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War by Timetable: How the First World War Began Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
It’s quite short by AJP’s standard but it carries his strong philosophy about this devastating conflict. He argues that from the 1860s the great powers had managed to maintain piece by diplomatic détente but that their dependency on this hit rock bottom in August, 1914. So, we have a view that the great powers stumbled into war, some eagerly (Germany) some reluctantly (GB). Also, he makes a strong argument that with the advent of the railways, massive mobilisation was not only achievable but could frighten, or provoke others into doing so. Interestingly, in this book, the Kaiser Wilhelm emerges with a posture, but not a real taste, for war. After reading this book, but in my view, it was a pity The Tsar, The Kaiser and George VI never got together for a cup of tea in 1914. War may have been averted. I accept this is a silly idea but no less silly than the cause of the war itself. I do not regard this book as the definitive account of the start of the Great War but, as usual, he writes s both informatively and interestingly. A good read!
This book concerns itself more with European History, rather than just being British focused, but War by Timetable is all the stronger for it. As with Norman Stone's recent book on WW1 the genius of Taylor is his brevity. There will be books twice as long as this one published in the next few years but they will, at best, say half as much.
Despite the grave subject matter there is still a wonderful, dry humour to Taylor's prose which popular historians of today might wish to emulate more, or be envious of.
This text follows pretty well a TV lecture he gave sometime in the 1960s or 70s, but is much more informed and researched. He concludes, with mesmerizing speed and detail, that the Great War was caused by two simple factors. First, that partial mobilisation of armies [as token shows of force] was regarded as impossible because of the railway timetable system across Europe. Second, that the very existence of the Schlieffen Plan was certain to create a premature response by Germany to any mobilisation, anywhere in Europe, and especially in Russia. So, as soon as the Austrian ultimatum to Serbia was rejected [more correctly ignored], a war became inevitable somewhere - and somewhere inevitably became everywhere because of the timetables.
Absolutely fascinating and a good read as much as any detective novel. In fact, better than most.
The copy I received has seen better days and is somewhat creased; but perfectly legible although not in such a condition that I would want to pass it on.
The 'timetable' of the title reflects the very complex transport arrangements necessary for the mobilization of an armed force - possibly running into millions of men. Partial mobilization was not workable: it was inevitably all or nothing.
Taylor writes: "Wilhelm II and the rest assumed that somehow war could be fitted in between a couple of vacations. Though they talked of war they could not imagine it. Their only military experience was on manoeuvres where action could be conveniently broken off at dinner time." "The 25th of July was a Saturday, and it was too much to expect that Sir Edward Grey would give up his weekend's fishing for a remote Balkan crisis"
In 1914 no one could imagine war on the scale of WW1. This book did much more than refresh my mind about the events leading to war. Strongly recommended.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great read, very illuminating, Hilarious at times, Written with a light, easy to read touch.Published 7 months ago by Richard Ford
Incredibly interesting and thought provoking. Muddled communications can ensure that
Deterrents do not all ways deter. Read more
Very concise book. Well written, I hadn't thought about the inevitability of WW1 commencing, having anything to do with the difficulty in doing anything other than full... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Amazon Customer
Very good introduction to why WWI broke out, written with his usual clarity. The most persuasive and readable English historian.Published 14 months ago by Ian Haworth
I hadn't read A J P Taylor since 'A' Level History in the early 80s. His style and clarity were instantly heard and I rattled through this book rapidly. Read morePublished 14 months ago by JaketheDax
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