Tuesday, April 7, 2009
38. The Zimmermann Telegram
Rated 4 Stars
Well I think I now know all I ever need or want to know about how WWI started and how the U.S. came to be involved after dragging it's feet for 4 years.
The average person thinks that it was the sinking of the Lusitania that brought the United States into World War I. Not so! In this slim volume that reads like a whodunnit, Barbara Tuchman reveals the little known secret of The Zimmerman Telegram. Basically, Germany wanted to keep the U.S. and its industrial might out of the European conflict by convincing Mexico and Japan to attack the U.S. Germany even promised Mexico it would get back Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona! What the Germans didn't know is that as soon as war was declared, the first thing the British did was cut Germany's transatlantic cable. All telegrams or telephone calls to North America had to travel over Britain's cable. And the British intercepted every telegram out of Germany. Even though the Zimmerman telegram was sent in code, it was broken. But the shrewd British held onto it, not revealing its contents until it was absolutely necessary, and in such a way that they didn't have to reveal that they were intercepting German messages! Brilliant! When the New York Times published the telegram in 1917, it was but a short time until pacifist Woodrow Wilson got a declaration of war from Congress, and the U.S. began sending troops "over there." A great read!