Europe's Last Summer: Why the World Went to War in 1914 Paperback – 4 Aug 2005
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"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)
A riveting narrative of a crucial time in twentieth century history.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
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?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
"So the British, though they believed themselves to be open-minded, detested the peoples of the next three ranking Great Powers: the French, the Russians and the Germans". Read morePublished on 3 Dec. 2013 by Cathode Follower
This is very old-fashioned history writing : preconceived, prejudiced and partial. Good propaganda, bad for History. The kind of book that could have been written in 1919. Read morePublished on 26 Aug. 2013 by Walter Meersman
Loved this book. Beautifully written and eminently readable. David Fromkin's arguments are hard to disagree with. Its a must read for anyone interested in the era.Published on 2 Dec. 2012 by Colinwe
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