tea anyway.
   40. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: February 24, 2014 at 01:58 PM (#4661519)
Damned near 40 posts in and noone has brought up WAR? Pathetic.
   41. Flack42 Posted: February 24, 2014 at 01:59 PM (#4661522)
I couldn't tell from the story how Wilson calculated the results for his players and League. Can anyone explain? Thanks.
   42. Bitter Mouse Posted: February 24, 2014 at 02:00 PM (#4661524)
I think Europe (and the world) would have been better off had The Great War not been fought, but an war of that size and nature was fairly inevitable I suspect, as a culmination and death knell to the colonial age. But can you have a war like that and not trigger the horror show that was the rest of the 20th, and as noted above end up with a large and growing bloc of nations - the core of which are Western European - that are seemingly joined semi-permanently in peace?
   43. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 02:03 PM (#4661525)
Of course all this supposes a quick victory. A German victory in 1918 is both easier and harder to project in my mind, because
A) It really seems like once the Germans are stopped on the Marne, there really isn't a clear path to victory
and
B) By the time we get to 1918 does German victory save Germany from revolution? I'm not sure it does. I think McCoy's probably right, victory probably costs Germany much more than it victory cost Britain and France, and I'm not sure it survives it.


An interesting time period to look at is 1917. What if the mutinies in the French Army led to full scale collapse; i.e. the troops turn around and go home like they did in Russia?

Germany can clearly dictate a peace to France at that point, and I don't think Britain has any interest in continuing the war at that point.
   44. Swoboda is freedom Posted: February 24, 2014 at 02:15 PM (#4661531)
If the US stays out there are many impacts, including likely less spread of the Spanish Flu

Well this directly impacts me. While my grandfather is fighting in the Army in Europe, his wife and daughter died of the flu. 15 years later, he married my grandmother and has my father. I wouldn't be here without the flu.
   45. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 02:16 PM (#4661532)
What's the best book on Wilson? I find him a fascinating President.
   46. Greg K Posted: February 24, 2014 at 02:19 PM (#4661533)
An interesting time period to look at is 1917. What if the mutinies in the French Army led to full scale collapse; i.e. the troops turn around and go home like they did in Russia?

Germany can clearly dictate a peace to France at that point, and I don't think Britain has any interest in continuing the war at that point.

True, the continuation of the war relied a great deal on the morale of the men to fight it. And to a certain extent that's how it ended, Germany succumbed to increased instances of the mass surrender of troops as much as anything else. I think it's possible France buckles at that point, and it's probably a testament to the resolve of those frogs that they didn't.

I was actually just now thinking about 1905, and what happens if the Tsar falls then, which he very well could have. I assume France scrambles to save their one buttress against Germany by standing behind moderate liberals trying to form a state in Russia. Germany and Austria take advantage of a vacuum in the east, Britain is probably glad to have instability in eastern Europe as the price for no longer having to shell out massive amounts of expenditure on protecting India from Russian expansion in Persia, Afghanistan, and China.

In my mind, probably the greatest cause of the First World War was the incompetence of the post-Bismarck German foreign policy, both in allowing France to escape her diplomatic isolation and in needlessly antagonizing Britain with fleet building. If France's sword is knocked out of her hand by revolution in 1905, I think Germany feels less threatened and isn't the force pressing headlong for war in 1914 that they were.

Though Bitter Mouse is probably right, there's probably no happy fun time resolution to the state of the world at the outset of the 20th century. Though one would have to imagine that there were less bloody outcomes than the one we got.
   47. PreservedFish Posted: February 24, 2014 at 02:20 PM (#4661535)
I couldn't tell from the story how Wilson calculated the results for his players and League. Can anyone explain? Thanks.


It looks like he just imagined them. Although it seems possible that there's a missing system of dice or something.
   48. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 02:31 PM (#4661539)
Well this directly impacts me. While my grandfather is fighting in the Army in Europe, his wife and daughter died of the flu. 15 years later, he married my grandmother and has my father. I wouldn't be here without the flu.

Heh, if your grandparents had sex two hours earlier that day, you wouldn't exist as you.
   49. Morty Causa Posted: February 24, 2014 at 02:35 PM (#4661541)
Wilson is like almost the first bookish scholar type to become President since the time of the Founders. He became President after having been in academia all his adult life, and having had only a mere two years of holding political office. That, in and itself, is fairly astonishing. But no one knew more about the trappings of government from a bookish standpoint than Wilson.

Wilson was born and bred in the South. This colored his view of race, but he did have long-term idealistic goals. And he had a lot of Black support when he ran the first time. He just didn't see those ideals as feasible, and he had real cause for thinking that. For instance, not long before he took office, T. Roosevelt, in his first term, had publicly gone on record as wanted to expand the opportunities of Blacks, even going so far as to inviting prominent black leaders to a White House supper--and the public din was loud and unbearable, and TR backed down. It wasn't just Wilson.

Moreover, he had memory of, at the very least, hearing about battles and killings and burning of towns during the Civil War, thus the issue perhaps had an immediacy for him that it didn't have for others.

He was the first president since maybe John Adams to use the President's room in Congress to directly politic with the legislators. He was very much a hands-on president. He believed in expanding the power and influence of the great American middle, and of decreasing the influence of the very wealthy. He aim to see to it that someone like J.P. Morgan would never again be more powerful in the finances of the country than the country's national officers. Thus, the Federal Reserve and the progressive income tax.

As for foreign affairs, Wilson's League of Nations was not to be this toothless, debating society about ideals. It was to have force. Finally, he, more or less, died for what he believed, embarking on a punishing public speaking tour of the country in hopes of over-coming Senate resistance to the League, which led an already sick WW to an incapacitating final stroke.

EDIT: typos.
   50. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 02:41 PM (#4661542)
He believed in expanding the power and influence of the great American middle, and of decreasing the influence of the very wealthy.

I call bull on that. Like all the Progressives he wanted to transfer power from the very wealthy to an elite of "experts" like himself, who "knew better" than the common man or the business/social elites.
   51. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: February 24, 2014 at 02:42 PM (#4661543)
Heh, if your grandparents had sex two hours earlier that day, you wouldn't exist as you.


How do you know they didn't?
   52. JE (Jason) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 02:42 PM (#4661544)
Damn all of you for embarking on a Great War/Wilson convo on one of my busier days in the past several weeks. :(
   53. Morty Causa Posted: February 24, 2014 at 02:44 PM (#4661546)
50

And I call bull on that bull. That's a truism that amounts to a slander that can be used like a wild card to apply to anyone who wants change. He went specifically on record that he wanted the government, not him personally, to have hegemony over the tycoons. All leaders want to lead.
   54. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 02:51 PM (#4661551)
And I call bull on that bull. That's a truism that amounts to a slander that can be used like a wild card to apply to anyone who wants change. He went specifically on record that he wanted the government, not him personally, to have hegemony over the tycoons. All leaders want to lead.

Government run by the "experts". That was the progressive agenda then, as it is now. The Progressive were not remotely Populist; that was a whole different movement.

A true proponent of "the middle" would want to devolve power back to the states, municipalities, and the people themselves, not simply move the concentration of power from the oligarchs to the Federal technocrats. Example; a Progressive wants to counter monopolies with Federal regulation on prices and business practices. A Populist wants to break the monopoly up into multiple competitive firms.
   55. Swedish Chef Posted: February 24, 2014 at 02:54 PM (#4661553)
A German victory in WWI leads to Armageddon as the secret French atomic program under the Joliot-Curies, that was started because of the restrictions put on the French military forces in the peace treaty, pays off in the 30's.
   56. Morty Causa Posted: February 24, 2014 at 02:56 PM (#4661554)
54

So what? You will have government, or de factor substitute like J. P. Morgan, and that government will be run by somebody. Rather than quibble over stuff like that, concentrate on a process that is fair and open, and a government that can be more responsive to a greater number. Saying that the private sector can be like that avoids the crux: that's not the purpose or function of the private sector. That's reserved for government.
   57. Morty Causa Posted: February 24, 2014 at 02:58 PM (#4661557)
As for WWI, Germany was treated much too kindly, as was the South after the Civil War.
   58. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 03:01 PM (#4661560)

WWI was just a terrible idea for the US to get involved in. You don't have the excuse of WW2 where the side we were fighting against was truly evil.


Sorry, I strongly disagree. Of course one can get into the 'who was eviler' argument but I think the Wilhelmine government was a very nasty piece of work. Militaristic and warmongering even by early 20th-century standards. Massacres of civilians, check. Use of slave labor, check. Their war aims included annexation of eastern Europe, ethnically cleansing the population, and replacing them with German settlers. Everything Hitler was going for save the Einsatzgruppen, and I think those would have come in due course. There's a reason that the early membership of the Nazi party included heavy representation of Germany's former officer corps.

No, German militarism needed to be smashed. We failed to do so in WWI, so we had to do it again. It would have been better and cheaper overall if the US had gone in earlier.
   59. Traderdave Posted: February 24, 2014 at 03:01 PM (#4661561)
If the Germans had won in the West, it's easy to envision a bitter nationalist-based fascism arising in France to Right that Wrong.

And if Germany had won in the West, they'd still have lost the peace in the East. The instability of a crumbling Russia and a severely weakened Austria would not have been positive for German development.

   60. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 03:05 PM (#4661563)
So what? You will have government, or de factor substitute like J. P. Morgan, and that government will be run by somebody. Rather than quibble over stuff like that, concentrate on a process that is fair and open, and a government that can be more responsive to a greater number. Saying that the private sector can be like that avoids the crux: that's not the purpose or function of the private sector. That's reserved for government.

I disagree that the only alternatives are unbridled oligarchy or overarching central gov't.
   61. Bitter Mouse Posted: February 24, 2014 at 03:12 PM (#4661570)
As for WWI, Germany was treated much too kindly, as was the South after the Civil War.


it is not kind versus harsh, it is what you are trying to accomplish. Nothing was served by economically attacking Germany post WWI, in fact compare that to the Marshall Plan. You need to help them economically and re-educate them politically, not attack them economically and act all surprised when the next generation is pissed off about it. Being harsher does not solve the pissed off problem (see the Holy Land for one of many examples of harsh bearing its own bitter fruit).
   62. Morty Causa Posted: February 24, 2014 at 03:13 PM (#4661572)


60

Me, too.
   63. Swoboda is freedom Posted: February 24, 2014 at 03:14 PM (#4661573)
Heh, if your grandparents had sex two hours earlier that day, you wouldn't exist as you.

How do you know they didn't?


Because they were Irish. They were lucky to have sex once a year.
   64. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 03:15 PM (#4661574)
As for WWI, Germany was treated much too kindly, as was the South after the Civil War.

It's really hard to claim the banner of enlightened liberalism, and go around enforcing Carthaginian peaces.

The people of Germany were no more guilty for WW1 than the people of France or the UK. If you want to execute a few war leaders, maybe you can justify it. Oppressing a whole people because their leaders started a war is just as unjust as the original militarism.

The Soviet atrocities committed in 1945 Germany are every bit as evil as the German atrocities committed in the USSR. The US/UK bombing of purely civilian targets was every bit as evil as the German Blitz. Being attacked doesn't absolve you from the rules of a decent society.
   65. Morty Causa Posted: February 24, 2014 at 03:16 PM (#4661575)
58:

All that is true. Moreover, German imperialism gave evidence of wanting to encroach on our domain in North America.
   66. Mefisto Posted: February 24, 2014 at 03:17 PM (#4661577)
The Progressive were not remotely Populist; that was a whole different movement.


Different movements, sure. But the Progressives borrowed a great deal from the Populists, including the initiative and referendum. William Allen White once claimed that a Progressive was a Populist who had shaved his whiskers, washed his shirt, and put on a derby hat.


   67. Mefisto Posted: February 24, 2014 at 03:18 PM (#4661579)
The people of Germany were no more guilty for WW1 than the people of France or the UK.


Which is to say, very guilty indeed. The citizens of all those nations cheered the war and supported it heavily at the beginning.
   68. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 03:21 PM (#4661582)
Which is to say, very guilty indeed. The citizens of all those nations cheered the war and supported it heavily at the beginning.

Right, so why should they be harshly punished for doing exactly what everyone else did?

You can't condemn Germany for wanting to turn France and the low countries into client states, and then advocate impoverishing/enslaving the Germans after they lose.
   69. Mefisto Posted: February 24, 2014 at 03:42 PM (#4661592)
Right, so why should they be harshly punished for doing exactly what everyone else did?


Because Germany started the war; everyone else just joined it.
   70. AROM Posted: February 24, 2014 at 03:44 PM (#4661593)
All that is true. Moreover, German imperialism gave evidence of wanting to encroach on our domain in North America.


I want a car with a hyperdrive. Doesn't mean that want should be taken seriously. They were sort of allied with Mexico. But even after we send troops across the sea, Mexico wisely never tried attacking us. If they had it's hard to see the cost even approaching the 116,000 US soldiers killed in Europe.
   71. Bitter Mouse Posted: February 24, 2014 at 03:49 PM (#4661598)
Which is to say, very guilty indeed. The citizens of all those nations cheered the war and supported it heavily at the beginning.


People love heroes and villains and at the end of the story the heroes win and the villains are are punished. Not really how the world actually works, but darn if that is not a really strong human impulse.
   72. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 03:50 PM (#4661599)
Because Germany started the war; everyone else just joined it.

Not true, really. You could equally say Russia started the war by mobilizing first, and refusing to let Austria beat down the Serbs.

Russia's pan-Slavism is as much to blame for WW1 as Germany's militarism.
   73. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 03:58 PM (#4661603)
People love heroes and villains and at the end of the story the heroes win and the villains are are punished. Not really how the world actually works, but darn if that is not a really strong human impulse.

Yes. And it goes waaaaay back to the Ancient Greek historians demonizing the Persians. It takes a lot of stretching to view the Spartans as "good guys". I'd certainly rather live under Persian rule than Spartan rule.

People have a very distorted view of history. In most conflicts there are no good guys and no bad guys, just competing interests.
   74. Greg K Posted: February 24, 2014 at 04:44 PM (#4661622)
Because Germany started the war; everyone else just joined it.

That's quite a simplification. As I argued upthread, I think probably the most important factor was Germany's shoddy foreign policy in 1890-1914 leaving them in a weak position where they felt they had to make something happen before the Russian industrial behemoth kicked into action. But they weren't the only ones who ignored peaceful resolutions to the July Crisis, or actively welcomed war.

And even assuming such a reading is true, you don't restructure Europe based on making sure the villains get what they deserve. That being said, Versailles was obviously a flawed resolution. You were dealing with (understandable) popular demands from the victorious nations, especially France, that Germany pay for the suffering they had gone through, everyone and their uncle (including the Germans) using Wilson's self-determination idealism to justify their own purposes, and the attempt to balance such claims against the reality of eastern Europe. Which "nation" gets which village? Not to mention the fact that ongoing fighting in places like Poland and Russia made one day's agreements irrelevant by the time you met the next morning. And perhaps a massive and overlooked failure - totally ignoring delegations from Arabia, Southeast Asia, and Japan (an independent nation, if not legitimate power, who was actually a useful ally during the war).

I think the harsh/lenient debate over Versailles largely misses the point (to again borrow from Bitter Mouse here). No matter what it's resolutions, the Treaty of Versailles was going to always be a rallying point for Germans looking for revenge. The only question was what to do with the German state afterwards. I do think, at least through the 20s, reconciliation between Germany and the rest of western Europe was possible.

I think the only way you could have "destroyed" Germany at Versailles (as in make it impossible for Germany to again act as a power rather than trying to reincorporate a reformed Germany into the European system) would be to partition it into its pre-Bismarckian units. I'm just not sure there was the political will to enforce that among the allies.
   75. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 04:50 PM (#4661623)
I think the only way you could have "destroyed" Germany at Versailles (as in make it impossible for Germany to again act as a power rather than trying to reincorporate a reformed Germany into the European system) would be to partition it into its pre-Bismarckian units. I'm just not sure there was the political will to enforce that among the allies.

Right, but if you did this, you'd open a major power vacuum in Central Europe. Only way it works is if you partition Russia too; at least separate Ukraine, and Belorussia.
   76. Greg K Posted: February 24, 2014 at 04:57 PM (#4661628)
Right, but if you did this, you'd open a major power vacuum in Central Europe. Only way it works is if you partition Russia too; at least separate Ukraine, and Belorussia.

That is the other issue.

I'd be inclined to think the likeliest path to success was reparations, then for France and Britain to strive like their lives depended on it (which they more or less did) that liberal democracy survived in Germany. It was never going to be a piece of cake, but I think the Depression pretty much sunk that.
   77. Mefisto Posted: February 24, 2014 at 05:02 PM (#4661629)
Not true, really. You could equally say Russia started the war by mobilizing first, and refusing to let Austria beat down the Serbs.


Yes, it is true. It's not close.

And even assuming such a reading is true, you don't restructure Europe based on making sure the villains get what they deserve.


Well, sometimes you do (WWII) and sometimes you don't or shouldn't (WWI). Snapper's original claim was that it was unfair to punish the German people because their leaders took them into war. I was reacting to that and pointing out that the German people enthusiastically supported the war; there's no argument of "unfairness" here. But Versailles was unwise, regardless of how "fair" it was. As Churchill once said, "never maltreat your enemies by halves". The Allies should have treated Germany like Carthage or they should have rebuilt things along the lines of post-WWII. They managed instead to hit the sweet spot of stupid.
   78. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 05:04 PM (#4661630)
Well, sometimes you do (WWII)

It's hard to claim that when your ally was as big a villain as your enemy.
   79. Greg K Posted: February 24, 2014 at 05:15 PM (#4661634)
But Versailles was unwise, regardless of how "fair" it was. As Churchill once said, "never maltreat your enemies by halves". The Allies should have treated Germany like Carthage or they should have rebuilt things along the lines of post-WWII. They managed instead to hit the sweet spot of stupid.

I'd be more inclined to think the failure of Versailles wasn't in 1919, but in the 1920s when disunity among the allies prevented them from enforcing the treaty, giving a regime like Hitler's an opportunity. A strong, united Britain and France, could have prevented the slow erosion of the treaty over the 20s and 30s. The exclusion of Japan and general dismissal of Italy at Versailles came in to play too over that time. Stevenson quotes Clemenceau on this, speaking to French politicians, "The Treaty will be what you make of it".
   80. Mefisto Posted: February 24, 2014 at 05:36 PM (#4661646)
I'd be more inclined to think the failure of Versailles wasn't in 1919, but in the 1920s when disunity among the allies prevented them from enforcing the treaty


Agreed, though it's not clear what they would have had to do to enforce it. The Germans were pretty determined not to pay any reparations. Perhaps a better economy, especially in Britain and Germany, would have helped. Along with some inflation.
   81. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 06:34 PM (#4661689)

The Soviet atrocities committed in 1945 Germany are every bit as evil as the German atrocities committed in the USSR.


And yet the German atrocities committed in 1945 Germany are every bit as evil as the Soviet atrocities committed in 1945 Germany.

So the Nazis still come out 'ahead'.


Agreed, though it's not clear what they would have had to do to enforce it. The Germans were pretty determined not to pay any reparations.


The issue with reparations is: to pay reparations Germany needs money. To get money, it must export like crazy. To export like crazy means building up its economy.

Reparations just make Germany more of an economic power in the long run. And weaken the Allied economies in the bargain, because they can't compete with cheap German imports.
   82. haggard Posted: February 24, 2014 at 06:49 PM (#4661697)
Under any of these alternate scenarios its
Unlikely that Frank Tanana would have been born.
   83. Swedish Chef Posted: February 24, 2014 at 06:59 PM (#4661704)
Reparations just make Germany more of an economic power in the long run. And weaken the Allied economies in the bargain, because they can't compete with cheap German imports.

Of course they can, because they have to work hard themselves to pay off 10 billion dollars of war loans from their ally that the US can't bring itself to write off.
   84. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 07:11 PM (#4661713)
And yet the German atrocities committed in 1945 Germany are every bit as evil as the Soviet atrocities committed in 1945 Germany.

So the Nazis still come out 'ahead'.


Well, the Soviet atrocities committed in 1945 Soviet Union were every bit as evil as the Nazi atrocities committed in Germany in 1945, so it's still a tie.
   85. Swedish Chef Posted: February 24, 2014 at 07:22 PM (#4661720)

Well, the Soviet atrocities committed in 1945 Soviet Union were every bit as evil as the Nazi atrocities committed in Germany in 1945, so it's still a tie.


The Soviets didn't start a world war. Hitler wins.
   86. Publius Publicola Posted: February 24, 2014 at 07:31 PM (#4661724)
and the cultural affinity of the WASP upper class.


Germans are WASPs too.
   87. Traderdave Posted: February 24, 2014 at 07:38 PM (#4661726)
Germany is roughly evenly split btw Catholic & Protestant
   88. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 07:38 PM (#4661727)
The Soviets didn't start a world war. Hitler wins.

Do you forget who was Hitler's ally and invaded Poland along with him? Still tied.
   89. Mefisto Posted: February 24, 2014 at 07:43 PM (#4661728)
The Soviet Union was not Hitler's "ally". The Pact was a Non-Aggression Pact. It didn't require the Soviets to join Hitler's further military adventures. It was Hitler alone who invaded Denmark, Norway, Holland, Belgium, France, and all of southeastern Europe.
   90. Publius Publicola Posted: February 24, 2014 at 07:47 PM (#4661729)
I'm inclined to agree with McCoy. If Germany wins WWI (and that means Austria-Hungary and the Ottomans win as well), I don't think we avoid WWII. Britain and France instead of Germany will then be the ones wanting to get some back. The Prussian "blood and iron" cultural philosophy would also have been validated. Stalin would still be around.

The only difference I see is Britain and France, instead of trying to avoid war, break the Versailles Treaty and arm to the gills. Britain would never have had to admit defeat because Germany wouldn't have had the means to invade. The armistice negotiations would have been a mess and Britain would probably have found some pretext for blockading Germany with her navy, and start the whole thing. Maybe not right away but long enough to get loaded for bear and summon the full resources of the empire. They also would be much quicker to bring in the Russians. Japan and Italy? Maybe Japan goes fascist anyway but what good would that have done them? They still would have invaded China and that still would have set them up for a showdown with the US, a showdown that they would have to fight alone. Italy, I don't know. They were kind of schizo. They had interests in Africa that Britain and France were preventing them from expanding upon. But they also had border issues with the Austro-Hungarians.

And what of the Ottomans? Their Empire was rotting from within. Even if they won, they lost. They would have been embroiled with a half dozen rebellions and might have asked the Germans to help them out, enraging Britain, Russia and France even more. A-H would have had something similar to deal with.

I think WWII happens anyway, even if the tumblers don't fall in the same sequence.

No matter what, nobody was going to accept Germany as the dominant continental power in Europe.
   91. Publius Publicola Posted: February 24, 2014 at 07:54 PM (#4661733)
I do think, at least through the 20s, reconciliation between Germany and the rest of western Europe was possible.


Greg, I don't think so. Most Germans felt they didn't lose, that they were betrayed by their government and their military. Germans knew they were more powerful than France, and more powerful than Russia, and that they deserved to be the major continental power. As long as they thought that, and that militarily establishing their cred was on the table, reconciliation was impossible. Something momentous had to happen. Somebody had to be crushed. As it turned out, that happened to be the Germans.
   92. Swedish Chef Posted: February 24, 2014 at 08:01 PM (#4661738)
Do you forget who was Hitler's ally and invaded Poland along with him? Still tied.

Are you saying that it wasn't Germany that started WWII? That's pretty revisionist.

You are glossing over the differences between Germany's extermination policies and the Terror in the USSR. In a ranking of crimes one would think that aiming for and trying to kill everybody in a whole culture would be the ultimate evil. The Soviet terror never had such goals.
   93. AndrewJ Posted: February 24, 2014 at 08:07 PM (#4661740)
Thorn's post is like writing baseball history with lightning.
   94. Publius Publicola Posted: February 24, 2014 at 08:08 PM (#4661741)
Germany and Russia were never allies. They signed a non-agression pact so they could disect Poland without interference from one another other and to buy time until a betrayal of the treaty was possible.
   95. Zach Posted: February 24, 2014 at 08:13 PM (#4661744)
The trouble with counterfactual replayings of WWI and WWII is the question of What Germany Wants. If they want something like the current EU, it's hard to see why they would have to go to war to get it. If they want to take over French or English colonies, they probably have to beat both countries (it's hard to see England letting the dominant Continental power set up a large Colonial system). If they want to set up an intra-European empire, they have to beat all comers.

I still think the best play for pre-WWI Germany is to make a strong alliance with Austria-Hungary and Poland, then try really hard not to go to war with anyone. As the dominant Continental power, they need to sit and wait for things to come to them. The western powers have their own troubles with the colonial system, and the eastern powers aren't very stable. Since Germany has interior lines in Europe, sooner or later anybody who wants something is going to have to come to them and ask for it.
   96. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 08:13 PM (#4661745)
Are you saying that it wasn't Germany that started WWII? That's pretty revisionist.

You are glossing over the differences between Germany's extermination policies and the Terror in the USSR. In a ranking of crimes one would think that aiming for and trying to kill everybody in a whole culture would be the ultimate evil. The Soviet terror never had such goals.


No. I'm just saying they did so with the full connivance of the USSR. Stalin was Hitler's partner in crime, and was supplying war materiel to Germany until the very day Barbarossa launched.

There's no moral difference between a kulak starved to death in the Ukraine, or a zek worked to death in a lead mine (because he told a joke about Stalin), or a Polish officer executed in the Katyn forest and a Jew gassed at Auschwitz.

Killing innocent people for their class or their political views is every bit as evil as killing them for their race or religion. 10 million dead Ukrainians really didn't care that Stalin didn't want to wipe out their nation; they watched their families die just as sure as if they were gassed or shot it the head.

Likewise, the other 6 million victims of Hitler (be they Gypsy, homosexuals, socialists, Polish nationalists, the mentally retarded, etc.) are not any less in their victimhood because they weren't part of an attempt at racial extermination.

Any calculus that views the murder of one innocent person as worse than the murder of another equally innocent person, diminishes the humanity of the 2nd person.

   97. Swedish Chef Posted: February 24, 2014 at 08:31 PM (#4661749)
Likewise, the other 6 million victims of Hitler (be they Gypsy, homosexuals, socialists, Polish nationalists, the mentally retarded, etc.) are not any less in their victimhood because they weren't part of an attempt at racial extermination.


Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, as the aggressor he's responsible for all the 50 million Soviet war dead. He handily wins all your body count metrics.
   98. Publius Publicola Posted: February 24, 2014 at 08:44 PM (#4661752)
If they want to set up an intra-European empire, they have to beat all comers.


This is probably the closest thing they wanted of the choices you list. And they actually tried to beat all comers! At one point or other, they battled Britain (and its commonwealth territories), France (and its colonies), Russia, Holland Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy, the US, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Greece, Malta, Canada, Albania, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, China, Colombia, Cuba, Cyprus, Norway, El Salvador, Guatamala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Mexico. Some minor countries there but most of the worlds heavy hitters too. By 1942, they were completely surrounded by enemies.
   99. esseff Posted: February 24, 2014 at 08:44 PM (#4661753)
What's the best book on Wilson? I find him a fascinating President.


I think I'll start with the one referenced in #12.

Also, just so we don't miss the forest for the trees, this would be a remarkably exciting find re: early baseball even if the kid's name wasn't Woodrow Wilson.
   100. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: February 24, 2014 at 08:47 PM (#4661755)
Agreed, ess eff
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