On a summer morning in Sarajevo almost 100 years ago, a teenager took a pistol out of his pocket and fired not just the opening rounds of the First World War but the starting gun for modern history. By killing Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Gavrilo Princip started a cycle of events that would leave 15 million dead from fighting between 1914 and 1918 and that proved fatal for empires and a way of ruling that had held for centuries.
The Trigger tells the story of a young man who changed the world forever. It focuses on the drama of the incident itself by following Princip's journey. By retracing his steps from the feudal frontier village of his birth, through the mountains of the northern Balkans to the great plain city of Belgrade, and ultimately to Sarajevo, Tim Butcher illuminates our understanding of Princip and makes discoveries about him that have eluded historians for a hundred years. Traveling through the Balkans on Princip's trail, and drawing on his own experiences there as a war reporter during the 1990s, Butcher unravels this complex part of the world and its conflicts, and shows how the events that were sparked that day in June 1914 still have influence today. Published for the centenary of the assassination, The Trigger is a rich and timely work, part travelogue, part reportage, and part history.
©2014 Tim Butcher (P)2014 Tantor
This book is not what I thought it was going to be. From the title, I assumed that there was some sort of hunt after Gavrilo Princip. I was expecting a carefully plotted assassination, followed by a daring escape and concluding with some brilliant detective work to bring the man to justice. In reality Gavrilo is caught immediately. There is no hunt. Instead the author uses the word hunt as a metaphor for his journey to understanding about Gavrilo Princep and modern Bosnia. I think that more than half of the history in this book has nothing to do with WWI, or Gavrilo, and instead is more about the 1990s and the civil war between the Bosnian Serbs, Bosnian Croats, and Bosnian Muslims. If you are looking for a book about those things this is the book for you; it is well written with good emotion and many interesting insights. The narration went unnoticed, which is a compliment. In the end the author does tie everything back to Gavrilo Princip, which was fascinating, but on the whole this is not the book I was looking for.
A while ago, I bought an audiobook that meticulously detailed every event of the Italian theater of war in World War 2. I cannot remember one, lasting image or fact from that book. So, what you have here is a non-typical book about a historical figure- Gav Principe. It's more of a travelogue and stream-of-consciousness with historical facts thrown in. In the beginning, I was kind of thrown off but I am glad I stuck with it. Personally, I retain knowledge better from a book like this. I found it to be very rich. And since I was not born in the UK, I found the author's musings about the first world war and its effects on his home town and family rather interested. If you want a straightforward history book about the assasin, don't get this. But I liked the book very much and almost anything Gerard Doyle turns into gold anyway.
Tim Butcher presents a balanced portrait of the trigger for the first world war. By retracing the footsteps of the assassin as well as placing him in the context of his times and history, one cannot but get carried along. I learned a lot about Bosnia and its ensuing history. I am encouraged to read more about this period in history and to further explore Tim Butcher's other writings.
Kind of dry. It's a hard read, but interesting if you want the history on the assassin who started everything.
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