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Dreadnought. Britain, Germany, and the…
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Dreadnought. Britain, Germany, and the Coming of the Great War (1991)

by Robert K. Massie

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Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
Left unfinished; after the author completely overlooked the Venezuela Incident as one of the causes of the naval arms race, I lost interest. ( )
  BruceCoulson | Jan 27, 2014 |
This book got half a star because of its availability. If you don't have a basic book for European diplomacy, mostly British and German, and you don't like Tuchman, it's a perfectly good basic account. The best part of it deals with the German Cabinet, whose coverage is usually skimpy in English language books. ( )
1 vote DinadansFriend | Oct 27, 2013 |
This substantial book is a study of the relationship between Britain and Germany in the years leading up to the First World War. It covers the political and military personalities in some considerable detail, and takes the reader from the era of Bismarck up to the outbreak of war itself.

The studies of individuals are quite fascinating. Not only do we get the movers and shakers of the day, but we also see lesser-known personalities such as ambassadors, second-rank politicians and Admirals. I warmed in particular to Henry Campbell-Bannerman, Liberal Prime Minister from 1905 - 1908, who from this reading appears to have been a surprisingly decent person. And it was intriguing to see how little things have changed in the world: the Liberal party were liable to splinter and defect to the Conservatives (I had not previously grasped that the 'Unionists' in 'Conservative & Unionist Party' were Liberals who split from their own party on the question of Irish home Rule and crossed the floor of the House to side with the Conservatives); German foreign policy was dependent on driving a wedge between France and Britain; and the Daily Mail was a xenophobic hate rag in 1905!

The story is one of mounting military and political tension between Britain and Germany, two nations which held each other in high regard and which had close ties through Royalty, Kaiser Wilhelm II being a grandson of Queen Victoria. The first years of the Twentieth century had so much tension that war was almost inevitable; yet on the eve of war, relations between Britain and Germany were as cordial as ever and indeed had improved in the months preceding the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. Yet once that act took place, the intricacies of interlocking alliances, and the insistence of each side on sticking to their policies irrespective of what it was actually sensible to do, made war inevitable.

Some more detail on the political situation in the Balkans would have been helpful; we are mainly discussing Germany and Britain, and looking at events from those two countries' points of view; and then we are suddenly faced with the Austro-Hungarian position vis-a-vis Serbia when this had hardly been discussed. And the relationship between Germany and Austria - who fought a war in the 1860s over which of them should be Top Dog in central Europe, and which Austria lost - needs further analysis. Having defeated Austria, it seems strange to us that Germany considered Austria a major ally. The psychology of 19th and early 20th century German politics also has a great bearing on this; all these are subjects little touched on by Massie. But then again, this book is big enough already!

The 'Schlieffen plan', enabling Germany to contemplate a war on two fronts, is also little discussed, surprisingly. By requiring any war in the East to be prefaced with a war in the west to rapidly knock out France purely on the grounds that it would be dangerous not to do so, is considered by many to be the final step that made war unavoidable, and the German General staff's insistence that this was the course that must be followed has to be a major contributory factor. Massie explains why it was that the German military establishment came to this conclusion - basically because of everything that had happened up until then - and ultimately that is the subject of the book. ( )
  RobertDay | Apr 14, 2013 |
Dreadnought by Robert K. Massie

Dreadnought
By Robert K. Massie
Publisher: Random House
Published In: New York, NY
Date: 1991
Pgs: 1007

Summary:
This follows the lives and times of the movers and shakers in Britain and Germany in the lead up to World War One. The politicians and royals speeches and papers are used to give them voice as the shaping events move inexorably toward war. It begins with Trafalgar in 1805 and flows through the reign of Queen Victoria up to the declaration of war by the United Kingdom following the currents and foibles of the nations as they dance on the world stage.

Genre:
history, europe, world war 1

Main Character:
Emperor William II of Germany, Winston Churchill, Admiral Jacky Fisher

Favorite Character:
Call it a toss up between Winston and Jacky

Least Favorite Character:
Admiral Lord Charles Beresford who seemed to be more interested in his personal power exhibited through his defense of the status quo in the British Navy which could have been disastrous. And William II who seemed to play the spoiled royal grandson of Queen Victoria who was going to get his way in Germany, come hell or high water. He got both.

Favorite Scene:
When Churchill debates Beresford on the floor of the House of Commons.

Plot Holes/Out of Character:
I know it exceeds the focus of the book on Britain and Germany and the growth of their navies in the prewar years, but I would have liked a bit more focus on French, Austrian, Russian, and Italian politicians and royals in the same candid vein the British and German were visited.

Last Page Sound:
Can’t believe I’m finally finished. And…that’s it? It closes with the Germans making it clear that they are going to cross through Belgium and violate their neutrality to attack France. Both things that the British couldn’t allow. The books ends without a shot fired. But if it would have gone to that point where would the stopping point have been…the book already clocked in at 1007 pages. All around a good book.

Author Assessment:
Excellent. If something else of his crosses my view, I will strongly consider reading it.

Disposition of Book:
I’m going to offer it to Sarah and if she doesn’t want it, I’m going to put it on my Half Price Books stack. ( )
  texascheeseman | May 23, 2012 |
An excellent book on the run-up to World War 1. Dreadnought refers to the British warship that redefined ( and made obsolete) an entire class of vessels. Well researched thumbnail bios of all the key people are terrific. Very enjoyable and entertaining piece of history writing. ( )
  Whiskey3pa | Dec 20, 2011 |
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Fir Kim Massie, Jack May, Charles Davis, and Edmund Keeley Amicis a Iuvenibus and for Deborah
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345375564, Paperback)

"A classic [that] covers superbly a whole era...Engrossing in its glittering gallery of characters."
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES
Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Robert K. Massie has written a richly textured and gripping chronicle of the personal and national rivalries that led to the twentieth century's first great arms race. Massie brings to vivid life, such historical figures as the single-minded Admiral von Tirpitz, the young, ambitious, Winston Churchill, the ruthless, sycophantic Chancellor Bernhard von Bulow, and many others. Their story, and the story of the era, filled with misunderstandings, missed opportunities, and events leading to unintended conclusions, unfolds like a Greek tratedy in his powerful narrative. Intimately human and dramatic, DREADNOUGHT is history at its most riveting.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:42:23 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Robert K. Massie has written a richly textured and gripping chronicle of the personal and national rivalries that led to the twentieth century's first great arms race. Massie brings to vivid life, such historical figures as the single-minded Admiral von Tirpitz, the young, ambitious, Winston Churchill, the ruthless, sycophantic Chancellor Bernhard von Bulow, and many others. Their story, and the story of the era, filled with misunderstandings, missed opportunities, and events leading to unintended conclusions, unfolds like a Greek tratedy in his powerful narrative. Intimately human and dramatic, DREADNOUGHT is history at its most riveting.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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