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1913: The Eve of War [Kindle Edition]

Paul Ham
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (207 customer reviews)

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  • Length: 83 pages (estimated)
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Book Description

Christmas 1913.

In Britain, people are debating a new dance called ‘the tango’.

In Germany, they are fascinated by the wedding of the Kaiser’s daughter to the Duke of Brunswick.

Little did they know that their world was on ‘The Eve of War’, a catastrophe that was to engulf the continent, cost millions of lives, and change the course of the century.

And yet behind the scenes, the Great Powers were marching towards what they thought was an inevitable conflict.

In this controversial and concise essay, the military historian Paul Ham argues that the First World War was not an historical mistake, a conflict into which the Great Powers stumbled by accident. Nor was it a justified war, in which uncontained German aggression had to be defeated. Instead the politicians and generals of the day willed the war, and prepared for it – but eventually found themselves caught up in an inferno they could no longer control.

‘The Eve of War’ is a brilliant re-examination of the causes of the First World War that is both an introduction to one of the most complex subjects in history and an original and thought-provoking contribution to the debate over the origins of the conflict.

Paul Ham’s military histories have been widely praised.

"[A] vivid, comprehensive and quietly furious account...Paul Ham brings new tools to the job, unearthing fresh evidence of a deeply disturbing sort. He has a magpie eye for the telling detail" - Ben Macintyre The Times.

"Provocative and challenging..A voice that is both vigorous and passionate" - Christopher Sylvester, Daily Express.

"Controversial...Well documented and stringently argued" - Peter Lewis, Daily Mail.

Paul Ham is the author of the forthcoming 1914: The Year the World Ended, to be published by Random House in Britain in 2014. He has previously written the acclaimed Sandakan, Kokoda, Vietnam: The
Australian War and Hiroshima Nagasaki. A former Australia Correspondent of the Sunday Times, he was born in Sydney and educated in Australia and Britain. He now lives in Sydney and Paris.

Endeavour Press is the UK's leading independent publisher of digital books.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1101 KB
  • Print Length: 83 pages
  • Publisher: Endeavour Press Ltd. (November 5, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,301 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "What we need is a good war." November 14, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Was a European war inevitable in 1914? That's the question that author/historian Paul Ham attempts to answer in "1913: The Eve of War." Regarding the build-up to the war, Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August is clearly the classic work on the subject. Ms. Tuchman thoroughly covered all the political and military aspects of the long build-up to war. So does Paul Ham, but his book approaches the subject a bit differently. Guns of August focused on the high-level political and military developments in the decades prior to the war. Ham covers this too, but he also describes the cultural and social developments that resulted in millions of young European men willingly volunteering to fight in the trenches for their country.

Ham concludes that the European nations did not just stumble into war; instead, by the end of 1913, the political and military leaders of the European nations saw war as a necessity. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28, 1914 was only the spark that set off the inevitable war.

It's a well written book, a concise look at the state of the European nations in the early 20th century, and the many factors that led to the Great War. I'm not a historian, so I can't say with any certainly how accurate the author's conclusions are, but he's done a fine job of describing the various events and circumstances that resulted in a war that produced 37 million casualties.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Poetic language and very well written December 17, 2013
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In addition to being informative, this book was a pleasure to read because it is well written. I didn't give it 5 stars because the afterward was disappointing. The book's entire point is to discuss the build up to World War 1 and then fails to discuss how it actually started, which wasn't until later in 1914. There are many months of history there that could have been discussed in the afterward, but are just left out. Overall though, very good read, would definitely recommend it.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Background I never learned in school! November 28, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
I found this book fascinating. Not remembering anything but the vaguest details from school, to see WWI from different perspectives gave me a new appreciation of how the world went to war and why. It was interesting to read of the preparations that were underway 10 (and in some cases, nearly 20) years prior to the outbreak of war. The fact that so much of the mindset was being formed by people who had nothing to lose by setting wheels into motion is frightening......and not much different than today.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Particularly Robust December 28, 2013
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I will give Paul Ham credit for a reasonable synopsis of Europe on "The Eve of War", however in the 80 odd pages of his thesis I find no new news... Paul attempts to suggest that many historians and political scientists have failed to construct what he has done. This is simply not the case. I merely need reflect back on my 10th Grade history class in a public high school as proof. That war was essentially inevitable in 1914 is not as significant a point as KNOWING as they did that it was coming why didn't the royal families of Europe do more to stop it? That a pathetic Serbian nationalist's actions could thrust nations so blindly into a cataclysm that ultimately led to the deaths of nearly a 100 million people (one should add those who died from the 1919 influenza epidemic and the Bolshevik takeover of Russia to Paul's estimate of 36 million direct deaths) and the collapse of a social order that was doing a great deal more than Ham gives credit for trying to change to accommodate societal needs such as healthcare, better housing, better wages, suffrage and so forth. These leaders authorized the budgets that created the artillery, ships and millions of pieces of other equipment that fueled the war. They were not as blind as Paul suggests to the lethality of the instruments they had created, otherwise why would they have created them? So, while Ham writes a good thesis, he doesn't really add anything to this real question. World War 1 should and could have been avoided whereas World War 2 was truly inevitable because of the leaderships of all the major European and Asian players that were created largely as a result of the last war's unfinished business.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An illuminating and provocative brief history December 13, 2013
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Author Paul Ham’s 1913: Eve of War is an illuminating and provocative brief history of the how the great powers of Europe (Britain, France, Germany, and Russia) inexorably prepared both their armies and their peoples as prelude to the events of August 1914 that served to ignite World War I. Ham’s stated objective is to dispel the long established historical theory that “the governments of Europe groped blindly towards war”. He characterizes 1913 as a period when the threat of a European war reached a fever pitch resulting from many years of war preparation efforts among the great powers.
Readers will learn that the economies of Britain, France, Germany, and to a lesser extent, Russia, prospered from industrialization and imperialism during the period of 1880 to 1913. This prosperity supported the competitive development of military strength and armaments (nominally for “defensive” purposes), and extensive war plans by the great powers – essentially what we would now call an “arms race”. Significantly, it also nurtured among the establishment and youth of each nation strong feelings of patriotism and racial pride that were fanned by an often rabid press. Germany feared being encircled by Russia and France; the British feared the rapid expansion of German sea power; while France both feared and loathed Germany after its bitter loss of the Alsace- Lorraine territories in the 1871 Franco Prussian War. Alliances were formed: Britain, France, and Russia became the Triple Entente; Germany and Austria-Hungary were allies joined by Turkey in October 1914 to become the Triple Alliance.
The assassination of the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand by a Serbian terrorist in August 1914 became the spark that ignited WWI, a war that endured for five years with casualties approaching 20 million persons.
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