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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Full of style and substance
Not all of AJP Taylor's arguments in this book are given the credence they once were among academics and First World War enthusiasts, but this book is still a must read (for it's style and substance). War by Timetable used to be a set text for students when discussing WW1. In terms of engaging with European history and being written by one of the great non-fiction prose...
Published 17 months ago by thereader33

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a series of blunders
If you want a no-nonsense readable account of why war broke out in 1914, this is the book for you.
It’s quite short by AJP’s standard but it carries his strong philosophy about this devastating conflict. He argues that from the 1860s the great powers had managed to maintain piece by diplomatic détente but that their dependency on this hit rock...
Published 8 months ago by DennisF


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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Full of style and substance, 16 July 2013
This review is from: War by Timetable: How the First World War Began (Kindle Edition)
Not all of AJP Taylor's arguments in this book are given the credence they once were among academics and First World War enthusiasts, but this book is still a must read (for it's style and substance). War by Timetable used to be a set text for students when discussing WW1. In terms of engaging with European history and being written by one of the great non-fiction prose stylists of the 20th century it should be again.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a series of blunders, 13 April 2014
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This review is from: War by Timetable: How the First World War Began (Kindle Edition)
If you want a no-nonsense readable account of why war broke out in 1914, this is the book for you.
It’s quite short by AJP’s standard but it carries his strong philosophy about this devastating conflict. He argues that from the 1860s the great powers had managed to maintain piece by diplomatic détente but that their dependency on this hit rock bottom in August, 1914. So, we have a view that the great powers stumbled into war, some eagerly (Germany) some reluctantly (GB). Also, he makes a strong argument that with the advent of the railways, massive mobilisation was not only achievable but could frighten, or provoke others into doing so. Interestingly, in this book, the Kaiser Wilhelm emerges with a posture, but not a real taste, for war. After reading this book, but in my view, it was a pity The Tsar, The Kaiser and George VI never got together for a cup of tea in 1914. War may have been averted. I accept this is a silly idea but no less silly than the cause of the war itself. I do not regard this book as the definitive account of the start of the Great War but, as usual, he writes s both informatively and interestingly. A good read!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Reading, 3 Sep 2013
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This review is from: War by Timetable: How the First World War Began (Kindle Edition)
This book is essential reading for anyone interested in World War One, whether you're a student or scholar. Taylor is an entertaining writer and his wit and judgement still resonate today.

This book concerns itself more with European History, rather than just being British focused, but War by Timetable is all the stronger for it. As with Norman Stone's recent book on WW1 the genius of Taylor is his brevity. There will be books twice as long as this one published in the next few years but they will, at best, say half as much.
Despite the grave subject matter there is still a wonderful, dry humour to Taylor's prose which popular historians of today might wish to emulate more, or be envious of.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I've read on the First World War., 2 Sep 2013
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This review is from: War by Timetable: How the First World War Began (Kindle Edition)
Am duly looking forward to Max Hastings' forthcoming book, Catastrophe, on the origins of the First World War but as superb a writer as Hastings is this short-ish but stylishly written book by one of the 20th century's greatest historians will be hard to top. War by Timetable is a book about diplomacy (or the failings of it) rather than military history. Each of the major players was culpable, in varying degrees, in terms of the folly (or follies) which increased and caused the Great War. Bluffs were or weren't called at the wrong time. Communication and sensible decision making, via checks and balances, were lacking. All in all, it was the failure of politicians/rulers which led to the greatest tragedy of the 20th century (the greatest because in many ways it was the cause many of the other great tragedies which followed). This is an an intelligent and accessible read, with the author writing with insight and wit. Loved this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly fascinating - as you'd expect., 5 Jun 2011
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I was fortunate to meet AJP Taylor a few times and was always almost dazzled by his style and way of thinking. Perhaps his style annoyed some people and they criticized his books accordingly; even if they agreed with some of his approaches and conclusions. He presented history with a common touch, simple language, colloquialisms, common sense, and clever interpretation of original material. His forays into the minds and beliefs of the main players was most entertaining and very credible.

This text follows pretty well a TV lecture he gave sometime in the 1960s or 70s, but is much more informed and researched. He concludes, with mesmerizing speed and detail, that the Great War was caused by two simple factors. First, that partial mobilisation of armies [as token shows of force] was regarded as impossible because of the railway timetable system across Europe. Second, that the very existence of the Schlieffen Plan was certain to create a premature response by Germany to any mobilisation, anywhere in Europe, and especially in Russia. So, as soon as the Austrian ultimatum to Serbia was rejected [more correctly ignored], a war became inevitable somewhere - and somewhere inevitably became everywhere because of the timetables.

Absolutely fascinating and a good read as much as any detective novel. In fact, better than most.

The copy I received has seen better days and is somewhat creased; but perfectly legible although not in such a condition that I would want to pass it on.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars no one could imagine war on the scale of WW1, 30 Sep 2014
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This review is from: War by Timetable: How the First World War Began (Kindle Edition)
150 pages, so quite brief. Has many incisive observations typical of A.J.P. Taylor.

The 'timetable' of the title mainly reflects the complex transport arrangements necessary for the mobilization of armed forces (sometimes running into millions of men). Partial mobilization was not workable: it was all or nothing.

Taylor writes: "Wilhelm II and the rest assumed that somehow war could be fitted in between a couple of vacations. Though they talked of war they could not imagine it. Their only military experience was on manoeuvres where action could be conveniently broken off at dinner time." "The 25th of July was of course a Saturday, and it was too much to expect that Sir Edward Grey would give up his weekend's fishing for a remote Balkan crisis"

In 1914 no one could imagine war on the scale of WW1. This book did much more than refresh my mind of the events leading to a world war.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Veteran book still relevant today, 11 Sep 2013
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This review is from: War by Timetable: How the First World War Began (Kindle Edition)
Written in AJP Taylor's very readable style. It is a lucid, concise account of the events in early 1914. The "war by timetable" aspect is only a minor part of the account and the title is probably down to good marketing by the original publishers! Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction, 13 Dec 2013
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Frieda Verbaenen (Dublin, Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: War by Timetable: How the First World War Began (Kindle Edition)
This book is a good introduction to how world war one started. As it is a fairly short book, more reading is required for more in depth information.

I found it well written and read most of it on a one and a half hour flight.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AJP at his best, 29 Sep 2013
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T. Lindley - See all my reviews
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This review is from: War by Timetable: How the First World War Began (Kindle Edition)
Given the number of books on the beginning of WW1 just now, I am surprised that this first class book has not been given more prominence. It certainly deserves it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exemplary historian, 20 Sep 2013
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Rugby3 (California) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: War by Timetable: How the First World War Began (Kindle Edition)
Mr Taylor is rightly acknowledged as one of the world's best historians and in this insightful classic he pulls back the curtain on the preparations and implementation of military movements before and during WW1 in a clear and comprehensible way.
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