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July 1914: Countdown to War (Hardcover)

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Despite the extensive scholarship to the contrary, the impression that Word War One "just happened" is persistent. McMeekin's excellently-detailed study of the month between the infamous assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo in June of 1914 and the actual outbreak of hostilities goes a long way to show how the supposed "surprise" war actually came about. Conflict had been seething for years in the Balkans, the Austrians were actively seeking a casus belli to demonstrate they were still a power in Europe, and the Germans thought they were playing a diplomatic game to keep Russia in its place. Into this, the all-important ingredient of Personality is added, and the fatal elixir of war was mixed. Written with a wry perceptiveness and an eye for how unspoken motivation can play an ominous part in great disasters, McMeekin's book provides clarity where so often there is only murk. I would recommend reading this as a companion to Barbara Tuchman's magnificent The Guns Of August. -- Mark's Pick 

Despite the extensive scholarship to the contrary, the impression that Word War One "just happened" is persistent.  McMeekin's excellently-detailed study of the month between the infamous assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo in June of 1914 and the actual outbreak of hostilities goes a long way to show how the supposed "surprise" war actually came about.  Conflict had been seething for years in the Balkans, the Austrians were actively seeking a casus belli to demonstrate they were still a power in Europe, and the Germans thought they were playing a diplomatic game to keep Russia in its place.  Into this, the all-important ingredient of Personality is added, and the fatal elixir of war was mixed.  Written with a wry perceptiveness and an eye for how unspoken motivation can play an ominous part in great disasters, McMeekin's book provides clarity where so often there is only murk. I would recommend reading this as a companion to Barbara Tuchman's magnificent The Guns Of August. -- Mark

— From Mark's Picks

Description


When a Serbian-backed assassin gunned down Archduke Franz Ferdinand in late June 1914, the world seemed unmoved. Even Ferdinand's own uncle, Franz Josef I, was notably ambivalent about the death of the Hapsburg heir, saying simply, It is God's will. Certainly, there was nothing to suggest that the episode would lead to conflictmuch less a world war of such massive and horrific proportions that it would fundamentally reshape the course of human events.
As acclaimed historian Sean McMeekin reveals in "July 1914," World War I might have been avoided entirely had it not been for a small group of statesmen who, in the month after the assassination, plotted to use Ferdinand's murder as the trigger for a long-awaited showdown in Europe. The primary culprits, moreover, have long escaped blame. While most accounts of the war's outbreak place the bulk of responsibility on German and Austro-Hungarian militarism, McMeekin draws on surprising new evidence from archives across Europe to show that the worst offenders were actually to be found in Russia and France, whose belligerence and duplicity ensured that war was inevitable.
Whether they plotted for war or rode the whirlwind nearly blind, each of the men involvedfrom Austrian Foreign Minister Leopold von Berchtold and German Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Sazonov and French president Raymond Poincaresought to capitalize on the fallout from Ferdinand's murder, unwittingly leading Europe toward the greatest cataclysm it had ever seen.
A revolutionary account of the genesis of World War I, "July 1914" tells the gripping story of Europe's countdown to war from the bloody opening act on June 28th to Britain's final plunge on August 4th, showing how a single monthand a handful of menchanged the course of the twentieth century.

About the Author


Sean McMeekin is an assistant professor of history at Koc University. He is the author of four highly acclaimed books, including The Russian Origins of the First World War, which won the World War One Historical Association's Tomlinson Prize, and The Berlin to Baghdad Express, which won the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies' Barbara Jelavich Book Prize. McMeekin lives in Istanbul, Turkey.


Product Details
ISBN: 9780465031450
ISBN-10: 0465031455
Publisher: Basic Books (AZ)
Publication Date: April 9th, 2013
Pages: 461
Language: English