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The War that Ended Peace: How Europe abandoned peace for the First World War par [MacMillan, Margaret]
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Longueur : 704 pages Word Wise: Activé Composition améliorée: Activé
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Chapter 1

Europe in 1900

On April 14, 1900, Emile Loubet, the President of France, talked approvingly about justice and human kindness as he opened the Paris Universal Exposition. There was little kindness to be found in the press comments at the time. The exhibitions were not ready; the site was a dusty mess of building works; and almost everyone hated the giant statue over the entrance of a woman modeled on the actress Sarah Bernhardt and dressed in a fashionable evening dress. Yet the Exposition went on to be a triumph, with over 50 million visitors.

In style and content the Exposition partly celebrated the glories of the past and each nation displayed its national treasures—whether paintings, sculptures, rare books or scrolls—and its national activities. So where the Canadian pavilion had piles of furs, the Finnish showed lots of wood, and the Portuguese decorated their pavilion with ornamental fish. Many of the European pavilions mimicked great Gothic or Renaissance buildings, although little Switzerland built a chalet. The Chinese copied a part of the Forbidden City in Beijing and Siam (today Thailand) put up a pagoda. The Ottoman Empire, that dwindling but still great state which stretched from the Balkans in southern Europe through Turkey to the Arab Middle East, chose a pavilion which was a jumble of styles, much like its own peoples who included Christians, Muslims and Jews and many different ethnicities. With colored tiles and bricks, arches, towers, Gothic windows, elements of mosques, of the Grand Bazaar from Constantinople (now Istanbul), it was fitting that the overall result still somehow resembled the Hagia Sophia, once a great Christian church that became a mosque after the Ottoman conquest.

Germany’s pavilion was surmounted by a statue of a herald blowing a trumpet, suitable, perhaps, for the newest of the great European powers. Inside was an exact reproduction of Frederick the Great’s library; tactfully the Germans did not focus on his military victories, many of them over France. The western facade hinted, though, at a new rivalry, the one which was developing between Germany and the world’s greatest naval power, Great Britain: a panel showed a stormy sea with sirens calling and had a motto rumored to be written by Germany’s ruler, Kaiser Wilhelm II, himself: “Fortune’s star invites the courageous man to pull up the anchor and throw himself into the conquest of the waves.” Elsewhere at the Exposition were reminders of the rapidly burgeoning power of a country that had only come into existence in 1871; the Palace of Electricity contained a giant crane from Germany which could lift 25,000 kilos.

Austria-Hungary, Germany’s closest friend in Europe, had two separate pavilions, one for each half of what had come to be known as the Dual Monarchy. The Austrian one was a triumph of Art Nouveau, the new style which had been catching on in Europe. Marble cherubs and dolphins played around its fountains, giant statues held up its staircases and every inch of its walls appeared to be covered by gold leaf, precious stones, happy or sad masks, or garlands. A grand reception room was set aside for members of the Habsburg family which had presided for centuries over the great empire stretching from the center of Europe down to the Alps and Adriatic, and the exhibits showed off the work of Poles, Czechs, and South Slavs from the Dalmatian coast, only some of the Dual Monarchy’s many peoples. Next to the Austrian pavilion and separating it from that of Hungary stood a smaller one, representing the little province of Bosnia, still technically part of the Ottoman Empire but administered since 1878 from Vienna. The Bosnian pavilion, with its lovely decorations by craftsmen from its capital of Sarajevo, looked, said the guide published by Hachette, like a young girl being brought out into the world for the first time by her parents.1 (And they were not particularly happy ones at that.)

The mood of the Hungarian pavilion was strongly nationalistic. (Austrian critics said sourly that the folk art on display was vulgar and its colors too bright.) The exhibits also included a reconstruction of the great citadel of Comorn (Komáron) in the north which stood in the way of the Ottomans in the sixteenth century as they stretched northwards into Europe. Much more recently, in 1848, it had been held by Hungarian nationalists in the revolt against the Habsburgs but had fallen to Austrian forces in 1849. Another room was dedicated to the Hussars, famous for their bravery in the wars against the Ottomans. The exhibits paid less attention though to the millions of non-Hungarian peoples, Croatians or Rumanians, for example, who lived within Hungary’s borders.

Italy, like Germany a new country and a great power more by courtesy than in reality, had built what looked like a vast, richly decorated cathedral. On its golden dome stood a giant eagle, its wings outstretched in triumph. Inside it was filled with art from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, but the glories of the past could weigh heavily on a poor young country. Britain, by contrast, chose to be low key even though it still dominated much of the world’s trade and manufacturing and had the world’s biggest navy and largest empire. Its exhibit was housed in a cozy country house designed by rising young architect Edwin Lutyens in the half-timbered Tudor style and consisted mainly of English paintings from the eighteenth century. Some private British owners had refused to lend their works because Britain’s relations with France, traditionally difficult, were particularly strained in 1900.2

Russia had pride of place at the Exposition as France’s favored ally. The Russian exhibits were huge and scattered in several different locations, ranging from a massive palace in the style of the Kremlin dedicated to Siberia to a richly decorated pavilion named in honor of the Tsar’s mother, Empress Marie. Visitors could admire, among much else, a map of France made in precious stones which the Tsar, Nicholas II, had sent as a present to the French and marvel at the sheer extent of the Romanovs’ possessions. The French themselves did not have their own pavilion; the whole Exposition was after all designed to be a monument to French civilization, French power, French industry and agriculture, and French colonies, and room after room in the different special exhibits was devoted to French achievements. The French section of the Palais des Beaux-Arts was, said the guide, naturally a model of good taste and luxury. The Exposition marked the reassertion by France that it was still a great power, even though only thirty years previously it had been utterly defeated as it had tried to prevent Germany coming into existence.

The Universal Exposition was nevertheless, the French declared, a “symbol of harmony and peace” for all of humanity. Although the more than forty countries exhibiting in Paris were mainly European, the United States, China, and several Latin American countries also had pavilions. As a reminder though of where power still lay, a large part of the Exposition was given over to colonies where the European powers showed off their possessions. The crowds could marvel at exotic plants and beasts, walk by replicas of African villages, watch craftsmen from French Indochina at their work, or shop in North African souks. “Supple dancing girls,” said an American observer severely, “perform the worst forms of bodily contortions known to the followers of Terpsichore.”3 Visitors came away with a comfortable assurance that their civilization was superior and that its benefits were being spread around the globe.

The Exposition seemed a suitable way to mark the end of a century which had started with revolutions and wars but which now stood for progress, peace and prosperity. Europe had not been entirely free of wars in the nineteenth century but they had been nothing to compare with the long struggles of the eighteenth century or the wars of the French Revolution and later those of Napoleon which had drawn in almost every European power. The wars of the nineteenth century had generally been short—like the one between Prussia and the Austrian Empire which had lasted for seven weeks—or colonial wars fought far from European soil. (The Europeans should have paid more attention to the American Civil War which not only lasted for four years but which gave an early warning that modern technology and the humble barbed wire and spades were shifting the advantage in war to the defense.) While the Crimean War in the middle of the century had involved four European powers, it was the exception. In the Austro-Prussian War, the Franco-Prussian, or the Russo-Turkish the other powers had wisely stayed out of the conflict and had done what they could to build peace again.

In certain circumstances war was still seen as a reasonable choice for nations if they could see no other way to obtain their goals. Prussia was not prepared to share control of the German states with Austria and Austria was determined not to concede. The war that followed settled the issue in Prussia’s favor. Resorting to war was costly but not excessively so. Wars were limited both in time and in their scope. Professional armies fought each other and damage to civilians and to property was minimal, certainly in light of what was to come. It was still possible to attack and win decisive victories. The Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71, though, like the American Civil War, hinted that armed conflict was changing: with conscription, armies were bigger, and better and more accurate weapons and increased firepower meant that the forces of the Prussians and their German allies suffered large casualties in the opening attacks on the French. And the surrender of the French army at Sedan did not end the fighting. Instead the French people, or large sections of it, chose to fight on in a people’s war. Yet even that had finally ended. France and the new Germany had made peace and their relations had gradually mended. In 1900 the Berlin business community sent a message for the opening of the Exposition to the Paris Chamber of Commerce, wishing success to “this great undertaking, which is destined to bring the civilized nations of the world nearer to one another in the labours common to them all.”4 The large numbers of German visitors who were expected to go to Paris would, so many in Germany hoped, help to build better relations between the peoples of their two countries.

All the peoples of the earth have worked on the Exposition, said the special Hachette guide: “they have accumulated their marvels and their treasures for us to reveal unknown arts, overlooked discoveries and to compete with us in a peaceful way where Progress will not slacken in her conquests.” The themes of progress and the future ran throughout the Exposition, from the new moving pavements to the cinema in the round. At one of the pavilions, the Château d’Eau, with its cascading waterfalls, shooting fountains, and colored lights playing on the waters, the centerpiece in a giant basin was an allegorical group which represented Humanity led by Progress advancing towards the Future and overthrowing the rather odd couple of Routine and Hatred.

The Exposition was a showcase for individual countries but it was also a monument to the most recent extraordinary achievements of Western civilization, in industry, commerce, science, technology, and the arts. You could see the new X-ray machines or be overwhelmed, as Henry James was, by the Hall of Dynamos, but the most exciting discovery of all was electricity. The Italian Futurist artist Giacomo Balla later called his daughters Luce and Elettricità in memory of what he saw at the Paris Exposition. (A third daughter was Elica—Propellor—after the modern machinery he also admired.) Camille Saint-Saëns wrote a special cantata in praise of electricity for the Exposition: Le Feu céleste with orchestra, soloists and choir was performed at a free concert. The Palace of Electricity was ablaze with 5,000 light bulbs and high on the summit of its roof stood the Fairy of Electricity in her chariot drawn by a horse and dragon. And there were dozens more palaces and pavilions devoted to the important activities of modern society, among them machinery, mining and metallurgy, chemical industries, public transportation, hygiene, and agriculture.

There was still more, much more. The second modern Olympic Games took place nearby in the Bois de Boulogne as part of the Exposition. Sports included fencing (where the French did very well), tennis (a British triumph), athletics (American dominated), cycling and croquet. At the Exposition Annexe in Vincennes you could examine the new motorcars and watch balloon races. Raoul Grimoin-Sanson, one of the earliest film directors, went up in his own balloon to film the Exposition from above. As the Hachette guide said, the Exposition was “the magnificent result, the extraordinary culmination of the whole century—the most fertile in discoveries, the most prodigious in sciences, which has revolutionized the economic order of the Universe.”

In light of what was to come in the twentieth century such boasting and such complacency seem pitiful to us, but in 1900 Europeans had good reason to feel pleased with the recent past and confident about the future. The thirty years since 1870 had brought an explosion in production and wealth and a transformation in society and the way people lived. Thanks to better and cheaper food, improvements in hygiene, and dramatic advances in medicine, Europeans were living longer and healthier lives. Although Europe’s population went up by perhaps as much as 100 million to a total of 400 million, it was able to absorb the growth thanks to increased output in its own industry and agriculture and imports from around the world. (And emigration acted as a safety valve to avoid an even more dramatic increase—some 25 million Europeans left in the last two decades of the century for new opportunities in the United States alone and millions more went to Australia or Canada or Argentina.)

Europe’s cities and towns grew as people moved from the countryside in increasing numbers in search of better opportunities in factories, shops and offices. On the eve of the French Revolution in 1789, Paris had some 600,000 inhabitants; by the time of the Exposition, 4 million. Budapest, the capital of Hungary, showed the most dramatic increase: in 1867 it had 280,000 inhabitants and by the time of the Great War, 933,000. As the numbers of Europeans making a living from agriculture went down, the industrial working classes and the middle classes grew. Workers organized themselves into unions, which were legal in most countries by the end of the century; in France the number of workers in unions went up fivefold in the fifteen years before 1900 and was to reach 1 million just before the Great War. In recognition of the increasing importance of the class, the Exposition had exhibits of model houses for workers and organizations for their moral and intellectual development.

Revue de presse

“One of the strengths of The War That Ended Peace is MacMillan’s ability to evoke the world at the beginning of the twentieth century. . . . MacMillan’s portraits of the men who took Europe to war are superb. . . . The logic of MacMillan’s argument is such that even now, as she leads us day by day, hour by hour through the aftermath of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, we expect some statesman or other to jump on the lighted fuse. . . . ‘There are always choices,’ MacMillan keeps reminding us.”The New York Times Book Review (Editor’s Choice)
“Magnificent . . . The War That Ended Peace will certainly rank among the best books of the centennial crop. . . . [MacMillan] deftly navigates the roiling currents and counter-currents of the pre-war decades. . . . The Great War had a kaleidoscope of causes. Ms. MacMillan tackles them all, with [a] blend of detail and sweeping observation.”The Economist
“The debate over the war’s origins has raged for years. Ms. MacMillan’s explanation goes straight to the heart of political fallibility. Almost every assumption made by the leaders of Europe turned out to be wrong. Elegantly written, with wonderful character sketches of the key players, this is a book to be treasured.”The Wall Street Journal

“Masterly . . . marvelous . . . Historians have long argued about why the war started and whether it could have been avoided. . . . Margaret MacMillan’s new book The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914 will be a welcome addition to these debates. . . . She takes a long look and examines the many forces that had been moving Europe in the direction of a war for a quarter century. . . . MacMillan is a master of narrative detail and the telling anecdote and this makes for a lively read. She does not break new ground in this book as much as present an exceptionally complex story in a way that will appeal to the general reader. Those looking to understand why World War I happened will have a hard time finding a better place to start.”The Christian Science Monitor
“Highly readable.”The Nation
“Margaret MacMillan’s The War That Ended Peace [stands] out because [it reflects] the immensely complex web of politics, power, and relationships that made war possible, if not inevitable.”The Daily Beast

“A magisterial 600-page panorama . . . a lively and sophisticated overview of the international crises that shook prewar Europe . . . MacMillan is a wry and humane chronicler of this troubled world. . . . The historian’s task, she suggests, is not to judge but to understand. . . . As MacMillan observes in a closing sentence that is well worth taking to heart, ‘there are always choices.’”—Christopher Clark, London Review of Books

“[A] richly textured narrative about World War I . . . addressing the war’s build-up . . . MacMillan tells this familiar story with panache. A major contribution, however, is her presentation of its subtext, as Europe’s claims to be the world’s most advanced civilization ‘were being challenged from without and undermined from within.’ . . . MacMillan eloquently shows that ‘turning out the lights’ was not inevitable, but a consequence of years of decisions and reactions: a slow-motion train wreck few wanted but none could avoid.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A first-rate study, necessary for all World War I collections. Highly recommended.”Library Journal (starred review)

“Everything can be lent a veneer of inevitability, but history rarely works in such a linear manner. But MacMillan, famous for her scholarship on the peace concluding WWI, avoids this trap. She shows, again and again, that events could have run in any number of different directions.”Booklist

“Thorough . . . lively . . . Exhaustive in its coverage of diplomatic maneuvering and the internal political considerations of the various nations, the book includes comprehensive discussions of such motivating issues as Germany’s fears of being surrounded, Austria-Hungary’s fears of falling apart and Russia’s humiliation after losing a war with Japan.”Kirkus Reviews

The War That Ended Peace tells the story of how intelligent, well-meaning leaders guided their nations into catastrophe. These epic events, brilliantly described by one of our era’s most talented historians, warn of the dangers that arise when we fail to anticipate the consequences of our actions. This is one of the finest books I have ever read on the causes of World War I.”—Madeleine Albright, former secretary of state
“With sure deftness, Margaret MacMillan manages to combine excellent history with elements of the cliff-hanger. You keep hoping that, at the last moment, one of those idiot leaders of 1914 might see the light and blink before it’s too late. No one is better equipped to recount this story than Margaret MacMillan.”—Sir Alistair Horne, author of The Price of Glory
“In this epic tale of human folly, Margaret MacMillan brilliantly explores the minds of the flawed, fascinating men whose misguided decisions led to a conflagration that few wanted or believed would actually happen. The War That Ended Peace is a must-read book for our time.”—Lynne Olson, author of Those Angry Days
“Once again, Margaret MacMillan proves herself not just a masterly historian but a brilliant storyteller. She brings to life the personalities whose decisions, rivalries, ambitions, and fantasies led Europe to ‘lay waste to itself’ and triggered decades of global conflict. Hers is a cautionary tale of follies a century in the past that seem all too familiar today.”—Strobe Talbott, president, Brookings Institution

The War That Ended Peace is a masterly explanation of the complex forces that brought the Edwardian world crashing down. Utterly riveting, deeply moving, and impeccably researched, Margaret MacMillan’s latest opus will become the definitive account of old Europe’s final years.”—Amanda Foreman, author of A World on Fire

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  • Format : Format Kindle
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  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 704 pages
  • Editeur : Profile Books; Édition : Main (17 octobre 2013)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
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Wonderful book. We know more about the "during" than the "before" the Great War. Thus book fills the blank masterfully.
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cet ouvrage analyse magistralement la période qui a précédé la guerre 14-18 et l'aveuglement de tous ces pays entrainés vers ce suicide collectif de l'Europe.Le récit est vivant met bien en perspective les acteurs en en dressant des portraits vifs et passionnants.
Il est étonnant de voir la faiblesse et l'irresponsabilité de décideurs responsables de la mort de 10 millions de personnes.
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I enjoyed this book very much and I read it very quickly although it is rather big. Very well informed, with interesting insights
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This is well written and documented. A clear and precise analysis of the reasons leading to WW1. Enjoyable to read.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) (Peut contenir des commentaires issus du programme Early Reviewer Rewards) 4.2 étoiles sur 5 474 commentaires
262 internautes sur 277 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 "Cry 'Havoc' and let slip the dogs of war..." 17 octobre 2013
Par FictionFan - Publié sur
Format: Format Kindle
As a Brit, studying the First World War at school in the seventies, memories of the Second World War were still fresh and bitter enough amongst parents and teachers that there was never really a question that the Germans were the 'bad guys' in both wars while we (the Brits, primarily, though a little bit of credit was occasionally given to the Allies) were the knights in shining armour. Enough time has passed since both wars now for a more rational view to be taken and this book by Margaret MacMillan is a well balanced, thoughtful and detailed account of the decades leading up to 1914.

MacMillan begins by giving an overview of the involved nations as they were at the turn of the century - their political structure, alliances and enmities, their culture and economic status. She then takes us in considerable depth through the twenty years or so preceding the war, concentrating on each nation in turn, and going further back into history when required. She introduces us to the main players: political, military and leading thinkers. She explains how and why the two main alliances developed that divided Europe and shows the fears of each nation feeling threatened or surrounded by potential enemies. And she shows how this led to an arms race, which each nation initially thought would act as a deterrence to war. Throughout she draws parallels to more recent history and current events, sometimes with frightening clarity.

In the mid-section, MacMillan discusses public opinion and cultural shifts, highlighting the parallel and divisive growth of militarism and pacifism and how the heads of government had to try to reconcile these factions. She indicates that, although the peace movement was international, that at times of threat, the membership tended to split on national lines - an indication that the movement would falter in the event of war, as indeed it did.

Next MacMillan explains the development of military planning and how these plans gradually became fixed, allowing little room for movement when war began. She explains that the Schlieffen Plan assumed war on two fronts and that, when it came to it, the military insisted that it wasn't possible to change the plan at the last moment to limit the war to the Eastern front, with all the implications that had for ensuring that France and therefore Britain would become involved. MacMillan also shows how the plans of each nation assumed an offensive, rather than defensive, strategy, taking little account of how modern weaponry would change the nature of warfare. Thus, when the war did come, the leaders still expected it to be short and decisive rather than the long drawn out trench warfare it became.

In the final section, MacMillan walks us through the various crises in the Balkans and elsewhere in the years leading up to the war. She makes the point that not only did these crises tend to firm up the two alliances but also the fact that each was finally resolved without a full-scale war led to a level of complacency that ultimately no country would take the final plunge. And in the penultimate chapter, she takes us on a detailed journey from the assassination of Franz Ferdinand up to the outbreak of war, showing how each government gradually concluded it was left with no alternatives but to fight. In a short final chapter, she rather movingly summarises the massive losses endured by each nation over the next four years, and gives a brief picture of the changed Europe that emerged.

Overall, I found this a very readable account. MacMillan has a clear and accessible writing style, and juggles the huge cast of characters well. I found I was rarely flicking backwards and forwards to remind myself of previous chapters - for me, always the sign of a well-written factual book. As with any history, there were parts that I found more or less interesting. I found the character studies of the various leaders very enlightening, while I was less interested in the various military plans (though accepting completely MacMillan's argument of their importance to the eventual inevitability of war). I got bogged down in the Balkans (always a problem for me in European history) but in the end MacMillan achieved the well-nigh impossible task of enabling me to grasp who was on whose side and why. This is a thorough, detailed and by no means short account of the period, but at no point did I feel that it dragged or lost focus.

One of the problems with the way I was taught about WW1 was that we tended to talk about the nations rather than the people - 'Germany did this', 'France said that', 'America's position was'. MacMillan's approach gives much more insight, allowing us to get to know the political and military leaders as people and showing the lack of unanimity in most of the governments. This humanised the history for me and gradually changed my opinion from believing that WW1 was a war that should never have been fought to feeling that, factoring in the always-uncertain vagaries of human nature, it could never have been avoided. This isn't MacMillan's position - she states clearly her belief that there are always choices and that the leaders could have chosen differently, and of course that's true. However, it seemed that by 1914 most of them felt so threatened and boxed in that it would have taken extraordinary courage and perception for them to act differently than they did, and inaction may have meant their country's downfall anyway. A sobering account of how prestige, honour and national interest led to a devastating war that no-one wanted but that no-one could prevent. Highly recommended.

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Random House.
26 internautes sur 27 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Extraordinary piece of research, but ………….reader beware. 28 décembre 2013
Par Antonio Vives - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
What follows is not meant as a criticism of the book, which is an extraordinary piece of research, monumental in scope and deep in knowledge, making very clear why peace ended. The immersion of the author into the events and the level of details are astonishing. This review is meant to warn the reader of the efforts necessary to take full advantage of the book.

The major contribution of the work is the detailed and pertinent description of the main characters their weakness, follies, their basic humanity that helps to understand how we got there, which gives you a feel for why they made (failed to make) the decisions that ended peace. Terrifying thing is that things are not much different with our leaders. The details of the buildup, the plans, and the rivalries are masterfully described. So little is said about the internal situation of Serbia and on their leaders in the months before the war broke, like if it did not play a role in the conflict.

The major problem of the book is it excessive repetition that wears the reader down. How many times we need to be reminded that Russia had an alliance with France or that there was an arms race between the navies of Germany and Britain, or that Britain did not want to commit to anything, or that Russia was not ready for the war. It makes it look as if chapters were written by different hands that have not read each other. Granted, to edit these repetitions into a more coherent whole would be an almost impossible task in a volume of this magnitude, but it makes you wonder if the publication was rushed and there was no time for editing.

The books makes an extensive use of quotes from correspondence and conversations at the time, which gives you confidence that the analysis is done as if the outcome was not known, i.e. without the benefit of hindsight. Nevertheless, there is the real risk of choosing the quotes to benefit one's own story. Some of them seem very selective indeed.

It looks as if one has collected tons of notes and then goes on to fit them in the narrative.

Some chapter are developed based on themes, some are more chronological, which makes following the events a bit complicated. The book goes back and forth in time throughout the 10-20 years preceding the outbreak, sometimes even within the chronological chapters. It is hard to keep track where we are and the relationship between the many events.

Obviously for a story covering several decades and many countries a very large number of characters are involved. Some characters are described in detail even when their roles are very minor, others are just named but had a key role (anything about Alexander Hoyos? why are Beatrice and Sidney Webb mentioned at the beginning of Chapter 19?) The book would have benefit from having a list of names and roles (Wikipedia and Google become indispensable companions)

The book should be read in as shorter time as possible. If you stop for a few days, you may lose track of the events that were unfolding and who the characters are. There is so much going on, sometimes too much detail in side events which in the overall view of the outcomes are rather irrelevant.

But all in all, it is and extraordinary description of the events leading to the loss of peace.

Now, to read what happened during the war, go read The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman.
8 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Excellent for the initiated,unsuitable for the general public 9 novembre 2013
Par D.V. KOKKINOS - Publié sur
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
We will never know exactly all the whys and hows of the FirstWW.All actors are long gone and we are trying to deduce conclusions from shadows and footprints and a scholarship that has produced thousands of volumes on the subject.There are now possibly fifty books that if all are read we can have an accurate enough understanding of what happened.This is one of those books,mainly addressed to the initiated British Public that has already read the basics
The work has two main assets.First the long time span examined up to August 1914 and second the broadness of scope in the examination of the many facets that composed the perception of National Interest for every Nation and their interplay with the corresponding ones of the other Nations.
Prof Mac Millan's work is clear,well researched,analytical and intelligently critical,particularly of other Nations not Britain,methodical and easy to follow in its rationale.Most of the arguments advanced are solidly based on facts and logic.
Certain passages could have been eliminated to the benefit of the coherence and readability of the book.It is tiring to read the relations of the deputy minister of the Foreign Office of Germany with the second cousin of the Secretary of the War Office of Russia.
The author cautions to the dangers of the assumption that the War was bound to happen,although reading the book one wonders how it could have been avoided in view of the strength of the usual suspects presented and analysed,Militarism,Nationalism,Social Darwinism etc.
The author points out significantly that the War happened as a result of decisions taken by relatively few key Players,as a result of various pressures well identified and described in the book and that this happened over a considerable period of time.
The final result was the failure of those Statesmen to rationally manage the ultimate crisis.
Although not condemned expressis verbis ,Germany and A-H come out as the principals responsible for the War for the well known reasons.
Kaiser Bill was already sketched as a caricature by many Historians but Mac Millan's one is in full color.
The author presents both the forces of Societies defending Peace and those pushing towards War.Her understanding of military matters is weak.
She makes a valid point that the Civilian Leaderships were not ensnared by the military train timetables,but rather by their own decisions not to insist on better understanding with their Military and demand military planning flexibility and options.
On the surprise that the author is showing that military plans were aggressive,this is the military Dogma throughout the ages.
On the Schlieffen plan,instead of this or any other author,the reader is referred to T. Zuber's "The Real German War Plan 1904-14" which is the only work that puts this much misunderstood plan in its real dimensions.
The statement by Prof Mac Millan that on the eve of the Great War the French Army was poorly led and overly bureaucratic is unfair . This Army was certainly better and more efficiently led than the BEF,the victorious Marne battle is the final proof.The flexibility with which more than half of its right wing was rapidly transferred to the centre and left shows that it was both strategically perceptive and administratively capable.
The moral failure of the German and BEF leaderships contrasts starkly with the rock solid and unflappable French one.
While the author devotes irrelevant pages to the History of the Ottoman Empire (a St Antony trait),she gives only a few paragraphs to describe the schemings of Sir Edward Gray and the machinations of Gen. Henry Wilson to fight alongside France without Cabinet approval and Parliamentary knowledge.There is a curious reluctance of British Historians who are the only ones that can do a Fritz Fischer on British Policy of those times but avoid it.Prof Clark was the only one who provided some information so far.
Finally having read extensively on WW1 I have ceased to be surprised that the primary responsibility of Serbia is passed over once again.I did not find any originality in the conclusions but the work is solid and in line with current scholarship, although I would prefer to see the author take a clear position as to the responsibility of the States for the War.Fritz Fisher did the dirty job indicting his own Country but Prof Mac Millan after exposing Germany and Austria avoids the final step,and she is not alone.AJP Taylor was more cantankerous but he had the strength of his convictions.
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3.0 étoiles sur 5 MacMillan tells us how WWI happened, but is short on telling us why 30 décembre 2014
Par Stanley T. Myles - Publié sur
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
I loved MacMillan's "Paris 1919" but I'm not so thrilled with "The War That Ended Peace." As in the earlier work, MacMillan provides voluminous detail on the events leading to war in 1914, but much of the material covers familiar ground, and in my opinion not as well as "The Sleepwalkers," the other recent review of the road to WWI. For me, what is missing is analysis that would tell us, after amassing so much information, what MacMillan believes caused the war. She does say that there were several causes, and perhaps that conclusion is the most accurate in the end, but I would have liked for her to have sorted out more clearly which factors were most important. Was it imperialism, in which what was seen at the time as Britian's great success in building its empire required the same for any "real" world power. Was it militarism and the willingness of all the powers to accept war. Was it the lack of international mechanisms that could have provided security without being tied to the interests of another state (in this case Germany tied to the interests of Austria-Hungary and France to Russia.) Maybe it was simply the fact that no overwhelming deterrent like the atomic bomb existed to make all the powers conclude that a general war wasn't worth the risk. MacMillian doesn't say, and I would have liked to have had the benefit of her informed insight.
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Slow Motion Train Wreck 4 avril 2017
Par Andrew Desmond - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
With the end of the Napoleonic Wars, Europe settled into a century of comparative peace. Yes, there were a number of smaller wars but, by and large, peace prevailed. However, in 1914, Europe walked over a cliff into a cataclysmic war unlike one ever seen before. “The War That Ended Peace” is a scholarly attempt to analyse how this happened. The author, Margaret MacMillan, achieves this end with great distinction.

MacMillan begins in turn of the century Europe where there are the early signs that the continent is sleep walking into war. Germany is building its navy, the Ottoman Empire is crumbling and the great powers of England, Germany, Austria-Hungary, France and Russia are slowly forming new alliances. These alliances entail responsibilities that are eventually triggered in 1914 as nations lurch towards war.

“The War That Ended Peace” is a significant tome of more that 700 pages. However, it is well written and easy to read. It flows well and should not intimidate the general reader. Margaret MacMillan has meticulously complied a mass of information from a variety of sources and brought it together into an excellent piece of history.

As it tuned out, the First World War was a catastrophe. In August 1914, most people on both sides thought that hostilities would be over by Christmas. This was a misjudgement on a grand scale. By the time the war ended in November 1918, sixty five million men had fought and 8.5 million had died. Ironically, even more were to die in the subsequent Spanish flu epidemic. Tragedy was piled upon catastrophe. However, the war should not have been inevitable. MacMillan concludes her book with two reasons as to why events unfolded as they did:

“First, a failure of imagination in not seeing how destructive such a conflict would be and second, their lack of courage to stand up to those who said there was no choice left but to got to war. There are always choices.”

These choices were not considered. Catastrophe was the result. Bravo Margaret MacMillan for such a terrific work of history.
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