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July Crisis: The World's Descent into War, Summer 1914 Paperback – 2014


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  • Paperback
  • ASIN: B00LABQLHE
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,291,774 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Arnold Rosen on 16 July 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the first book that is written by a historian of diplomatic history that has emerged from the plethora of books about the July crisis 1914. Surprisingly Professor Otte draws out the details and the obscure documents and refrains from being judgmental on areas where the judgments have flow fast and furious. The surprises include the Kaiser. he cannot again be regarded as a war monger but a blunderer but a man who was led by the head of the German foreign service Jagow, and the chancellor Bethmann Hollweg. Two men emerge who had they been listened to in Vienna and Berlin would have prevented any third Balkan War turning into the First World War. They were the Austrian and German ambassadors in London. The Russians and the French emerge as at least a significant part of the descent into war.

This is a book to give a proper deep understanding. It is a slow read. It is a good one.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Alan Paton on 2 Jun. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is an outstanding book. Certainly, as measured by the number of bookmarks I made "I didn't know that", "that's interesting", "I must read that again" ... it warrants that description.

It is a narrative of what happened and why, from the plotting of the Archduke's assassination to Britain's declaration of war on Germany on the 4 August and it divides that fraught period into helpful sub-divisions and managers very well the difficult task of describing so much going on in parallel without confusing or losing the reader. The author also has the knack of selecting just the right bit from the many telegrams, diaries and other primary sources he quotes.

It is a good read throughout. I personally found the account of how the Austro-Hungarians reacted, got Tisza, the Hungarian prime minister, to fall into line, and made their decisions, especially informative and convincing. There is neat balance of facts and interpretation.

There is also plenty to argue with. Jagow is given a much stronger role than I expected even to the extent of giving the Austro-Hungarians a "second blank cheque" seemingly without Bethmann's approval or knowledge. Jagow and Stumm are credited with undermining the Kaiser's "halt in Belgrade" proposal without reference to Bethmann when it was forwarded to Vienna but it seems to me most unlikely that Bethmann did not see and fully approve such an important communication going out over his signature. And, it was the point where Germany's plans were beginning to unravel

The roles of two ambassadors, Paleologue the French ambassador in St Petersburg, and especially Tschirschky the German ambassador in Vienna, while not over played, are shown to be most emphatically negative, pushing in the direction of war.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER on 11 July 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
In the midst of a deluge of WW1 books, this offers a fresh re-examination of the diplomatic sources from the fatal month of July 1914. Taking a panoramic view encompassing Vienna, Berlin and St.Petersburg as well as London, this explores the decisions taken by individuals in the moment of crisis and without the benefit of foresight.

Otte's book is not for the casual reader wanting a general overview of the lead up to war. It's good on the multiple 'perceptions, misperceptions and deliberate deceptions', and thus strives to find the role of individual agency in the move to war, rather than locating its causes in systemic forces.

Otte isn't the most elegant of writers but this is an interesting read for anyone with a fairly informed prior knowledge of the literature on the causes of the war.

(This review is from an ARC courtesy of the publisher)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By D P Walker on 15 Dec. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an absolutely excellent book, focusing on the precise events which happened between assassination of Franz Ferdinand and the outbreak of war, including bringing out precisely who did what - and what specific actions civil servants / officials advised - in that key period. Completely gripping and unputdownable..
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Strephon on 5 Sept. 2014
Format: Hardcover
I think this is the clearest and most detailed book I have read concerning the actions and events in the few weeks before the outbreak of WW1. An excellent read.
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