An Improbable War?: The Outbreak of World War I and European Political Culture Before 1914

Berghahn Books
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...outstanding scholarly analyses...These essays comprise a valuable addition to the never-ending debate on the causes of the Great War. Stand To! The Journal of the Western Front Association

...vigorously and thoughtfully renews one of the great, enduring questions of twentieth-century European and world history. This is a landmark book that sums up the state of research and suggests fruitful possibilities for going forward. German Studies Review

The value of the book is in the chapters, all of which are thoughtful and well argued. The International History Review

Like any provocative book, this one forced me to rethink some of my historiographical assumptions. Bryan Ganaway, College of Charleston

The First World War has been described as the "primordial catastrophe of the twentieth century." Arguably, Italian Fascism, German National Socialism and Soviet Leninism and Stalinism would not have emerged without the cultural and political shock of World War I. The question why this catastrophe happened therefore preoccupies historians to this day. The focus of this volume is not on the consequences, but rather on the connection between the Great War and the long 19th century, the short- and long-term causes of World War I. This approach results in the questioning of many received ideas about the war's causes, especially the notion of "inevitability."

Holger Afflerbach specializes in 19th- and 20th- Century German history; international relations; military history, particularly World War I and World War II, as well as Austrian and Italian history and has written widely on these topics. He is teaching at the University of Leeds.

David Stevenson is Stevenson Professor of International History at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He specializes in the history of international relations in Europe since c.1900, with particular reference to the World War I. His recent publications include Armaments and the Coming of War: Europe, 1904-1914 (Oxford, 1996), Cataclysm: The First World War as Political Tragedy (New York, 2004) and With Our Backs to the Wall: Victory and Defeat in 1918 (Allen Lane, 2011)

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About the author

Holger Afflerbach specializes in 19th- and 20th- Century German history; international relations; military history,particularly World War I and World War II, as well as Austrian and Italian history and has written widely on these topics. He is teaching at the University of Leeds.

David Stevenson is Stevenson Professor of International History at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He specializes in the history of international relations in Europe since c.1900, with particular reference to the World War I. His recent publications include Armaments and the Coming of War: Europe, 1904-1914 (Oxford, 1996), Cataclysm: The First World War as Political Tragedy (New York, 2004) amd With Our Backs to the Wall: Victory and Defeat in 1918 (Allen Lane, 2011)
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Additional Information

Publisher
Berghahn Books
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Published on
Dec 31, 2012
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Pages
365
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ISBN
9780857453105
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Europe / General
History / Europe / Western
History / General
History / Military / World War I
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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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
Barbara W. Tuchman—the acclaimed author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning classic The Guns of August—once again marshals her gift for character, history, and sparkling prose to compose an astonishing portrait of medieval Europe.
 
The fourteenth century reflects two contradictory images: on the one hand, a glittering age of crusades, cathedrals, and chivalry; on the other, a world plunged into chaos and spiritual agony. In this revelatory work, Barbara W. Tuchman examines not only the great rhythms of history but the grain and texture of domestic life: what childhood was like; what marriage meant; how money, taxes, and war dominated the lives of serf, noble, and clergy alike. Granting her subjects their loyalties, treacheries, and guilty passions, Tuchman re-creates the lives of proud cardinals, university scholars, grocers and clerks, saints and mystics, lawyers and mercenaries, and, dominating all, the knight—in all his valor and “furious follies,” a “terrible worm in an iron cocoon.”
 
Praise for A Distant Mirror
 
“Beautifully written, careful and thorough in its scholarship . . . What Ms. Tuchman does superbly is to tell how it was. . . . No one has ever done this better.”—The New York Review of Books
 
“A beautiful, extraordinary book . . . Tuchman at the top of her powers . . . She has done nothing finer.”—The Wall Street Journal
 
“Wise, witty, and wonderful . . . a great book, in a great historical tradition.”—Commentary

NOTE: This edition does not include color images.
1917 was a year of calamitous events, and one of pivotal importance in the development of the First World War. In 1917: War, Peace, and Revolution, leading historian of World War One, David Stevenson, examines this crucial year in context and illuminates the century that followed. He shows how in this one year the war was transformed, but also what drove the conflict onwards and how it continued to escalate. Two developments in particular — the Russian Revolution and American intervention — had worldwide repercussions. Offering a close examination of the key decisions, David Stevenson considers Germany's campaign of 'unrestricted' submarine warfare, America's declaration of war in response, and Britain's frustration of German strategy by adopting the convoy system, as well as why (paradoxically) the military and political stalemate in Europe persisted. Focusing on the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, on the disastrous spring offensive that plunged the French army into mutiny, on the summer attacks that undermined the moderate Provisional Government in Russia and exposed Italy to national humiliation at Caporetto, and on the British decision for the ill-fated Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele), 1917 offers a truly international understanding of events. The failed attempts to end the war by negotiation further clarify the underlying forces that kept it going. David Stevenson also analyses the global consequences of the year's developments, showing how countries such as Brazil and China joined the belligerents, Britain offered 'responsible government' to India, and the Allies promised a Jewish national home in Palestine. Blending political and military history, and moving from capital to capital and between the cabinet chamber and the battle front, the book highlights the often tumultuous debates through which leaders entered and escalated the war, and the paradox that continued fighting could be justified as the shortest road towards regaining peace.
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