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4.7 out of 5 stars
H von Moltke Origin First World War (New Studies in European History)
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on 16 July 2014
This is a tough read written by an academic not a journalist. She manages to explain the mind of a man found inadequate to the task that he virtually snatched for himself,despite the misgivings of the Kaiser. The military aspects are dealt with simply and go far to establish that this General was leading the German Army when he was responsible for the errors of two of his corps commanders lost his vision and varied his order to maintain the right flank in strength. This was the General who lost the war for the Germans within seven weeks of the start of their advance. It is essential reading for an understanding of what went on first in Berlin in July and what went on in the advance into Belgium and France in August 1914.
This is a reflective book that alters perceptions and reveals the Germans as some villains but mostly foolish.
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on 23 August 2013
The material is very nicely set out and organised for the reader. The author's summaries and comments are objective and thoughtful. It is strange that there are so many bad books on the Great War that sell very well, but this kind of clear, honest and professionally competent contribution is mainly read by specialists.
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on 16 April 2017
Good in depth account of the Imperial German army's responsibility for pushing Europe into conflict (By a German author)
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on 23 April 2006
I must say that I am very impressed by Annika Mombauers book.

I think it is very interesting how she for instance describes the differences between the environment Moltke operates in contrast to the environment Joffre operates in. Both of them see it as a good idea to go through Belgium from a military stand point, but Joffre recognize that he can't do it from a political point of view. President Poincare is also against because it would violate Belgiums neutrality and thereby the relationship to Britain. This is also interesting because this also questions Niall Fergusons idea that France and Britain would violate Belgiums neutrality without prior German violation, which I think is out of the question.

It is also interesting to see how Moltkes warmongering is partly due to fear that Russia would be stronger than Germany from 1917 onwards (and he therefore needs to strike now), and partly due to that he had an inferior complex because he was always compared to his great uncle.

I think that his biggest mistake he made by far was not either to carry out the Schlieffen Plan with a strong right flank as intended or much better have developed a plan with an Eastern concentration, which would not have given a quick decision as hoped for with the Schlieffen Plan.

The big advantages of this was that it would have allowed for more political room for manouvre, Britain would not have been brought in right away if Belgium or France was not threatened and by concentration in the East Germany could have secured Austria-Hungary and maybe brought Rumania in on the side of the Central Powers and eventually beaten Russia as they did anyway in 1917-18.

Moltke feared anyway that his revised Schlieffen Plan would not deliver a quick decision, so it is unforgiveable that he did not develop a real alternative with a concentration in the East, which would have been much better politically. But it again proves the point that the German general staff operated detached from political considerations and control.
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