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The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914
 
 

The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 [Kindle Edition]

Christopher Clark
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (206 customer reviews)

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Review

Formidable ... one of the most impressive and stimulating studies of the period ever published (Max Hastings Sunday Times)

Easily the best book ever written on the subject ... A work of rare beauty that combines meticulous research with sensitive analysis and elegant prose. The enormous weight of its quality inspires amazement and awe ... Academics should take note: Good history can still be a good story (Washington Post)

A lovingly researched work of the highest scholarship. It is hard to believe we will ever see a better narrative of what was perhaps the biggest collective blunder in the history of international relations (Niall Ferguson)

[Reading The Sleepwalkers], it is as if a light had been turned on a half-darkened stage of shadowy characters cursing among themselves without reason ... [Clark] demolishes the standard view ... The brilliance of Clark's far-reaching history is that we are able to discern how the past was genuinely prologue ... In conception, steely scholarship and piercing insights, his book is a masterpiece (Harold Evans New York Times Book Review)

Impeccably researched, provocatively argued and elegantly written ... a model of scholarship (Sunday Times Books of the Year)

Superb ... effectively consigns the old historical consensus to the bin ... It's not often that one has the privilege of reading a book that reforges our understanding of one of the seminal events of world history (Mail Online)

A monumental new volume ... Revelatory, even revolutionary ... Clark has done a masterful job explaining the inexplicable (Boston Globe)

Superb ... One of the great mysteries of history is how Europe's great powers could have stumbled into World War I ... This is the single best book I have read on this important topic (Fareed Zakaria)

A meticulously researched, superbly organized, and handsomely written account (Military History)

Clark is a masterly historian ... His account vividly reconstructs key decision points while deftly sketching the context driving them ... A magisterial work (Wall Street Journal)

This compelling examination of the causes of World War I deserves to become the new standard one-volume account of that contentious subject (Foreign Affairs)

A brilliant contribution (Times Higher Education)

Clark is fully alive to the challenges of the subject ... He provides vivid portraits of leading figures ... [He] also gives a rich sense of what contemporaries believed was at stake in the crises leading up to the war (Irish Times)

In recent decades, many analysts had tended to put most blame for the disaster [of the First World War] on Germany. Clark strongly renews an older interpretation which sees the statesmen of many countries as blundering blindly together into war (Stephen Howe Independent BOOKS OF THE YEAR)

Product Description

The pacy, sensitive and formidably argued history of the causes of the First World War, from acclaimed historian and author Christopher Clark



SUNDAY TIMES and INDEPENDENT BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2012



The moments that it took Gavrilo Princip to step forward to the stalled car and shoot dead Franz Ferdinand and his wife were perhaps the most fateful of the modern era. An act of terrorism of staggering efficiency, it fulfilled its every aim: it would liberate Bosnia from Habsburg rule and it created a powerful new Serbia, but it also brought down four great empires, killed millions of men and destroyed a civilization. What made a seemingly prosperous and complacent Europe so vulnerable to the impact of this assassination?



In The Sleepwalkers Christopher Clark retells the story of the outbreak of the First World War and its causes. Above all, it shows how the failure to understand the seriousness of the chaotic, near genocidal fighting in the Balkans would drag Europe into catastrophe.



Reviews:



'Formidable ... one of the most impressive and stimulating studies of the period ever published' Max Hastings,Sunday Times



'Easily the best book ever written on the subject ... A work of rare beauty that combines meticulous research with sensitive analysis and elegant prose. The enormous weight of its quality inspires amazement and awe ... Academics should take note: Good history can still be a good story' Washington Post



'A lovingly researched work of the highest scholarship. It is hard to believe we will ever see a better narrative of what was perhaps the biggest collective blunder in the history of international relations' Niall Ferguson



'[Reading The Sleepwalkers], it is as if a light had been turned on a half-darkened stage of shadowy characters cursing among themselves without reason ... [Clark] demolishes the standard view ... The brilliance of Clark's far-reaching history is that we are able to discern how the past was genuinely prologue ... In conception, steely scholarship and piercing insights, his book is a masterpiece' Harold Evans, New York Times Book Review



'Impeccably researched, provocatively argued and elegantly written ... a model of scholarship' Sunday Times Books of the Year



'Superb ... effectively consigns the old historical consensus to the bin ... It's not often that one has the privilege of reading a book that reforges our understanding of one of the seminal events of world history' Mail Online



'A monumental new volume ... Revelatory, even revolutionary ... Clark has done a masterful job explaining the inexplicable' Boston Globe



'Superb ... One of the great mysteries of history is how Europe's great powers could have stumbled into World War I ... This is the single best book I have read on this important topic' Fareed Zakaria



'A meticulously researched, superbly organized, and handsomely written account Military History


Clark is a masterly historian ... His account vividly reconstructs key decision points while deftly sketching the context driving them ... A magisterial work' Wall Street Journal



About the author:



Christopher Clark is Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of St Catharine's College. He is the author of The Politics of Conversion, Kaiser Wilhelm II and Iron Kingdom. Widely praised around the world, Iron Kingdom became a major bestseller. He has been awarded the Officer's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.



Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 5525 KB
  • Print Length: 682 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (27 Sep 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008R96NIY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (206 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #4,873 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A seminal work on World War I 23 Feb 2014
By CFL
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
All books on history that are worth reading will require the reader to exercise judgment and Christopher Clark's work is no exception. He does not enter the "blame game" save that if blame is to be attributed it is not to one country or one faction it is to the class of diplomats, financiers and militarists consistently seeking its own ends whether of personal advancement, chauvanistic nationalism or ill-formed notions of the interests of one state or another driven by internal jostling and squabbling
If one wishes to understand this arcane world which the first global war did much to end then this book is one that must be read. Works that apply simplistic analysis to World War I do not serve understanding of the events. Similarly, works that present the War as a war largely between Germany, Britain and France fail to grasp the real nature of the conflict or place it in its proper context. Clark without advancing it as a thesis, demonstrates that a global war could have started by reason of the Agadir crisis in which Britain, despite the main actors being Germany and France, demonstrated a far greater belligerence than either of those. If war had broken out then the question "What were the origins of WWI?" would have a very different answer and were blame being attributed Britain might well have to accept far more responsibility than it did in 1914. Similar points could made about the critical relations between Austria/Hungary and Russia which always entailed the menace of German involvement in 1912 as the Balkan Wars escalated. Had war started then would Britain even have been involved given the ambivalent nature of its commitment to France and France's own ambivalent relationship (and treaty terms) with Russia?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
Aware that 2014 is the centenary of the First World War, I made the resolve to try to understand what caused this cataclysmic event. As the various ceremonies for the centenary took place I realized that here in the UK there is a standard narrative implied in the reporting, namely that the soldiers of this war died in the fight for freedom against a foe that in advancement of its own interests (world domination, imperial expansion or whatever) had deliberately initiated a World War. This is the logic of the infamous article 231 of the Versailles Treaty, which blamed the war on German militarism and on civilian leaders who aided and abetted the military in this aim.
Reading this book was part of that study. In this review I’ll just mention the parts which particularly impressed me, which were Chapter 4 and Part Three (chapters 7-12).
Chapter 4 is an essential part of Clark's analysis. In this he explores the mindsets of the politicians and rulers responsible for foreign policy. He questions the assumption that politicians or leaders spoke for their respective nations or whether one could assume that entities such as "France","Germany" or "England" made decisions as discrete units about matters of life and death. In fact it was difficult to determine what the authorities in each country were thinking - there were often different parallel power structures or factions whose influence could vary and who often did not, intentionally or unintentionally, communicate. This was the case even in autocratic states like Russia. This created uncertainty about how one member of an alliance could know what the other members of that alliance would react in any given situation , never mind knowing what members of an opposing alliance were thinking.
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Important but do read other books 14 Nov 2013
Format:Paperback
An important book, especially for those who may disagree with the views it implies on German War Guilt, who need to deal with the evidence prsented here.

The author does have a reputation for being more sympathetic to German views on how the war arose than is common amongst British historians at any rate.

The Sarajevo assassination and the Serbian entanglement with this is treated in great detail. There are also valuable discussions on the different ways that decisions were made in the major countries concerned. How Austria-Hungary for example to make a decision on anything will puzzle many modern political commentators. Much detail will surprise those not specialists on this historic period. For example the fact that the President of France was on a state visit to Russia at the end of July 1914, returning home only a few days before the outbreak of war.

It is a tough and complex read though. And even with this length and complexity a number of important matters are skimped over or not mentioned. The untenable strategic situation in the Polish lands for example following the partitions of Poland in the 18th Century, reinforced by the post-Napoleonic settlements. The Russian salient including Warsaw made a defence of Prussian lands very precarious in the case of hostilities. Only an international understanding such as the `Dreikaiserbund', defunct by 1914, could manage the situation in Poland. Stressing this might reinforce a more conventional interpretation of how the war situation arose.

The discussion of the politics in Britain will leave most lay readers puzzled, as there are frequent references to the Liberal Imperialists but no explanation of who they were, and how important in the politics of the time.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I am only part way through this book, interesting read so far.
Published 4 days ago by Tim Dunckley
4.0 out of 5 stars It is the best kind of history because it has you thinking about ...
Christopher Clark has done an admirable job in bringing new life into the causes of the First World War. Read more
Published 10 days ago by J. Preater
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific
"The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914" by Christopher Clark is a superb account of the lead up to the "Urkatastrophe" of the twentieth century. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Basileus
5.0 out of 5 stars Livemeg
Bought for a friend for Xmas I know he`l love it. Came well in time and well wrapped up.
Published 18 days ago by liverpool
1.0 out of 5 stars Very poor history. Entirely biased account by a confirmed germanophile
Very poor history. Entirely biased account by a confirmed germanophile, professional and juvenile sophistry. Not worth buying
Published 22 days ago by Philip Carey
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fascinating, well writen
Published 1 month ago by Roelf Dijkhuizen
5.0 out of 5 stars everyone guilty- no one brave enough to say no
A masterly telling of a tragic story. Although the author does not point an accusing finger at one part of the cast in particular I find myself regarding the French as being true... Read more
Published 1 month ago by gerald wright
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic review of the causes of WW1 and the reasons ...
A fantastic review of the causes of WW1 and the reasons why the main protagonists went to war, a war which could have been contained in the Balkans but which became widespread... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Tony Davidson
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent review of all the main protagonists contributions in the ...
Excellent review of all the main protagonists contributions in the events leading to WW1. Rather ignores the blame game with a much broader assessment of the causes of the war. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Cool Hand
5.0 out of 5 stars A materpiece
Detailed research and the best book on the subject I have read, a masterpiece.
Published 1 month ago by mark parkin
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