The First World War followed a period of sustained peace in Europe during which people talked with confidence of prosperity, progress and hope. But in 1914, Europe walked into a catastrophic conflict which killed millions of its men, bled its economies dry, shook empires and societies to pieces, and fatally undermined Europe's dominance of the world. It was a war which could have been avoided up to the last moment - so why did it happen?
Beginning in the early nineteenth century, and ending with the assassination of Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand, award-winning historian Margaret MacMillan uncovers the huge political and technological changes, national decisions and - just as important - the small moments of human muddle and weakness that led Europe from peace to disaster. This masterful exploration of how Europe chose its path towards war will change and enrich how we see this defining moment in our history.
Margaret Macmillan is an acclaimed historian and has won the Samuel Johnson Prize, the Duff Cooper Prize and the Hessell-Tiltman Prize for Peacemakers: The Paris Conference of 1919. She is the author of numerous books, and she is the warden of St Anthony's College, Oxford.
©2013 Margaret MacMillan (P)2013 Audible Ltd
"Magisterial Book Read Brilliantly"
Absolutely. First of all, it's a great book. I took a deep breath earlier this year and plunged headlong into the great coursing centenary stream. Have read five or six books – Hastings', Hochschild's, Paxman's, etc. – all of them good. But this is the best. It's unfailingly intelligent. It's wonderfully clear. It's brimming with marvelous, telling details. (The best sort of details - illustrative nuggets.) And, yes, it's gripping. And part and parcel of the whole package, so to speak (so to speak indeed), it's beautifully read, performed, not quite sure what the word is. Richard Burnip is a joy to listen to. His voice is clear. He's got great range. He's got authority. And best of all, perhaps, there was nothing show offy about the read. It was exactly what I was hoping it would be: thoughtful, intelligent, clear, nuanced, assured. I thought it was perfectly judged. He does Margaret Macmillan's words justice. What more could you ask? For the record, I didn't find his reading slow. I thought it was timed to perfection. It peered into the book's depths, it brought out nuance. Writing of this calibre has its own cadence.That needs to be respected. Honoured even. This did. This isn't a canter-through book. Everything about it - from subject matter to phrasing - commands one's deepest admiration. And needs to be savoured. The "performance" was absolutely right for the book.
Any of the one's I've already mentioned. All of them were, well, worthwhile. But this one takes the laurel. Why? Because it was more thoughtful, more measured, more perceptive - ultimately more intelligent. World War I is a huge subject and the book opened up more of it than the others. Last but not least, it was a relief that for once here was a war book where one never felt the tug of that god awful force field: "boys and their toys."
I haven't. But I'll certainly be looking for him in the future.
Ridiculous question. This isn't Michael Herr's Dispatches. Or Crane's Red Badge of Courage. Or a short story. It's a big demanding book. A cathedral of a book. As opposed to a bungalow. I was very glad it was what it was. It was several "one sittings". And all the better for being so.
"An Excellent Insight"
Yes. Though easy to follow and well read by Richard Burnip there is so much to take in that I will definitely listen again. I know I will get new detail from a second "reading".
Not from my reading so far. Most of my earlier reading about WW1 has been about the war itself. This is much more about what happened which led to the war. It covers many historical events of which I was aware but which I hadn't previously linked together in the way the author does. The interconnections all make sense and it helped me put clarity and context to late 19th and early 20th century history.
There were many but mostly the realisation that most of the statesmen genuinely thought that, as in previous crises, something would happen at the last minute to stop the war form happening. Also the naivety of those who really believed "it would be over by Christmas".
It is a long book at 24 chapters and over 31 hours on Audible. Well worth the time for anyone interested in European history and in particular the events surrounding The Great War.
"A Real Marathon!"
This is a beautifully paced, exquisitely detailed history of Europe's steady slide towards war in August 2014. It is well crafted as a story, with no loopholes.
No single memorable moment.
He is to be congratulated for such consistency in a reading that lasts for about 30 hours! His pronunciation of foreign names etc is superb.
No idea! Is that the best question you can think to ask?
Only that there appears to be some problem with the downloads for this book. In the first hour of Part 3, I was aware that at least an hour of the story was being repeated. I downloaded all the files again, but this was still there.
Best sort of history. Covers major participants in build up to declarations of war. Full of poignant facts and insightful descriptions of political leaders. Very well written and fascinating from start to finish.
Author also wrot brilliant account of post war peace conference. Had to actually read that as not available on Audible!
Calm, measured delivery.
Too many to mention.
Err. Why do reviews have to be written in this way!
"background to the causes of WW1"
well researched , educational
the way it showed the interactions and alliances over a prolonged period of time across various nations
Where the Kaiser and chiefs of staff celebrated that they had avoided France coming into any conflict and then getting deflated because there had been amisunderstanding between the French and Sir Edward Gray . Just showed how things were easily misunderstood
Not just an assassination
Its lengthy but that is only to be expected of such a weighty topic that requires in depth explanations of the subject . Because the cast of characters are already well known to even a part time student of history it is very easy to follow the narrative and sequence of events
"Compelling Account of the March to War"
No, I always prefer the print versions!
Very well executed, handled the numerous characters with aplomb.
In many ways the book was very sad - towards the end you began to understand why war was almost unavoidable given the characters involved and their history.
"Understand The world and its leaders before WW1"
A balanced, thorough account of the world before the First World War. It is not until the eighteenth chapter that the assassination of the Archduke France Ferdinand, the event that set off the chain of events that led to the First World War is covered. The book is concerned with why the Great War happened, and argues that one incident and how the Great Powers reacted to it, cannot alone explain why the First World War happened. A complete answer to that question isn’t possible, but “The War That Ended Peace” explores in details many factors from several angles relevant at the time.
The first chapter offers an insight into the world in 1900. Chapters 2-8 enable the reader to develop an understanding of the important decision makers of the five Great Powers that went to war in 1914, and their perspectives on other Great Powers. The ninth and tenth chapters are about the beliefs held by influential people prior to the First World War, and the impact their beliefs had on their actions before the war began. Chapters eleven and twelve are about military theories and how they shaped perceptions of what war between Great Powers would be like.
Chapters 13-17 are about the crisis that could have led to war between the Great Powers prior to the First World War. Chapters 18-20 thoroughly cover events from the assassination of the Archduke France Ferdinand to Britain declaring war on Germany.
My only criticism of this book is its references to modern international politics. In my opinion, these are unnecessary. However, they are brief and did not spoil my enjoyment of the book.
Richard Burnip reads the book with consistent clarity, and in a manner that enables the reader to absorb the information.
An excellent and thorough account of the many reasons for the breakout of the First World War. Highly recommended to anyone with an interest in history.
"Informative, comprehensive and enlightening"
My knowledge of the ' Great War ' was limited. I knew nothing of the many complexities of Europe and the internecine entanglements of the governing hierarchies . In a masterful analysis Margaret Macmillan guided me through a fascinating analysis of all the players and many of the byways and intricacies of the years that led to 1914. A most definitive survey of all the surrounding facts.
"Too dry and haotic."
Someone with insomnia?
No. But I'm much more cautious now.
I returned it. It's sad that despite the anniversary there seems to be no good book to listen to on the subject. Great War was fascinating in terms of warfare, life on the front line, casualties, effect on the society at home during and after. Most books are dry historical facts, overloaded with names and dates. Sad.
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