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Customer Review

5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Taylor, pithy, beautifully written and original, 14 July 2014
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This review is from: War by Timetable: How the First World War Began (Kindle Edition)
Classic AJP Taylor, the book is written with real verve in a wonderfully engaging style that mixes waspish observations with an original and fiercely independent analysis of the events. Concise, the book moves along at a heady pace and gives a logical and well ordered narrative of the diplomatic blunders that led to the catastrophe of WW1. Taylor had a peculiar talent for being able to explain events in a way which simultaneously avoided simple villains who provide convenient scapegoats whilst castigating those whom he considered responsible for terrible events. Impeccably researched, balanced and a book which a casual reader can enjoy just as much as a serious student of history this has stood the test of time extremely well. Whilst Taylor's often iconoclastic ideas and his relish at engaging in academic feuds may have upset many it is quite marked that many of his works have stood the time far better than those of his detractors and still attract readers. Central to Taylor's account is that fundamental difference between mobilisation in Germany when compared to the other great powers. Taylor demonstrates that whilst for Russia and Austria-Hungary mobilisation did not necessarily mean war, in the case of Germany the inflexible war plan meant that a decision for mobilisation was in actuality a decision for war with both France and Russia. Something which may surprise many is that Taylor presents a good case that Wilhelm II far from being the motive force towards war was actually one of the few key actors in the drama who tried to find a reasonable solution with his proposal for the halt in Belgrade whilst "the good German" Bethmann-Hollweg was instrumental in driving the decisions that led to a general war. Very highly recommended.
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