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Europe's Last Summer: Who Started the Great…

Europe's Last Summer: Who Started the Great War in 1914? (2004)

by David Fromkin

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A concise, accessible, and absorbing chronicle of the weeks leading up to the outbreak of the Great War following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Fromkin argues that there was not an accidental slide into bloody conflict exacerbated by complex alliances, ideologies, racism, or fervent nationalism. He pins the blame on the Central Powers, arguing that the war was the product of a deliberate agenda on the part of the military elite in Germany and, to a lesser degree, in Austria. ( )
  Sullywriter | May 22, 2015 |
A concise and readable study of the last few weeks of peace in 1914. Early on, I felt the author was rushing the story and glossing over some key points; I quickly realised that that was the only way to keep a general reader interested and to sort through the complex events of July 1914. Fromkin does concentrate on the who and the when, and whilst he describes many of the underlying features of international politics in the decade before the outbreak of war, this is not his main hypothesis. But he does set these issues into their proper place in the general context; and he does point out that it only takes one country to start a war.

He places the blame mostly on the shoulders of von Moltke, who advocated war between Germany and Russia before Russia became too powerful, and who manouvered Kaiser Wilhelm into offering Austria a "blank cheque" for its long-planned war against Serbia, knowing that this would draw Russia into conflict and giving Germany the pretext of waging war on Russia. He also dismisses the long-held opinion that the war was the result of the interlocking political landscape of international alliances; I feel that this is an over-simplification. To me, the alliances and treaties were what turned an Eastern European war into a world war.

Still: the reasons for Germany's and Austria's actions are properly examined and if you are looking for a good single source on the origins of World War I, this is the one I would recommend. ( )
1 vote RobertDay | Feb 5, 2014 |
An excellent and readable account of the summer of 1914, although I found the title somewhat annoying, as we have had plenty of summers since 1914, but a small quibble. David Fromkin explains the complex web of events very clearly and concisely. He also sums up the action after a few chapters, useful if you haven't quite followed things or missed something. I am no expert on these events but for me he gave the latest research and thinking and often summarised previous or alternative ideas around disputed ideas. The story is told in a clear time-line and it was an interesting and even gripping tale, well told. ( )
1 vote Tifi | Apr 21, 2013 |
3873. Europe's Last Summer: Who Started the Great War in 1914?, by David Fromkin (read 7 Apr 2004) Mainly because I was so impressed by Fromkin's A Peace to End All Peace: Creating the Modern Middle East 1914-1922 (read 28 Jan 1996) and In the Time of the Americans FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Marshall, MacArthur -- The Generation That Changed America's Role in the World (read 18 Feb 1996), I read this new book by him (though with a title like that how could I not read it?) It is on a subject on which I have read much, including Sidney Bradshaw Fay's two volumes (in 1968) and Luigi Albertini's three volumes (in 1986). This book is easy to read and is not reluctant to arrive at conclusions, all of which I liked. He says there were two wars: Austria's against Serbia, which von Berchtold and Conrad wanted, and the war on Russia, which Helmuth con Moltke, the German Army chief of staff wanted. While the book is not well footnoted, it is still pretty persuasive. A great book on an endlessly fascinating subject. ( )
2 vote Schmerguls | Nov 3, 2007 |
Very interesting book on the events leading up to the start of WWI. After reading this book you will understand that many of the causes that lead to the eventual rise of the Third Reich had their genesis prior to the start of the WWI. The authors style is a bit off, but that was really the only down side. A must read. ( )
2 vote meegeekai | Feb 5, 2007 |
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The peremptory transition form an apparently profound peace to violent general war in a few mid-summer weeks in 1914 continues to defy attempts at explanation.-John Keegan, The First World War
For Alain Silvera
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Shortly after eleven o'clock at night on Sunday, December 29, 1997, United Airlines Flight 826, a Boeing 747 carrying 374 passengers and 19 crew, was two hours into its scheduled trip across the Pacific from Tokyo to Honolulu.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 037572575X, Paperback)

When war broke out in Europe in 1914, it surprised a European population enjoying the most beautiful summer in memory. For nearly a century since, historians have debated the causes of the war. Some have cited the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand; others have concluded it was unavoidable.

In Europe’s Last Summer, David Fromkin provides a different answer: hostilities were commenced deliberately. In a riveting re-creation of the run-up to war, Fromkin shows how German generals, seeing war as inevitable, manipulated events to precipitate a conflict waged on their own terms. Moving deftly between diplomats, generals, and rulers across Europe, he makes the complex diplomatic negotiations accessible and immediate. Examining the actions of individuals amid larger historical forces, this is a gripping historical narrative and a dramatic reassessment of a key moment in the twentieth-century.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:27 -0400)

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"The early summer of 1914 was the most glorious Europeans could remember. But, behind the scenes, the most destructive war the world had yet known was moving inexorably into being, a war that would continue to resonate into the twenty-first century. The question of how it began has long vexed historians. Many have cited the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand; other have concluded that it was nobody's fault. But David Fromkin - whose account is based on the latest scholarship - provides a different answer. He makes plain that hostilities were commenced deliberately." "In a gripping narrative that has eerie parallels to events in our own time, Fromkin shows that not one but two wars were waged, and that the first served as pretext for the second. Shedding light on such current issues as pre-emptive war and terrorism, he provides detailed descriptions of the negotiations and incisive portraits of the diplomats, generals, and rulers - the Kaiser of Germany, the Czar of Russia, the Prime Minister of England, among other key players. And he reveals how and why diplomacy was doomed to fail."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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