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Misfire: The Sarajevo Assassination and the Winding Road to World War I

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A new interpretation of the Sarajevo assassination and the origins of World War I that places focus on the Balkans and the prewar period. The story has so often been told: Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Habsburg Empire, was shot dead on June 28, 1914, in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. Thirty days later, the Archduke's uncle, Emperor Franz Joseph, decl A new interpretation of the Sarajevo assassination and the origins of World War I that places focus on the Balkans and the prewar period. The story has so often been told: Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Habsburg Empire, was shot dead on June 28, 1914, in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. Thirty days later, the Archduke's uncle, Emperor Franz Joseph, declared war on the Kingdom of Serbia, producing the chain reaction of European powers entering the First World War. In Misfire, Paul Miller-Melamed narrates the history of the Sarajevo assassination and the origins of World War I from the perspective of the Balkans. Rather than focusing on the bang of assassin Gavrilo Princip's gun or reinforcing the mythology that has arisen around this act, Miller-Melamed embeds the incident in the longer-term conditions of the Balkans that gave rise to the political murder. He thus illuminates the centrality of the Bosnian Crisis and the Balkan Wars of the early twentieth century to European power politics, while explaining how Serbs, Bosnians, and Habsburg leaders negotiated their positions in an increasingly dangerous geopolitical environment. Despite the absence of evidence tying official Serbia to the assassination conspiracy, Miller-Melamed shows how it spiraled into a diplomatic crisis that European statesmen proved unable to resolve peacefully. Contrasting the vast disproportionality between a single deadly act and an act of war that would leave ten million dead, Misfire contends that the real causes for the world war lie in "civilized" Europe rather than the endlessly discussed political murder.


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A new interpretation of the Sarajevo assassination and the origins of World War I that places focus on the Balkans and the prewar period. The story has so often been told: Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Habsburg Empire, was shot dead on June 28, 1914, in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. Thirty days later, the Archduke's uncle, Emperor Franz Joseph, decl A new interpretation of the Sarajevo assassination and the origins of World War I that places focus on the Balkans and the prewar period. The story has so often been told: Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Habsburg Empire, was shot dead on June 28, 1914, in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. Thirty days later, the Archduke's uncle, Emperor Franz Joseph, declared war on the Kingdom of Serbia, producing the chain reaction of European powers entering the First World War. In Misfire, Paul Miller-Melamed narrates the history of the Sarajevo assassination and the origins of World War I from the perspective of the Balkans. Rather than focusing on the bang of assassin Gavrilo Princip's gun or reinforcing the mythology that has arisen around this act, Miller-Melamed embeds the incident in the longer-term conditions of the Balkans that gave rise to the political murder. He thus illuminates the centrality of the Bosnian Crisis and the Balkan Wars of the early twentieth century to European power politics, while explaining how Serbs, Bosnians, and Habsburg leaders negotiated their positions in an increasingly dangerous geopolitical environment. Despite the absence of evidence tying official Serbia to the assassination conspiracy, Miller-Melamed shows how it spiraled into a diplomatic crisis that European statesmen proved unable to resolve peacefully. Contrasting the vast disproportionality between a single deadly act and an act of war that would leave ten million dead, Misfire contends that the real causes for the world war lie in "civilized" Europe rather than the endlessly discussed political murder.

32 review for Misfire: The Sarajevo Assassination and the Winding Road to World War I

  1. 4 out of 5

    David

    Paul Miller-Melamed offers a new examination of what is often described as the twenty-first century's most infamous assassination in Sarajevo. However, his account is firmly aligned with A. J. P. Taylor's assessment that the majority of what was written about the killing of Franz Ferdinand was rubbish created with the explicit purpose of either discovering or confirming some grand conspiracy. Misfire confirms the almost banality of the assassination, from its haphazard plotting to the slow-walkin Paul Miller-Melamed offers a new examination of what is often described as the twenty-first century's most infamous assassination in Sarajevo. However, his account is firmly aligned with A. J. P. Taylor's assessment that the majority of what was written about the killing of Franz Ferdinand was rubbish created with the explicit purpose of either discovering or confirming some grand conspiracy. Misfire confirms the almost banality of the assassination, from its haphazard plotting to the slow-walking toward crisis by European powers. He also offers a relatively detailed (if short) examination of the strange parallels that could be drawn between the lives of the Austrian archduke and his Serbian assassin. This is a must-read if you want a new, more current prequel to Tuchman's grand The Guns of August or are simply interested in dispensing with the all too numerous fictions and distortions of some accounts, from Princip's sandwich to the belief that there was some vast Austrian plot to see off their own apparent imperial successor.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Edgardo Perren

  3. 5 out of 5

    Alan J.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jerome

  5. 5 out of 5

    Dеnnis

  6. 4 out of 5

    Harrison Recht

  7. 5 out of 5

    James Harrison

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kyle

  9. 5 out of 5

    Emrys

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

  11. 4 out of 5

    Noah

  12. 5 out of 5

    Matija Pavlić

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kern

  14. 5 out of 5

    Madison Johnson

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lily

  16. 5 out of 5

    HotDog

  17. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa Gómez Rocha

  18. 5 out of 5

    Beck

  19. 5 out of 5

    Dom Young

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sanja

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Bianchi

  22. 5 out of 5

    Julie

  23. 4 out of 5

    John

  24. 5 out of 5

    Adelle

  25. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Overby

  26. 4 out of 5

    Allison Bernard

  27. 4 out of 5

    Diana

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bryanna B

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jason

  30. 4 out of 5

    Alexandra Miller

  31. 4 out of 5

    Santiago

  32. 4 out of 5

    David Daugherty

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