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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars German War Guilt
As one would expect from a writer of the calibre of Robert Massie, this thousand page tome seems all too short. The extraordinary personalities involved in to this slide into catastrophe are brilliantly delineated, the events graphically and intelligibly set out, and the finger of guilt points inexorably at Germany. Betraying their Bismarkian legacy which all costs wanted...
Published 12 months ago by Samuel Romilly

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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A glorious waste
A huge but amazingly readable account of the political manoeuvrings between Great Britain and Germany in the years leading up to WW1.
There is much to recommend this book. It is brilliantly written and sustains the reader's attention through every one of its 900 or so pages. The portraits of the various characters are masterful and unforgettable, as are the...
Published on 31 May 2005 by Brian Whitby


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars German War Guilt, 26 Feb. 2014
By 
Samuel Romilly (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dreadnought: Britain,Germany and the Coming of the Great War (Paperback)
As one would expect from a writer of the calibre of Robert Massie, this thousand page tome seems all too short. The extraordinary personalities involved in to this slide into catastrophe are brilliantly delineated, the events graphically and intelligibly set out, and the finger of guilt points inexorably at Germany. Betraying their Bismarkian legacy which all costs wanted to avoid a war on two fronts, led by a psychologically damaged Kaiser, egged on by a an over -confident and aggressive military and naval officer corps, Germany played a brash and reckless game with the other powers in the two decades before the war broke out.

Given the centenary this year of the outbreak of the First World War, this is an excellent and elegant way to begin to understand the rivalries and follies that led inexorably to war. The Kaiser is particular comes over as an absurd , petulant, and inadequate leader with far too much power. He almost invariably put his foot in it, and the greatest mess of all led to the death of millions. Enunciating views towards the Jews and to world conquest reminiscent of Hitler, Wilhelm II should have been tried for war crimes.

Appallingly the Armistice proved to be just that, a crazy interlude, before the war for world domination recommenced in 1939, again motivated by German militarism and indifference to human suffering.

Fortunately for those who have surfed through a thousand pages of prelude to war, Massie has written an equally long sequel on the course of the Great war.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The slow march to the Great War, 31 Jan. 2002
By A Customer
Robert K. Massie clearly loves his subject, and this book is an enthusiastically-written history of the personalities, and technology, behind the steady drift of Europe to World War 1. The style is such that reading the book is like encountering a clubbable historian in your local pub. Some people may not like this method of writing, but I found it a refreshing change, and I enjoyed the anecdotes about some of the personalities, like Lord Salisbury entertaining a lunatic unawares, in his personal railway compartment. For a non-specialist but interested reader, like me, this book was an excellent read.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Meticulous Piece of Research, 9 Oct. 2006
By 
Mr. R. Williams (Twickenham, UK) - See all my reviews
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An initial glance at this may give the impression that it is simply about the development of the Dreadnought class of battleship and the arms race that followed their creation. This is an important issue in itself, but Massie covers much more. He provides the reader with a detailed account of relations between the great powers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and of much of the stubborness, short-sightedness and bumbling that almost accidentally led to the First World War. The book provides superb mini-biographies of key players, the Kaiser, Bismark, Asquith, the earlier years of WS Churchill and many others. For people studying international relations in that period, this is an excellent source of reference, even for those who are not specifically interested in the naval matters alone.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear, informative and completely absorbing., 21 Mar. 2001
I am not usually quick to dive into huge volumes of political discussion, and came at this from the direction of naval history. Daunted initially by the book's size, I was quickly absorbed into one of the most fascinating accounts of World affairs I have yet encountered. It is studded with luminous pen-portraits of the personalities involved, and carries the reader briskly along with clear, rational exposition of momentous events and of smaller, often highly illuminating anecdotes. The book is not a great source with regard to naval architecture and engineering, but the student of those aspects must surely read this book in order properly to understand the context in which such huge technical advances were made in a mere 50 or 60 years. I cannot think how this account can be bettered, and cannot recommend it highly enough.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Intense,comprehensive my first real political read., 7 Feb. 2015
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I repeat the above .i have always had an interest in the Great War ,reading my fathers 6 volumes of "A Popular History of the Great War" Edited by Sir J.A Hammerton and published in London byThe Fleetway House and printed by The Amalgamated Press Ltd. Of London in my early teens over 55 years ago.There is no date of edition etc.
Robert K massie's book presents much of the intrigue and an insight into the political goings on that are meticulous in their.detail and recounting while exuding an 'aroma' of truth in portraying and relating so many complex characters and facts that cover both the British side as well as the other nationalities involved with impartiality and bring to life so many of the people who lived and influenced the events of the period. AA Scotland.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating political history, 8 April 1999
By A Customer
'Dreadnought' is a superb companion to any technical history of battleship development: it provides the essential political and even personal backdrop to the development and construction of these mighty ships.
Massie touches lightly on specifics of armour and armament and propulsion, concentrating his formidable talents on the political and personal histories surrounding the Anglo-German naval arms race of the late 19th century and the events that led to World War 1.
Massie brings the personalities to life, describing their backgrounds and showing how they reacted to and helped to shape the events of their time. With the men of the time so described, he explores how confusion, mutual distrust, antagonism, personal ambition and national pride dragged Europe into the morass of the First World War. He captures chillingly the popular and, in some cases, private enthusiasm for conflict.
I found this book to be both enlightening and entertaining, and highly recommend it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dreadnought-The Perfect History, 8 Oct. 2011
By 
This review is from: Dreadnought: Britain,Germany and the Coming of the Great War (Paperback)
In this era of mass histories where a single brief event generates a hundred instant histories within a few weeks and twice as many reviews, it is difficult to discuss the immense scope of this book without sounding trite or descending to the usual polemic of Brilliant ...Astounding ...a Major Work, Five Stars.
The problem is that Massie's book is all of those declamations and more, so what can I say? As social, technical, political and personal history of the era and characters that inspired the construction of the Dreadnought battleships and the modern naval fleet, it is well and truly beyond any other book dealing with even the single issues it encompasses. Massie writes in a modern narrative style that makes enjoyable reading and the stiff characters of history come to life as people and the flawed individuals that they where. Of course some are much more flawed than others and as we find, even dramatic heroes and striding visionary leaders have their darker sides that made them loathed and distrusted by their contemporaries.
If you want a social explanation of the events leading up to the Great War this comes very close. As for the fascinating story of naval advances and how they affected the balance of power via the Twentieth century's first WMD's this is by far the finest account.
Regards Gregory House

Author of The Liberties of London
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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A glorious waste, 31 May 2005
By 
Brian Whitby (Luzern, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
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A huge but amazingly readable account of the political manoeuvrings between Great Britain and Germany in the years leading up to WW1.
There is much to recommend this book. It is brilliantly written and sustains the reader's attention through every one of its 900 or so pages. The portraits of the various characters are masterful and unforgettable, as are the writer's descriptions of the various set-pieces within his story. To take just one example, the portrayal of the Battle of Trafalgar, in the book's preface, is so superbly written as to almost qualify as poetry.
However, having finished the book I was left with a number of grave doubts as to whether, apart from its entertainment value, reading it had been worthwhile.
Most seriously, the final two chapters make it clear that war between Britain and Germany would almost certainly have occurred even had the Germans never built a single ship! This invalidates the author's main point; that the German Naval building programme (and the British response) was a major cause of the disaster that engulfed Europe in 1914.
Secondly, the author's decision to treat the whole period purely in terms of the personalities and machinations of the leading statesmen is inexplicable. What were the effects of this massive Naval expenditure on the British and more particularly the German economies? Did the German decision to create such a large Navy waste resources that could have been spent making their land forces even stronger? (Given the narrow margin between victory and defeat in the land campaign of 1914, an extra 50,000 soldiers on the ground in France might have enabled the Germans to capture Paris, push the BEF back across the Chennel and win the war before Christmas.) I've heard it said that the huge military expenditure in Germany pre 1914 created such economic problems that a short, sharp war actually appeared to be a reasonable financial instrument - what does Mr. Massie think of this theory?
It is clear, as the British pointed out at the time, that the German Navy was designed for one task only - to fight the Royal Navy in the North Sea. Did the German people and press even think about this? And what did they think in general about Britain? Again, we are not told.
Finally, could Mr. Massie learn the difference between 'England' and 'Britain'? I can imagine Scottish, Welsh and Irish readers throwing away this book in disgust...
However, I don't want to finish this review of this fascinating book on too sour a note. It portrays graphically to the general reader what happens when a new Great Power, backed by a large and intensely patriotic population and a formidable manufacturing base, rises to challenge the established World Order. For this reason alone it should be essential reading in both Washington and Peking.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A warning if you are aiming to read it on a Kindle - I found this very difficult and eventually bought (and enjoyed more) a hard, 31 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: Dreadnought: Britain,Germany and the Coming of the Great War (Paperback)
Detailed and wide ranging giving a vivid background to the events and personalities on all sides leading up to the First World War. Engagingly written and a fascinating account of the development of the naval aspects.
A warning if you are aiming to read it on a Kindle - I found this very difficult and eventually bought (and enjoyed more) a hard copy. I like to flick between pictures and references at the back and find this very hard on a Kindle.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Well written, lost of detail, a must-read!, 5 Feb. 2015
By 
Mr. C. Rust "Hebes Dad" (Aldbourne, Wilts, UK) - See all my reviews
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There's so much detail - each chapter could almost be it's own book. So there's lots to read, but you definitely feel like you know a lot more about the run-up to WWI by the time you've read it.

A chapter or two in I had wondered whether I'd make it to the end, but I did, and it was worth it.

Sometimes you almost read it as a novel and want to start screaming at the characters involved that they'll regret their decisions
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Dreadnought: Britain,Germany and the Coming of the Great War
Dreadnought: Britain,Germany and the Coming of the Great War by Robert K Massie (Paperback - 13 Dec. 2007)
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