Cataclysm 1914 brings together a number of prominent leftist scholars from a variety of fields to explore the many aspects of the origins, trajectories and consequences of the First World War and its impact in the making of modern world politics.
Abandoning American Neutrality
During the first 18 months of World War I, Woodrow Wilson sought to maintain American neutrality, but as this carefully argued study shows, it was ultimately an unsustainable stance. The tension between Wilson's idealism and pragmatism ultimately drove him to abandon neutrality, paving the way for America's entrance into the war in 1917.
David Stevenson's widely acclaimed history of World War I changes forever our understanding of that pivotal conflict. Countering the commonplace assumption that politicians lost control of events, and that the war, once it began, quickly became an unstoppable machine, Stevenson contends that politicians deliberately took risks that led to war in July 1914. Far from being overwhelmed by the unprecedented scale and brutality of the bloodshed, political leaders on both sides remained very much in control of events throughout. According to Stevenson, the disturbing reality is that the course of the war was the result of conscious choices—including the continued acceptance of astronomical casualties. In fluid prose, Stevenson has written a definitive history of the man-made catastrophe that left lasting scars on the twentieth century. Cataclysm is a truly international history, incorporating new research on previously undisclosed records from governments in Europe and across the world. From the complex network of secret treaties and alliances that eventually drew all of Europe into the war, through the bloodbaths of Gallipoli and the Somme, to the arrival of American forces, and the massive political, economic, and cultural shifts the conflict left in its wake, Cataclysm is a major revision of World War I history.
A Hobbit a Wardrobe and a Great War
The untold story of how the First World War shaped the lives, faith, and writings of J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis The First World War laid waste to a continent and permanently altered the political and religious landscape of the West. For a generation of men and women, it brought the end of innocence—and the end of faith. Yet for J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, the Great War deepened their spiritual quest. Both men served as soldiers on the Western Front, survived the trenches, and used the experience of that conflict to ignite their Christian imagination. Had there been no Great War, there would have been noHobbit, no Lord of the Rings, no Narnia, and perhaps no conversion to Christianity by C. S. Lewis. Unlike a generation of young writers who lost faith in the God of the Bible, Tolkien and Lewis produced epic stories infused with the themes of guilt and grace, sorrow and consolation. Giving an unabashedly Christian vision of hope in a world tortured by doubt and disillusionment, the two writers created works that changed the course of literature and shaped the faith of millions. This is the first book to explore their work in light of the spiritual crisis sparked by the conflict.
An Improbable War
The First World War has been described as the "primordial catastrophe of the twentieth century." Arguably, Italian Fascism, German National Socialism and Soviet Leninism and Stalinism would not have emerged without the cultural and political shock of World War I. The question why this catastrophe happened therefore preoccupies historians to this day. The focus of this volume is not on the consequences, but rather on the connection between the Great War and the long 19th century, the short- and long-term causes of World War I. This approach results in the questioning of many received ideas about the war's causes, especially the notion of "inevitability."
The outbreak of the First World War was ‘a drama never surpassed’. One hundred years later, the characters still seem larger than life: Archduke Franz Ferdinand, brooding heir to the Habsburg throne; the fanatical Bosnian Serb assassins who plot to murder him; Conrad and Berchtold, the Austrians who exploit the outrage; Kaiser Wilhelm and Bethmann Hollweg, backing up the Austrians; Sazonov, Russian Foreign Minister, trying to live down a reputation for cowardice; Poincaré and Paléologue, two French statesmen who urge on the Russians; and not least Winston Churchill, who, alone among Cabinet officials in London, perceives the seriousness of the situation in time to take action. July 1914 tells the story of Europe’s countdown to war through the eyes of these men, between the bloody opening act on 28 June 1914 and Britain’s final plunge on 4 August, which turned a European conflict into a world war. The outbreak of war was no accident of fate. Individual statesmen, pursuing real objectives, conjured up the conflict – in some cases by conscious intention. While some sought honourably to defuse tensions, others all but oozed with malice as they rigged the decks for war. Dramatic, inevitably tense and almost forensically observed, Sean McMeekin’s unique book retells the story of that cataclysmic month, making clear as never before who was responsible for the catastrophe. You will never think the same way again about the origins of the First World War.
The Month that Changed the World
On 28 June 1914 the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in the Balkans. Five fateful weeks later the Great Powers of Europe were at war. Much time and ink has been spent ever since trying to identify the 'guilty' person or state responsible, or alternatively attempting to explain the underlying forces that 'inevitably' led to war in 1914. Unsatisfied with these explanations, Gordon Martel now goes back to the contemporary diplomatic, military, and political records to investigate the twists and turns of the crisis afresh, with the aim of establishing just how the catastrophe really unfurled. What emerges is the story of a terrible, unnecessary tragedy - one that can be understood only by retracing the steps taken by those who went down the road to war. With each passing day, we see how the personalities of leading figures such as Kaiser Wilhelm II, the Emperor Franz Joseph, Tsar Nicholas II, Sir Edward Grey, and Raymond Poincaré were central to the unfolding crisis, how their hopes and fears intersected as events unfolded, and how each new decision produced a response that complicated or escalated matters to the point where they became almost impossible to contain. Devoting a chapter to each day of the infamous 'July Crisis', this gripping step by step account of the descent to war makes clear just how little the conflict was in fact premeditated, preordained, or even predictable. Almost every day it seemed possible that the crisis could be settled as so many had been over the previous decade; almost every day there was a new suggestion that gave statesmen hope that war could be avoided without abandoning vital interests. And yet, as the last month of peace ebbed away, the actions and reactions of the Great Powers disastrously escalated the situation. So much so that, by the beginning of August, what might have remained a minor Balkan problem had turned into the cataclysm of the First World War.
Thunder at Twilight
Thunder at Twilight is a landmark historical vision, drawing on hitherto untapped sources to illuminate two crucial years in the life of the extraordinary city of Vienna-and in the life of the twentieth century. It was during the carnival of 1913 that a young Stalin arrived in Vienna on a mission that would launch him into the upper echelon of Russian revolutionaries, and it was here that he first collided with Trotsky. It was in Vienna that the failed artist Adolf Hitler kept daubing watercolors and spouting tirades at fellow drifters in a flophouse. Here Archduke Franz Ferdinand had a troubled audience with Emperor Franz Joseph-and soon the bullet that killed the Archduke would set off the Great War that would kill ten million more. With luminous prose that has twice made him a finalist for the National Book Award, Frederic Morton evokes the opulent, elegant, incomparable sunset metropolis-Vienna on the brink of cataclysm.
Five Frenchmen go off to war, two of them leaving behind a certain young woman who longs for their return. But the main character in 1914 is the Great War itself. Jean Echenoz, the multi–award–winning French literary magician whose work has been compared to Joseph Conrad and Lawrence Sterne, has brought that deathtrap back to life, leading us gently from a balmy summer day deep into the insatiable—and still unthinkable—carnage of trench warfare. With the delicacy of a miniaturist and with irony both witty and clear–eyed, the author offers us an intimate epic with the atmosphere of a classic movie: in the panorama of a clear blue sky, a biplane spirals suddenly into the ground; a tardy piece of shrapnel shears the top off a man’s head as if it were a soft–boiled egg; we dawdle dreamily in a spring–scented clearing with a lonely shell–shocked soldier strolling innocently to a firing squad ready to shoot him for desertion. But ultimately, the grace notes of humanity in 1914 rise above the terrors of war in this beautifully crafted tale that Echenoz tells with discretion, precision, and love.
A World Undone
Drawing on exhaustive research, this remarkable, intimate account tells the story of how World War I reduced Europe’s mightiest empires to rubble, killed twenty million people, and cracked the foundations of the world we live in today. On a summer day in 1914, a nineteen-year-old Serbian nationalist gunned down Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. While the world slumbered, monumental forces were shaken. In less than a month, a combination of ambition, deceit, fear, jealousy, missed opportunities, and miscalculation sent Austro-Hungarian troops marching into Serbia, German troops streaming toward Paris, and a vast Russian army into war, with England as its ally. As crowds cheered their armies on, no one could guess what lay ahead in the First World War: four long years of slaughter, physical and moral exhaustion, and the near collapse of a civilization that until 1914 had dominated the globe. Praise for A World Undone “Thundering, magnificent . . . [A World Undone] is a book of true greatness that prompts moments of sheer joy and pleasure. . . . It will earn generations of admirers.”—The Washington Times “Meyer’s sketches of the British Cabinet, the Russian Empire, the aging Austro-Hungarian Empire . . . are lifelike and plausible. His account of the tragic folly of Gallipoli is masterful. . . . [A World Undone] has an instructive value that can scarcely be measured”—Los Angeles Times “An original and very readable account of one of the most significant and often misunderstood events of the last century.”—Steve Gillon, resident historian, The History Channel