The Great War not only destroyed the lives of over twenty million soldiers and civilians, it also ushered in a century of huge political and social upheaval, led directly to the Second World War and altered for ever the mechanisms of governments. And yet its causes, both long term and immediate, have continued to be shrouded in mystery.
In Europe's Last Summer, David Fromkin reveals a new pattern in the happenings of that fateful July and August, which leads in unexpected directions.
Rather than one war, starting with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, he sees two conflicts, related but not inseparably linked, whose management drew Europe and the world into what The Economist described as early as 1914 as 'perhaps the greatest tragedy in human history'.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 384 pages
- Publisher: Vintage Publishing
- Publication Date: 04/08/2005
- Category: European history
- ISBN: 9780099430841
- EPUB from £9.49
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Review by RobertDay
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.