AT THE start of the 20th century people across the world were promised an era of unparalleled peace and prosperity. The growth of capitalism and international trade were supposed to bring order and affluence. But the opposite was true. The Great Powers' struggle for markets and influence brought more conflict-and the wars were more terrible than before. Wars between Russia and Japan, and in the Balkans, were followed by the most bloody war in history up to that point-the First World War.
It was the result of economic and territorial conflict between the major competing European powers. By the end of the war ten million were dead. France lost one in five males of fighting age, Germany one in eight. Over one million men died in the four month Battle of the Somme.