Nearly a century has passed since the outbreak of World War I, yet as military historian Hew Strachan argues in this brilliant and authoritative new book, the legacy of the “war to end all wars” is with us still. The First World War was a truly global conflict from the start, with many of the most decisive battles fought in or directly affecting the Balkans, Africa, and the Ottoman Empire. Even more than World War II, the First World War continues to shape the politics and international relations of our world, especially in hot spots like the Middle East and the Balkans.
Strachan has done a masterful job of reexamining the causes, the major campaigns, and the consequences of the First World War, compressing a lifetime of knowledge into a single definitive volume tailored for the general reader. Written in crisp, compelling prose and enlivened with extraordinarily vivid photographs and detailed maps, The First World War re-creates this world-altering conflict both on and off the battlefield—the clash of ideologies between the colonial powers at the center of the war, the social and economic unrest that swept Europe both before and after, the military strategies employed with stunning success and tragic failure in the various theaters of war, the terms of peace and why it didn’t last.
Drawing on material culled from many countries, Strachan offers a fresh, clear-sighted perspective on how the war not only redrew the map of the world but also set in motion the most dangerous conflicts of today. Deeply learned, powerfully written, and soon to be released with a new introduction that commemorates the hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of the war, The First World War remains a landmark of contemporary history.
The Royal Navy and the German Threat 1901-1914: Admiralty Plans to Protect British Trade in a War Against Germany
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The New York Times Book Review • The Economist • The Christian Science Monitor • Bloomberg Businessweek • The Globe and Mail
From the bestselling and award-winning author of Paris 1919 comes a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction, a fascinating portrait of Europe from 1900 up to the outbreak of World War I.
The century since the end of the Napoleonic wars had been the most peaceful era Europe had known since the fall of the Roman Empire. In the first years of the twentieth century, Europe believed it was marching to a golden, happy, and prosperous future. But instead, complex personalities and rivalries, colonialism and ethnic nationalisms, and shifting alliances helped to bring about the failure of the long peace and the outbreak of a war that transformed Europe and the world.
The War That Ended Peace brings vividly to life the military leaders, politicians, diplomats, bankers, and the extended, interrelated family of crowned heads across Europe who failed to stop the descent into war: in Germany, the mercurial Kaiser Wilhelm II and the chief of the German general staff, Von Moltke the Younger; in Austria-Hungary, Emperor Franz Joseph, a man who tried, through sheer hard work, to stave off the coming chaos in his empire; in Russia, Tsar Nicholas II and his wife; in Britain, King Edward VII, Prime Minister Herbert Asquith, and British admiral Jacky Fisher, the fierce advocate of naval reform who entered into the arms race with Germany that pushed the continent toward confrontation on land and sea.
There are the would-be peacemakers as well, among them prophets of the horrors of future wars whose warnings went unheeded: Alfred Nobel, who donated his fortune to the cause of international understanding, and Bertha von Suttner, a writer and activist who was the first woman awarded Nobel’s new Peace Prize. Here too we meet the urbane and cosmopolitan Count Harry Kessler, who noticed many of the early signs that something was stirring in Europe; the young Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty and a rising figure in British politics; Madame Caillaux, who shot a man who might have been a force for peace; and more. With indelible portraits, MacMillan shows how the fateful decisions of a few powerful people changed the course of history.
Taut, suspenseful, and impossible to put down, The War That Ended Peace is also a wise cautionary reminder of how wars happen in spite of the near-universal desire to keep the peace. Destined to become a classic in the tradition of Barbara Tuchman’s The Guns of August, The War That Ended Peace enriches our understanding of one of the defining periods and events of the twentieth century.
Praise for The War That Ended Peace
“Magnificent . . . The War That Ended Peace will certainly rank among the best books of the centennial crop.”—The Economist
“Superb.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Masterly . . . marvelous . . . Those looking to understand why World War I happened will have a hard time finding a better place to start.”—The Christian Science Monitor
“The debate over the war’s origins has raged for years. Ms. MacMillan’s explanation goes straight to the heart of political fallibility. . . . Elegantly written, with wonderful character sketches of the key players, this is a book to be treasured.”—The Wall Street Journal
“A magisterial 600-page panorama.”—Christopher Clark, London Review of Books
Germany's Defeat in the First World War: The Lost Battles and Reckless Gambles That Brought Down the Second Reich
Much has been written about the causes for the outbreak of World War I and the ways in which the war was fought, but few historians have tackled the reasons why the Germans, who appeared on the surface to be winning for most of the war, ultimately lost. This book, in contrast, presents an in-depth examination of the complex interplay of factors—social, cultural, military, economic, and diplomatic—that led to Germany's defeat.
The highly readable work begins with an examination of the strengths and weaknesses of the two coalitions and points out how the balance of forces was clearly on the side of the Entente in a long and drawn-out war. The work then probes the German plan to win the war quickly and the resulting campaigns of August and September 1914 that culminated in the devastating defeat in the First Battle of the Marne. Subsequent chapters discuss the critical factors and decisions that led to Germany's loss, including the British naval blockade, the role of economic factors in maintaining a consensus for war, and the social impact of material deprivation.
The History of World War I series recounts the battles and campaigns that took place during the 'Great War'. From the Falkland Islands to the lakes of Africa, across the Eastern and Western Fronts, to the former German colonies in the Pacific, the World War I series provides a six-volume history of the battles and campaigns that raged on land, at sea and in the air.
The struggle for naval supremacy helped create the conditions for the outbreak of World War I. After the coronation of Kaiser Wilhelm II, Germany's ambitions for its 'place in the sun' – in other words a greater influence in world affairs – sidelined the traditional and familiar rivalry between France and the British Empire.
The naval arms race inspired by HMS Dreadnought may have captured the headlines, but the opening stages of the naval war were dominated by the threat from German cruisers stationed outside European waters, until they were hunted down and sunk by the Royal Navy, notably at the Battle of the Falkland Islands in 1914.
Germany switched its focus to the U-boat, seeing it as a weapon capable of winning the war by starving Britain into surrender. Unrestricted submarine warfare led to the sinking of millions of tons of shipping, but it would also force the USA to enter the war on the Allied side in 1917.
In the Mediterranean, the French fleet took the lead, while Austria-Hungary supported German actions. The Allied attempt in 1915 to use maritime power to break the strategic deadlock with an amphibious operation in the Dardanelles ultimately failed, although Allied sea power helped sustain the successful campaigns against the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East.
What would prove to be the decisive naval engagement of the war took place in 1916 at the Battle of Jutland. Whilst the clash itself was inconclusive, the German High Seas Fleet would be all but confined to port for the rest of the war, handing the initiative to the Royal Navy. The resultant command of the seas allowed the Allies to carry fresh American armies and much-needed supplies to Europe in 1917.
However, victory for the Allies was ultimately delivered by the naval economic blockade. By preventing the import of war materials and food, the fighting power and morale of the German armed forces was weakened. It was the mutiny of the High Seas Fleet in October 1918 that prompted the German Revolution and the subsequent abdication of the Kaiser.
With the aid of over 300 black and white and colour photographs, complemented by full-colour maps, Naval Warfare provides a detailed guide to the background and conduct of World War I naval operations, describing the struggle to win control of the high seas around the globe.