32 review for The Coming Of The War, 1914

  1. 4 out of 5

    Stefania Dzhanamova

    I’m Bulgarian, and I’m from that same Balkan Peninsula, where – according to Otto von Bismarck’s predictions – would have happened some “stupid thing” that would start the next war. Yet, from the two paragraphs dedicated to the WWI I had in my History textbook I didn’t learn anything but that some Serbian guys killed the Austrian heir. Bernadotte E. Schmitt’s book provided an in-depth account of the events that led to the war. The author had analyzed all available to him actual source documents f I’m Bulgarian, and I’m from that same Balkan Peninsula, where – according to Otto von Bismarck’s predictions – would have happened some “stupid thing” that would start the next war. Yet, from the two paragraphs dedicated to the WWI I had in my History textbook I didn’t learn anything but that some Serbian guys killed the Austrian heir. Bernadotte E. Schmitt’s book provided an in-depth account of the events that led to the war. The author had analyzed all available to him actual source documents from Germany, Russia, Britain, Serbia, and other countries involved, and recreated the weeks preceding the war through the correspondence of many participants, thus allowing the reader to trace and understand the process of decision making that led to the catastrophic event. Schmitt’s book is valuable because it not only analyzes the events of the WWI but also provides a detailed account of many important prewar meetings of diplomats, of the reasons why peace couldn’t be negotiated, and of all machinations between countries. In this work I found out more about my own country’s part in WWI than I can ever read in my textbooks. I especially enjoyed how the author aims to show the events through many different perspectives, thus explaining the reasons for distrust between particular countries and their policy of action towards each other. For example, Schmitt cites a letter of an Austrian diplomat, who expresses his doubts about Serbia’s trustworthiness by stating that the Serbians “like all Orientals” are two-faced and dishonest. Only this quote can tell so much about the reasons why Serbia and Austro-Hungary didn’t manage to resolve their conflict peacefully. “The Coming of The War” is a Pulitzer Prize winner and this is clearly visible in the masterful way the book is thought out and written.

  2. 5 out of 5

    rmn

    So no one on goodreads has read this book? really? Hmmmm. Seems a bit strange since this has won a Pulitzer Prize (though in 1931, which pre-dates the Harry Potter years), is a phenomenal read as to the causes of WWI (a bit more in-depth than, "hey, they shot that Austrian dude"), and well, it's just really well written and extremely detailed and informative. Sure the beginning is a bit dull and almost as hard to get through as a Higgs Boson explanation, but after the set-up (which needs to be d So no one on goodreads has read this book? really? Hmmmm. Seems a bit strange since this has won a Pulitzer Prize (though in 1931, which pre-dates the Harry Potter years), is a phenomenal read as to the causes of WWI (a bit more in-depth than, "hey, they shot that Austrian dude"), and well, it's just really well written and extremely detailed and informative. Sure the beginning is a bit dull and almost as hard to get through as a Higgs Boson explanation, but after the set-up (which needs to be done to lay out the delicate balance of power in Europe before the war) the pace picks up, the details are fascinating, and the events are clearly spelled out much better than the three paragraphs you might remember from your high school history text book. The gist of this book is to describe the events that led up to World War I (and more specifically, the months, weeks, days, and hours before the war started) by using actual source documents from Austrian, German, French, British, Serbian, Bosnian, and Russian (when they existed) diplomatic documents, newspapers, logbooks, cabinet meeting minutes, etc.. The author culled through whatever documents governments had made public/unclassified before 1931, whatever conversations were printed in journals/diaries/meeting minutes from the diplomats involved, and whatever the newspapers had printed (and remember, this was pre-internet where newspapers were strongly controlled by governments), and recreated the days before the war through the words and viewpoints of the actual decision makers and participants. What you're left with is more than just a detailed account of all of the events leading up to the war (including what diplomat met with whom, what the strategies were, why the governments acted as they did, why a peace couldn't have been negotiated, and who shot the archduke and why anyone even cared?), but a larger contextual story about the diplomatic intrigue and as close to a first person account from all sides that probably can be found. Given that not all the source documents had been declassified at the time the book was written (and that means you Russia), perhaps some of the details have changed or become more clear over the last 80 years, but if you ever want to know why WWI started, this book lays it out in a detailed, well thought out, and compelling way that tries to show all of the machinations between countries and what they were thinking as told through the words/documents of the individuals actually making the decisions/moving history. You could save yourself the trouble of reading the book and know the war started because all of Europe was simply acting like a bunch of asshats (though particularly Austria and Germany), but where would the fun be in that?

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tony Fidanza

  4. 4 out of 5

    Susan

  5. 5 out of 5

    Erin

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tammy

  7. 5 out of 5

    Joshlynn

  8. 5 out of 5

    Adam Smith

  9. 4 out of 5

    James

  10. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Flusche

  11. 4 out of 5

    David Mestelle

  12. 5 out of 5

    Yinzadi

  13. 5 out of 5

    Diana

  14. 4 out of 5

    Alana

  15. 5 out of 5

    Laura Grow-Nyberg

  16. 5 out of 5

    John Valo

  17. 5 out of 5

    Israt Jahan

  18. 5 out of 5

    Myles Harrold

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mihai

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rodney Ulyate

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jerome

  22. 5 out of 5

    Danielle Rosenquist

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sonia Basumatary

  24. 5 out of 5

    Koszta István

  25. 5 out of 5

    Josh Campbell

  26. 4 out of 5

    Marcus Fellman

  27. 4 out of 5

    Meredith

  28. 5 out of 5

    Palak

  29. 5 out of 5

    Matt

  30. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

  31. 4 out of 5

    Steven Tomkins

  32. 4 out of 5

    Lucia Kelly

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