- Paperback: 704 pages
- Publisher: Profile Books (12 Jun. 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1846682738
- ISBN-13: 978-1846682735
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 4.6 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (118 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 62,789 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The War that Ended Peace: How Europe abandoned peace for the First World War Paperback – 12 Jun 2014
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The story of how intelligent, well-meaning leaders guided their nations into catastrophe. Immersed in intrigue, enlivened by fascinating stories, and made compelling by the author's own insights, this is one of the finest books I have read on the causes of World War I (Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State)
Once again, Margaret MacMillan proves herself not just a masterly historian but a brilliant storyteller (Strobe Talbott, President, Brookings Institution)
A masterful explanation of the complex forces that brought the Edwardian world crashing down. Utterly riveting, deeply moving, and impeccably researched, MacMillan's latest opus will become the definitive account of old Europe's final years (Amanda Foreman)
The definitive history of the political, cultural, military and personal forces which shaped Europe's path to the Great War - now in paperback.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
'It had to come' (US Ambassador in London, 1914).
'Torture and Cannibalism were the only two expedients that the civilised, scientific, Christian States had been able to deny themselves:and these were of doubtful utility'. (W.Churchill).
'Please restrain Conrad' (Archduke Ferdinand in 1908).
'You'll be home before the leaves fall'. (Kaiser to troops in August 1914).
'He was like a battleship with steam up and screws going but with no rudder, and he will run into something one day and cause a catastrophe'.( Sir Edward Grey describing the Kaiser).
Professor Sir Michael Howard has written that you cannot understand the causes of the Great War or indeed any war unless you also understand the political, economic, social and cultural environment in which it took place. Hence, the ramshackle nature of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, the constitutional arrangements of Germany post 1870,the surging nationalism in Serbia and the fragile nature of Tsarist Russia must be understood.For this reason, historians like Professor Margaret Macmillan now concentrate more on issues and developments in all of these fields instead of researching only diplomatic exchanges.
This essential requirement reveals the paucity and trivial nature of some of the offerings in the current cascade of books on the Great War, and why this account shines like pure gold. Those accounts that 'read like novels' do so because most of them consist of fiction and myth. No war has been so subjected to mythology, or stands so much in need of the correcting force of fundamental simplicities, as the Great War.Read more ›
Beginning with the Paris Exhibition of 1900, Prof MacMillan charts European history to the outbreak of war, picking out, with the benefit of all we now know, how a series of events, along with a prevailing culture of militarism, and theories of how war should be conducted, and all the limitations of the period too, brought us closer to war.
As the introduction makes clear, it was not so much that the European powers intended to go to war, its that the various options were gradually narrowed down, so war became, apparently the only choice. I say apparently, for as Margaret Macmillan points out, there are always choices.
Even as we all know the outcome, the book holds the reader in suspense, as time and events march on.
Throughout the book we get a sympathetic appreciation for all the key players, with their strengths and foibles. Each chapter deals with significant events, e.g. the two Morocco crises, the Balkan wars, or aspects and movements of the time, e.g. the peace movements, military plans, militarism. We learn how all of this shapes the leaders of the day, and the various alliances that form between the powers. In the main, there's helpful analysis towards the end of each chapter, of what impact these events/factors had on the path to war. We also get an appreciation of the period, and how the key players were men (mainly men) of their time.
We are treated throughout the book to a then European perspective. How Europeans felt, how Europeans reacted, what values Europeans held dear, and so on. We get an insight into early 20th century European culture; this I found refreshing, exhilarating almost, drawing out a European identity.Read more ›
MacMillan begins by giving an overview of the involved nations as they were at the turn of the century - their political structure, alliances and enmities, their culture and economic status. She then takes us in considerable depth through the twenty years or so preceding the war, concentrating on each nation in turn, and going further back into history when required. She introduces us to the main players: political, military and leading thinkers. She explains how and why the two main alliances developed that divided Europe and shows the fears of each nation feeling threatened or surrounded by potential enemies. And she shows how this led to an arms race, which each nation initially thought would act as a deterrence to war. Throughout she draws parallels to more recent history and current events, sometimes with frightening clarity.
In the mid-section, MacMillan discusses public opinion and cultural shifts, highlighting the parallel and divisive growth of militarism and pacifism and how the heads of government had to try to reconcile these factions.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
File alongside Boris' work of fiction on Churchill. Anglocentric nationalism, not history.Published 1 month ago by Plebania
on reading a few pages i had that same feeling i had when i first read AJP Taylor or B Liddel Hart.
An absolutely superbly written, researched and formulated piece of... Read more
Outstanding review of that pre-war situation and all causes that led to the conflict.Published 3 months ago by manuel gonzalez
This is an exceptional book. A Gripping read. MacMillan has very clear writing style. Very thorough. I finished the book today - I got a heck of a lot out of it. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Harry Duckworth
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