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World War One AKA The Great War AKA The War To End All Wars

June 3rd, 2014
Judith · Staff Recommendations

One hundred years ago on June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austrian-Hungarian throne and his wife Sophie were assassinated by a Serb nationalist while they were visiting the Austrian-Hungarian province of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Their assassination was the catalyst that set in motion a series of events that led to the outbreak of World War One in August of 1914.

However, World War One was also the result of a series of alliances and treaties between the Great Powers of Europe: Great Britain; France; Germany; Russia; Austria-Hungary and Italy. Franz Ferdinand’s assassination was really an excuse for the Great Powers to go to war. It was almost as if the Great Powers had decided to play the game “king of the hill” in a huge and deadly manner.

The Guns of August by Barbara TuchmanThe Guns of August was written in 1962, less than fifty years after the outbreak of World War One. The book began with the funeral of Britain’s Edward VII in 1910 when Britain was still the greatest power in the world but the British realized that Germany was a threat to their superiority and thus the British and the French were beginning to find common ground in their fear of Germany. Alliances were formed between unlikely countries such as Britain and France. Barbara also described the several crucial early battles of World War One.

Dreadnought by Robert K. MassieDreadnought describes the arms or battleship race between Britain and Germany in the early 1900’s. Britain would build the latest battleship and then Germany would build a bigger and better battleship and thus it would continue. DREADNOUGHT is a gripping chronicle of the personal and national rivalries that led to the 20th Century’s first great arms race.

The War That Ended Peace by Margaret MacMillanThe War That Ended Peace charts the long series of events that led to the outbreak of World War One and the feeling that World War One would end before the leaves fell but what resulted was the blunder on the part of many with plenty of blood stained hands.

The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 by Christopher ClarkThe Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 describes the series of complex events and relationships that led a group of usually well-meaning leaders into a brutal conflict.

Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War by Max HastingsCatastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War places most of the blame on the outbreak of World War One on Germany and Austria-Hungary. He argues against the contention that the war was not worth the cost, maintaining that Germany’s defeat was vital to the freedom of Europe.

Setting the Desert on Fire: T. E. Lawrence and Britain’s Secret War in Arabia, 1916-1918 by James BarrSetting the Desert on Fire: T. E. Lawrence and Britain’s Secret War in Arabia, 1916-1918 describes the other war that was not fought in the trenches of Europe but rather on the sands of Arabia as the British under the near-mythic figure of Lawrence helped the Arabs revolt against the Turks. The Turks were the allies of the Germans.

Lusitania by Diana PrestonThe sinking of the British liner the Lusitania in May of 1915 indirectly led to the United States declaring war on Germany in April of 1917. Americans were horrified by the sinking of a passenger liner even if the passenger line belonged to a country at war.

To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918 by Adam HochschildTo End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918 is a page-turning, epic history of the Modern Era’s most morally challenging war. Families were divided on World War One and we meet such people as a prominent woman pacifist whose brother was the British commander in chief on the Western Front.

The Last of the Doughboys: The Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World War by Richard RubinIt is hard to believe that the last doughboy (American soldiers in World War One) died in 2011. This book is a living and breathing monument to the almost criminally unsung generation of American heroes.

The Harlem Hellfighters by Walter Dean Myers and Bill MilesThe Harlem Hellfighters describes the gallant and young African-American soldiers who redefined courage in an age of bigotry.

These books are just the tip of the iceberg of the plethora of books on World War One; aka The Great War; aka The First World War and aka The War to End All Wars. 2014 promises to be a banner year on books on the 100th anniversary of that very sad and tragic war.

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