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Controversial and frightening,
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This review is from: The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 (Kindle Edition)
Clark seems to argue that the Great War was everyone's fault and nobody's fault. It is a terrifying account of the pressures on all sides that pushed European states into the conflagration. It makes approachable use of game theory to show the mutual interaction of the participants pushed them further and further into a situation where war became more and more likely. At the same time, Clark does not write history backwards, so nothing is inevitable. This enables a positive assessment of the strength of the Austro-Hungarian Empire as a political system - instead of just assuming it was doomed. The account of Serbian irredentism is revealing, and unfortunately still relevant to understanding contemporary events!
Especially in Germany Clark has been criticised for under-estimating the particular strength of German militarism, and I think the critics are right. There is such a strong focus on the mutual pressures for war that he under-estimates the diversity in the different participants. Nonetheless, when you finish reading the book you realise how easily conflicts can escalate - a warning for today!
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Initial post: 12 Sep 2014 23:28:42 BDT
Marcus Laver says:
No, the critics are wrong. Germany's standing army was smaller than that of France, let alone Russia. And even the German Navy was no threat to Britain by 1914, despite its supposed large size. What the Germanophobes lose sight of is the fact that Germany was surrounded by hostile powers, all allied against her!
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