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The Origins of the War of 1914, Volume 2

by Luigi Albertini

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Origins of the War of 1914 (2)

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212880,987 (4.38)None
A classic because of its comprehensive treatment of the subject, Albertini's book has been out of print for half a century. Beginning with the Congress of Berlin in 1878, Albertini traces the pattern of events that led Europe to the greatest cataclysm ever faced.

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Finishing this book gave me a sense of accomplishment. 688 pages of some very dense history that tells about one of the most important events of the 20th century. WWI truly changed the face of Europe and initiated a century of violence the like of which the world had never seen.
The author of the book was a fascinating man. Luigi Albertini, the perfect Italian name. He had been active as a politician and owned one-half of an influential newspaper. After Mussolini came into power he had to retire from politics and sell his interest in the newspaper. He worked for years writing the authoritative history of the beginning of WWI.
I would estimate that 50% of the text of the book is excerpts from documents, telegrams, notes of meetings, diplomatic correspondence and every other primary source you can imagine. The author includes material from interviews of many of the principle men involved in the action. The book is very informative and detailed as the author covers country by country in a narrative format the actions of the Great Powers as they stumble towards disaster.
It is hard to explain but I could definitely tell that I was reading a book written by a European and not an American. I have read Guns of August several times and this author's slant on events was much different. The focus of the book was the conflict between Austria-Hungary and Serbia that started the war. Germany, Russia and England are next in importance then France and Italy. The events that led up to the war, the diplomatic history, is the author's area of concentration.
The author shows great command of his sources as he evaluates the actions of the different parties. He highlights the duplicity of the Austria-Hungarians and the simplicity of the Russians. The Tsar signs orders that he doesn't really understand and then says "God's will be done". The author also uses documents to show how in their official histories many of the nations involved distorted events and lied about what was said at the time.
I truly enjoyed the three page narration of the Archduke's drive through Sarajevo up to the point of his assassination. Another precious item was the narration by someone who was there of Bismarck's statement of how "one day the great European, war would grow out of some foolish thing in the Balkans."
My major problem with the book was trying to keep track of who was who and remembering their names. I just did the best I could to keep track of what was going on.
Good book and not for everybody. The pleasure was in the information I learned and not the entertainment value of the book. ( )
1 vote wildbill | Mar 4, 2013 |
1999 The Origins of the War of 1914: Volume II, by Luigi Albertini translated and edited by Isabella M. Massey (read 2 May 1986) This is the second of the three-volume monumental study of the days of 1914 before the outbreak of the war. This volume covers the time from June 28 to July 30-31, 1914. It seems obvious blame for the war is shared: mistakes were made by all. At the last minute Germany even tried to step back from the brink of disaster. How different history would have been if a few things had gone differently! ( )
  Schmerguls | Aug 10, 2008 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Luigi Albertiniprimary authorall editionscalculated
Massey, Isabella M.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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A classic because of its comprehensive treatment of the subject, Albertini's book has been out of print for half a century. Beginning with the Congress of Berlin in 1878, Albertini traces the pattern of events that led Europe to the greatest cataclysm ever faced.

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