The Trigger: Hunting the Assassin Who Brought the World to War Hardcover – 1 May 2014
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"A triumph… A marvellously absorbing book on the nature of one man’s political grievance and its terrible aftermath" (Ian Thomson Observer Books of the Year)
"The most imaginative and singular book on the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War to date... This is expeditionary journalism at its best – a historical inquest radiated through the mind and experience of an outstanding reporter" (Robert Fox Evening Standard)
"A masterpiece of historical empathy and evocation... This book is a tour de force" (Christopher Clark Guardian)
"A fascinating study of one of those rare individuals whose act of violence changed the history of the world. An incisive, shrewd, wholly compelling investigation of an assassin’s life and times" (William Boyd)
"A fabulous book that all First World War historians will now have to take account of… Superb" (Saul David)
"A splendid book. It takes its place among classics of Balkan history" (Norman Stone)
"Tim Butcher goes from strength to strength. I enjoyed every paragraph" (Dervla Murphy)
"Insightful, useful and delightfully written… A great book – one to be recommended to professional and amateur historian alike" (General Sir David Richards, former Chief of the Defence Staff)
"Lucid, passionate, urgent" (Rory MacLean)
"This is first class history and in a year swamped with First World War centenary books, it’s the one you should read first" (Andrew Roberts)
A trek through the Balkans, an exploration of the life of an assassin (the teenager who killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand and so triggered the First World War), and a journey into the history of this complex and fascinating part of the world...See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Butcher shows how Princip, who was born on 13 July 1894, was an intelligent and focused South Slav who willingly gave his llife for the cause. He was born to a family that experienced extreme poverty. Revelations about Princip's education and motivation are remarkable and novel. A bright scholar, he began to absent himself from school on numerous occasions. As a result his grades plumeted.
The book is also an absorbing travelogue about the Balkans which the author knows very well. It has also a number of pertinent things to say about the recent Bosnian conflct and the appalling behaviour of Serbia. It is an easy book to read that clarifies very complex ethnic and political issues in a region racked by nationalism and related religious issiues.
We are currently being swamped by books on the Great War; this is one of the very few that should not be missed because it is based on new research instead of being yet another rehash of half-truths and myth. It is pleasing that Butcher does not, unlike three recent books, raise the old outdated question about whether the assassination caused the Great War. In the 24 years prior to 1914 there had been 11 assassinations of Kings, Presidents and the like in Europe and America, none of them led to war.Read more ›
But although there is some interesting material in Tim Butcher's book, this is greatly outweighed by all the stuff about him and his journey across Bosnia, which took up far too much space in the book and was rather boring into the bargain. I suppose the problem was that there just isn't enough about Princip to fill a book so it had to be padded out with descriptions of long walks as well as the more recent history of Bosnia: interesting in itself but covered far better elsewhere.
Butcher did uncover some genuinely interesting material: the meeting with Princip's family and the school reports, but inevitably in the circumstances there's great reliance on secondary sources.
There's also a problem over his treatment of ethnic divisions in Bosnia, now and then: at some points he revives the (false) "ancient ethnic hatreds" meme, at other points he questions it, and better editing might have reduced the confusion here. And another irritation: there are far too many Americanisms: Mom for Mum, downtown for town centre, casket for coffin etc. He may live in South Africa now, but he's British and worked in the UK for many years and these Americanisms really begin to grate after a while.
So, a study of Gavrilo Princip is a really interesting subject but there's not enough about him and far too much about Tim Butcher, so I think 3 stars is a fair marking.
Many years later, the author decided to follow the trail from Princip’s home in a countryside now still dangerous from mines left over from the war, to the end of his life. During this book the author asks why WWI is still so important and looks at the impact on Princip’s actions on the history of the Bosnians, Serbs and Croats in the region. He questions whether the assassination was the spark that ignited the conflict and, on his journey, looks at the complicated history of the region as well as that of Princip’s himself.
This is a very interesting read; for many different reasons. I was fascinated by the story of Gavrilo Princip, which was at the heart of this book. A young boy – still a teenager – who left a countryside where life still followed an almost medieval pattern. A boy who had academic ambitions; who travelled to the city to study and who dropped out in 1911. In fact, three of the dropouts that year would become revolutionaries; the education system a breeding ground for radicalism. The story of this young man is still relevant today.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's a very readable book and I enjoyed it. It does perhaps have a bit too much about the author's journey. This is entertaining but I wanted to know about Princip. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Michael Hart
Another highly readable, well researched and revealing travel / history book, as I have come to expect from this author. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Alan David
I just loved this book. Read it!
It is a mixture between a biography of Gavrilo Princip, a general history of Bosnia, a travelogue of the author tracing the path of the... Read more
Butcher serves up a fascinating and very readable insight into on one of the most far reaching single actions in modern(ish) history – the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Jules
A really good read, much more than a historical review of Princip, more of the authors own biography of his involvement in the 1990s Balkan war and the background of Balkan historyPublished 7 months ago by RJ Hanney
Fantastic book. Provides great insight into the life of Gavrilo Princip and looks at how history impacted not just his actions, but how it has continued to influence the region. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Colin Rowe
I wasn’t especially interested in the subject matter of this book to begin with; I read it because I had been impressed by one of Tim Butcher’s earlier books, Blood River, an... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Mike Robbins
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