Top positive review
Detailed and fasinating read.
on 27 April 2018
An explosive account of the build up out break and early months of WWI. Hastings always willing to give his opinion but also trying to stay faithful to the evidence gives his assessment of the state of Europe in 1914 while making it clear that in his view Germany shoulders the majority of the blame for the war which engulfed Europe.
Hastings is pretty scathing in his assessment of Moltke, Joffre and Sir John French who he believes made careless and costly mistakes which they showed no sign of learning from. French in fact seems reluctant to have fought at all and made endless disparaging remarks about his allies.
A central theme in the book is that the weaponry, particularly artillery and machines guns meant huge damaged could now be inflicted on battlefields like never before seen. However in all armies across the nations their transport and communication systems lagged behind and their tactics were antiquated. Hastings seems less than impressed with the Prime Minister Herbert Asquith who while in Hasting's view correctly took the country to war and dispatched the BEF to France failed to prepare the country for total war. The Royal Navy was perhaps the only section of the armed forces properly prepared for the conflict though the Navy was still too effected by a "Trafalgar mentality" expecting a large showdown between capital ships.
The structure of the book follows the various fronts once the war commences, for instance there is a chapter on the failed Austrian invasion of Serbia, a chapter on the failed Russian invasion of East Prussia and a chapter on the failed invasion of Western France. There is another chapter on the naval battles in 1914.