The First World War has been seen as a catalyst which brought together the social, economic and political forces which were to dominate the first half of the twentieth century. There was an acceleration of government intervention in the liberal democracies, a greater awareness of the importance of public opinion in the political process, a disruption of traditional trade patterns, and a test of the political, social and military leadership of the ruling groups in all societies. For the first time the populations of all belligerent countries were actively involved in the long-drawn-out conflict. War, to use a famous adjective, became ‘total’.
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