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Europe's Last Summer: Why the World Went to War in 1914 Paperback – 4 Aug 2005

4.1 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (4 Aug. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099430843
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099430841
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 318,359 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"He has a gift for seeing the whole world and for packing complicated material into a few boldly stroked sentences" (New York Times)

"Fromkin gives some excellent pen portraits of the principals and uses quotations to deadly effect" (Sunday Times)

"A crisp, lively, day-by-day account of that fateful summer... This book, both decisive and nuanced, is as convincing as it is appalling" (Foreign Affairs)

"An absorbing history of WWI's origins... Superb" (Newsweek)

"An enormously impressive book, a popular history brimming with fresh scholarship" (Weekly Standard)

Book Description

A riveting narrative of a crucial time in twentieth century history.

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4.1 out of 5 stars
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I was attracted to this book as it is extensively cited in the Wikipedia article on the July Crisis of 1914, which is the subject of the book.

And it is a good read. It comes up with the concept that the origins of the First World War were actually two wars that were intertwined and that the first of these war, the Austro-Serbian conflict was subverted by the Germans for the second, which was the Russo-German fight. If you want a quick read about the preparations for war made by the guilty parties, which are conclusively Austria and Germany, the this is the book for you.

By the book does have one major fault.

As with all books based on factual events or concepts, it relies on the author having to refer to other books on the topic. Thus unless a book is about topics in the author's direct personal experience, the author will inevitable be writing material based on books that he or she has read. It is thus vital that when assertions are made that these are back up by a reference to the source used. Time and time again there is a major revelation in the book about what historical figure knew what when and it would have been so useful to know where the author found this snippet of information. Why? Well in my case it would be because I happen to own a good selection of the works mentioned in the bibliography. Thus for me the delight of being able to locate the very same book that the author used is denied. This also means that my understanding of what the author did with the information is missing. This may be a personal observation related solely to my interest in the topic, but it does demonstrate a wider point. This is that this book in this context appears to be designed for a reader who does not propose to read any other book on the topic and no-one else.
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Format: Paperback
Most analyses of the origins of the Great War fall into one of two categories. There is the Marxian viewpoint that it was a struggle between Britain and Germany for captive third world markets, and there is the chaos theory type critique which speaks of the power relationship in Europe spiralling out of control after the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinaand, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary in Sarajevo.

David Fromkin refuses to accept either of these lines of argument and instead carefully assembles his evidence before pointing his finger squarely at the German military machine. Germany, according to Fromkin, was terrified at the prospect of being overtaken as Europe's strongest economic and military power by Russia and wanted to launch a preemptive war against its eastern rival before this could happen. But two things had to be in place before such an adventure could be undertaken. Firstly, in order to carry German domestic opinion, Russia had to be seen as the aggressor. Secondly, their unreliable ally, Austria, had to be in the field in order to defend the Eastern front while Germany's armies knocked Russia's ally France out of the war.

The Sarajevo assassinations provided Moltke and the other German war leaders with a perfect opportunity. They tricked Austria into pursuing a war of vengence against Serbia for harbouring the terrorists who had killed the Archduke, promising to do what was necessary to keep Russia from intervening on Serbia's side. Their real agenda was the reverse: to lure Russia into the conflict, and they duly obliged by declaring a general mobilisation, to which Germany responded by declaring war.
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Format: Paperback
Just finished reading this terrific book. I couldn't put it down.

The scene-setting is particularly deft as the story reaches its climax in daily accounts from the Great Power capitals.

The conclusion to the book may upset some who cling to the orthodoxy but it's hard to reach any other after reading this brilliantly researched work.
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Format: Hardcover
I have to thank David Fromkin for this book, as all my life I have never really understood what happened in that fateful summer of 1914; I have been given many so-called reasons for the Great War by many and varied people but have almost always been given to understand that and I quote,' "It was the assassination of the Archduke in Sarajevo."
I now know, thanks to Fromkin that, yes this was the excuse but it was NOT the reason. There have been many investigations into the causes and because of various documentary discoveries, it is now possible to have a more definitive overview.
This book is excellent - it explains lucidly in easy to read format all the wealth of the various machinations by Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the lead up to the First World War.
There is a wealth of detail; obviously there has to be but it is easily understood and one is left with the feeling that what Fromkin says here, is what actually was the cause for the war. He lays the blame squarely on Germany and I believe he is perfectly correct.
All in all an excellent book - for anyone intested in the subject, this is well worth the read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author proposes that the key to understanding what happened is to keep in mind there were to wars in the summer of 1914: the Austrian-Serbian war and the German-Russian war. Von Moltke used the first to get the unreliable Austrian's into the battlefield then switched to his real objective which was a European war.

In the world of 1914 the power to make war was concentrated in view individuals - head's of state, heads of government, minister in charge of foreign policy. The author asks if countries could stumble in to wasteful and pointless wars again. He thought it too early to tell. My view is that we have already seen the Bush's take US and Britain into war in Iraq and Afghanistan. So this excellent account of the origin's of First world war is relevant to the world we live in today. Germany felt threatened by the rising industrial power of Russia. Does the US feel sufficiently threatened by the rise of China to launch a pre-emptive strike somewhere when a window of opportunity arises as it did for von Moltke in July 1914?
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