- Paperback: 344 pages
- Publisher: Harvard University Press; Reprint edition (3 May 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0674072332
- ISBN-13: 978-0674072336
- Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 15.2 x 22.9 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 305,945 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Russian Origins of the First World War Paperback – 3 May 2013
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"Going against a century of received wisdom, Bilkent University professor McMeekin offers a dramatic new interpretation of WWI...Rifling the archives, analyzing battle plans, and sifting through the machinations of high diplomacy, McMeekin reveals the grand ambitions of czarist Russia, which wanted control of the Black Sea straits to guarantee all-weather access to foreign markets. Maneuvering France and England into a war against Germany presented the best chance to acquire this longed-for prize. No empire had more to gain from the coming conflict, and none pushed harder to ensure its arrival. Once unleashed, however, the conflagration leapt out of control, and imperial Russia herself ranked among its countless victims." --Publishers Weekly, 26th Sept 2011
" Casting a contrarian eye on the first major conflict of the twentieth century, Sean McMeekin finds the roots of WWI inside Russia, whose leaders deliberately sought--for their own ends--to expand a brawl that the Germans wanted to keep local. The author tracks the fallout of these antique plots right down to the present geopolitical landscape. Barnes & Noble Review 20120113 An entirely new take on the origins of World War I comes as a surprise. If war guilt is to be assigned, this book argues, it should go not only (or even primarily) to Germany--the long-accepted culprit--but also to Russia...Bold reading between the lines of history." -- Robert Legvold, Foreign Affairs, 1st Jan 2012
" As Sean McMeekin argues in this bold and brilliant revisionist study, Russia was as much to blame as Germany for the outbreak of the war. Using a wide range of archival sources, including long-neglected tsarist documents, he argues that the Russians had ambitions of their own (the dismantling of the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires, no less) and that they were ready for a war once they had secured a favorable alliance with the British and the French." -- Orlando Figes, Sunday Times, 1st Jan 2012
"The book is a refreshing challenge to longstanding assumptions and shifted perspectives are always good." --Miriam Cosic, The Australian, 3rd March 2012
About the Author
Sean McMeekin is Assistant Professor of International Relations at Bilkent University in Turkey.
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Top Customer Reviews
One issue that is certain to touch many a raw nerve is Dr.Read more ›
Most WW1 historians have presented Russia as a backward, lumbering player on the Allied side: its advantages of huge scale were lost to an autocratic regime and bureacracy. It was slow to mobilise, compliant, victim of an early crushing defeat and huge losses on the Eastern Front and subject to the earthquake of Bolshevik revolution in 1917. McMeekin presents a different view, of a Russia that was modernising fast and growing economically at the rate of China today; that it managed superb diplomatic manouevres to bring Europe to a general war while making Russia's role look confined to support of Serbia; and that it did so to support its own mission to dismantle the Ottoman Empire and annex much of Asia Minor, including the great strategic prize of Constantinople (which it already planned to rename as Tsargrad). Not only was Russia not slow to mobilise, it did so in secrecy days before the other belligerents and put itself into an advantageous position for a strike into Galicia. (The latter being of precious little help to its ally France, who desperately needed large scale engagement of the German armies, not the Austrians).Read more ›
But the Cold War is over and it is time to have a look beyond the concepts it once identified: otherwise, the Western beholder has no legitimate excuse to complain about the incomprehensibility of the post-1989 global conflicts. Timothy Snyder ("Bloodlands") has recently struggled to take attention away from the battlefields of Normandie, instead focusing upon the fact that the most horrifying tragedies of the 20th century - for which there was never set any "happy end" the kind of which becomes the topic of Hollywood movies - took place in the borderland between Hitler's and Stalin's reigns of terror.
In a similar vein, Sean McMeekin has presented us with two publications - "Berlin-Baghdad Express" and "The Russian Origins of the First World War" - in which the real epicenter of the First World War appears to be, in fact, the Ottoman Empire and the Middle East.
This is important for two reasons. First, it shows that the "Middle East" is not a periphery that has strangely jumped into the center of attention in 2001, as the bewilderment of many Western beholders still seems to imply.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
What silly bs. WWI started because German troops marched into neighbouring countries. That's all there is to it.Published 15 months ago by Mark V
Great thesis of Russian designs on Constantinople and internal strife. Interesting viewpointPublished 17 months ago by Gehrig Schultz
McMeekin's trawling of unusual archives not widely featured in western histories throws up some intriguing material. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Diandri
this is one of the best historical works of the decade; very well written; very carefully argued and commands vast archival material including the recent. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Prof Emeritus Faruk Birtek
Terrific stuff. It would have been 5 stars were it not for the author's strange ideas about naval history: imaginary purchases of Chilean and Argentinian battleships by Turkey (I... Read morePublished on 21 Feb. 2015 by Red Admiral
Magnificent read. A different view at long last on the origins of the Great War. Anyone interested in this period of our history should pick this one up. Read morePublished on 19 Aug. 2014 by Erik
The Russians are so often ignored by British writers on WWI. This book is very accessible and helps to redress that balance.Published on 27 Jan. 2014 by Commercial lawyer