- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: Walker Books; 1st edition (February 21, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0802778119
- ISBN-13: 978-0802778116
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 34.5 x 238.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 46 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #663,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Lost History of 1914: Reconsidering the Year the Great War Began 1st Edition
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Augmenting the literature on the origins of WWI, Beatty dwells on domestic political situations in the initial belligerents, plus the U.S. According to him, but for those particular arrangements and specific events, war might not have erupted in August 1914. In France, the murder of Le Figaro’s editor by the wife of Joseph Caillaux destroyed the latter’s possibility of becoming prime minister, in which post, Beatty infers, he would have resisted war. Likewise in Austria-Hungary, Franz Ferdinand, he posits, might have counseled peace despite the Serbian assassination of another official. Britain’s absorption in a prospective civil war in Ireland might have emboldened Germany, where the Junker caste held the upper hand over its liberal and socialist opposition after a political fracas in Alsace. As for Russia, Beatty covers the ascendance of ministers less worried by revolution than by German influence at Constantinople. A provocative discussion concerning internal affairs, though with limited linkage to the diplomatic contexts that actually detonated the war, Beatty’s work will appeal to readers attracted by history regarded from counterfactual perspectives. --Gilbert Taylor
“Thought-provoking, and often mordantly ironic.” ―The New Yorker
“Beatty's achievement isn't so much in discovering new material about World War I as it is in taking apart what is known about 1914 and assembling it in a different form. We see, of course, what might have been--but more important, we see, in a different light, what was. It was a calamity.” ―David Shribman, The Boston Globe
“Beatty seeks to navigate the historiography of the first great conflict of the twentieth century away from the 'metaphysical no-man's land of historical inevitability' and back into the 'trenches of empiricism.'” ―The New Statesman
“Beatty... captures the sweep of the events that gripped the world and illuminates the epic arrogance, the paranoia, the pettiness and the myopic self-serving views of the European heads of state who had laid the cornerstone of a conflict that would lead to the deaths of millions from Moscow to Maine.” ―Paul Collins, Nashua Telegraph
“Beatty has a great eye for the vivid details that reveal character...'Downton Abbey' notwithstanding, the prewar era really does seem like a lost time. Beatty manages to shed some light on that receding era.” ―Michael Hill, The Associated Press
“THE LOST HISTORY OF 1914 brings alive much of the official world of a century ago.” ―Bruce Ramsey, Seattle Times
“Bold stuff...[An] exuberant and bulging rag-bag of counter-factual history that challenges the 'cult of inevitability' that Europe's war-leaders were retrospectively so eager to embrace.” ―David Crane, The Spectator
“[A] startling study of what Woodrow Wilson called 'an injury to civilization.'” ―Eve Ottenberg, In These Times
“Spritely, captivating…[Beatty's book] delivers his signature storyteller's insights. Hardly any writer working today can amass such an enormous array of information and shape it all so effortlessly into paragraph after compelling paragraph. The centennial of World War I is bound to produce a tsunami of verbiage – and, if we're lucky, some genuinely first-rate stuff. THE LOST HISTORY OF 1914…steals a march on all of them. Highly recommended.” ―Steve Donoghue, Open Letters Monthly
“THE LOST HISTORY OF 1914 will leave its mark on how we think about World War I and perhaps, beyond that, on how we think about history and history in the making.” ―Harvey Blume, The Arts Fuse
Top customer reviews
Once the war happened there is a tendency among Historians to treat it as a preordained event.This work,by examining aspects that were not given the attention they deserved,illuminates in a different way the accepted wisdom of the inevitability of this war and advances the case that this war it could have been avoided or postponed.It demonstrates definitively how much domestic issues affected the foreign policy of all Nations involved.
I personally believe,having read a lot of works on this subject that some form of a European major war was very probable,but the interesting thing about this book is the reminder that probable does not necessarily means certain.
Historians since 1919 tend to treat the war as bound to happen because they rightly consider the clash of many interests of all Nations perceived by them as vital and the strong war parties in these Nations.The importance of this well researched and well written book is to present forgotten alternatives and offer an alternative view.
I am not sure if the conclusions of the author are correct.Prof C.Clark in his book The Sleepwalkers is certainly moreilluminating and argues better on the subject.
This book will not change the mainstream opinions on the origins of this war,the case is not all that well presented and the descriptions of events are better than the conclusions.
It does however add to the Panorama of Europe's March of Folly , much like what we see today in the Middle East ,or Pakistan which resembles more and more to Serbia then,but with nuclear weapons
Beatty devotes most of the book to looking at the landscape of politics in the major participants in the war.
a. The United States which would not enter the war until April 1, 1917 was supporting the Mexican Revolution against President Huerta being led by bandits such as Pancho Villa and Zapata. President Wilson sent money, troops and equipment to the insurgents. The Germans thought America would be too immersed in Mexican affairs to become embroiled in a distant argument between European belligerants. Due to the Zimmerman telegram, the sinking of the Lusitania and the German Army's cruelty in Belgium the United States was pulled into the war. Herbert Hoover is praised by Beatty for his peerless relief to starving Belgian persons living under German rule.
b. Great Britain's major problem in 1914 appeared to be the Home Rule of Ireland conflict. The loyal Unionists of Belfast wanted to remain in the British Empire while in southern Ireland the people wanted complete independence from England.Civil war was a real possibility in class conscious England. However, when push came to shove the British came to the defense of their allies France and Russia forcing the Germans into a two front war. Major Britsh players such as Prime Minister Herbert Asquith and Winston Churchill First Lord of the Admirality are profiled. The failed Dardanelles Campaign is discussed by Beatty who believes Churchill was not completely responsible for that disaster. Rather, the author contends, it was a policy of the government to seize he Dardanelles and take enemy Turkey (an ally of Germany) out of the war. The campaign led to Churchill's dismissal and years in the political wilderness.
c. Russia under Tsar Nicholas (who reigned from 1894 to his assassination by the Bolsheviks in 1918) feared peasant revolts.
The Russians were bound to the act in defense of their Serbian brethren after the assassination of Franz Ferdinand the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary after his assassination on June 28, 1914 by Slav nationalists in Sarejvo.
d. Austria-Hungary was a congeries of competing ethnic groups under the aged rule of Franz-Joseph the elderly Hapsburg monarch. This nation would foolishly attack Serbia. War could have been prevented through compromise and wise diplomacy.
e. Germany was an "army that had a state attached" as the military ruled the Prussian state. Kaiser Wilhelm II wanted to extend his empire and defeat the liberal socialist in Germany.
f. France-The liberal Joseph Cailleux who might have become head of the French government was ruined by a murder trial in which his wife murdered (but was acquitted) of shooting to death a newspaper editor. Under the conservative government of Poincare France moved to war.
The book contends that trench warfare saved lives instead of the offensives that were launched in the first year of the war which took over one million lives. Beatty also says the Schliefflin plan was not in the cards for use by the Germans.
The book is well illustrated with period photos, cartoons and contains quotations by the participants. An excellent book!