- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
“[McMeekin is] a young, talented historian.... [He] is scrupulously fair and judicious in assigning blame.... McMeekin has written a fascinating and original study of the opening stages of World War I, a book that supersedes, in my view, any previous study of that great topic.”
Harold Evans, New York Times Book Review
“The historiography of World War I is immense, more than 25,000 volumes and articles even before next year’s centenary. Still, ... Sean McMeekin, in July 1914, [offers a] new perspective.... McMeekin has chosen the zoom lens. He opens with a crisp but vivid reconstruction of the double murder in the sunshine of Sarajevo, then concentrates entirely on unraveling the choreography day by day.”
Sunday Times (London)
“[A] work of meticulous scholarship.... It is McMeekin’s description of the details of life in the European capitals comparatively small events which influenced great decisions which make July 1914 irresistible.... It is that sort of intimacy which makes the story come alive as well as confirming the assiduity with which it has been researched.”
New York Review of Books
“Sean McMeekin’s chronicle of these weeks in July 1914: Countdown to War is almost impossible to put down.... [McMeekin] delivers a punchy and riveting narrative of high politics and diplomacy over the five weeks after Sarajevo, more or less day by day, dwelling on small groups of decision-makers in and between the various capitals, and their interactions, by turns measured, perplexed, cordial, artful, angry, even tearful.”
Times Higher Education (UK)
“In this detailed account of the events and decisions that marked the road to war, Sean McMeekin demonstrates how, during what seemed a peaceful summer month, something that might have ended (at worst) in just another bloody Balkan battle led instead to the outbreak of the greatest conflict since the Napoleonic Wars.... [A] startling exercise in revisionism.”
“Stimulating and enjoyable.... Sean McMeekin’s July 1914 is controversial, arguing that Russia and France were more bent than Germany on war in July 1914.... [A] well-written book.”
On Point Radio
“McMeekin makes this old story new. His history reads like a novel. Better, it unfolds like a play.... McMeekin adds dollops of fresh savory fact on every page. More importantly, he sees the whole crisis unclouded by bias for or against his characters or their countries.... July 1914 is superb history and compelling reading.”
“Blending scholarly research with a breezy and descriptive writing style, McMeekin makes a reader feel like a firsthand witness to the key events of that fateful summer.... McMeekin’s work is also a primer for today’s diplomats on how not to allow a small event to spiral out of control into a major war.”
The Independent (London)
“Lucid, convincing and full of rich detail, the book is a triumph for the narrative method and a vivid demonstration that chronology is the logic of history.”
“McMeekin’s account is particularly worth reading for the weight it puts on the French and Russian contribution in taking the continent to war, drawing on his excellent previous book The Russian Origins of the Frist World War.... [A] refreshingly original counterpoint to the traditional focus on Germany above all.”
Sunday Express (London)
“Sean McMeekin’s splendid July 1914 unravels all the shenanigans, bluffs and bunglings by which Europe’s leaders and diplomats turned a minor murder in a Balkans backwater into total war.... McMeekin has rendered the complicated events of that fateful month as clearly and vividly as anyone could desire.”
“[A] fascinating study of Austrian and German ham-handed diplomacy (bordering on cluelessness) combined with Russian and French duplicity, with a dose of British disengagement added for good measure.”
World War One Historical Association Magazine
“[McMeekin’s] recounting of the imbroglio of July 1914 reads like a crime novel with personality sketches of the primary actors such as the belligerent Austrian Chief Of Staff von Hötzendoff and the shifty Serbian Premier Nicola Pasic.”
Journal of Military History
“McMeekin convincingly challenges, as others are now doing, the more usual view of Germany as the driving force behind the war.... [His] explication of the successive diplomatic steps to war makes it easy for any reader to see the missed chances for possible negotiation or a slowing of the momentum to war.”
San Antonio Express-News
“In an intimate narrative, McMeekin...delves into the five weeks between the assassination and Britain’s declaration of war, shedding new light on the conflict.... From a failed assassination attempt to a world war, McMeekin skillfully dissects the catastrophic events of July 1914.... July 1914 is an eye-opening elucidation on the beginning days of a war that was to end all wars.”
“July 1914 is a carefully-researched diplomatic history of the month leading up to World War I. Well-written, it reconstructs the tensions and turmoil as well as the confusion and blundering of the diplomats who guided Europe into its most destructive war. It concludes with an excellent analysis of the responsibilities and failures of the major figures.”
Dallas Morning News
“The conventional wisdom of the last 100 years holds that Germany’s desire for empire and cultural hegemony turned Princip’s deed into an excuse for war. Barbara Tuchman’s famed history, The Guns of August, makes the most of this case. Sean McMeekin...argues that ambitions in Russia and France were at least as responsible and traces the foibles of Europe’s major powers in a month that launched a disaster for them all.... McMeekin praises Tuchman’s 1962 epic for inspiring him to write July 1914. What he’s delivered is a strong challenge to The Guns of August.”
MHQ: Quarterly Journal of Military History
“McMeekin is a wonderful storyteller, with a keen eye for the descriptive act, person, or scene.”
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“[A] superbly researched political history of the weeks between the assassination of Austria’s Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the beginning of World War I.... McMeekin’s work is a fine diplomatic history of the period, a must-read for serious students of WWI, and a fascinating story for anyone interested in modern history.”
Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
“[A] thoroughly rewarding account that spares no nation regarding the causes of World War I.... McMeekin delivers a gripping, almost day-by-day chronicle of the increasingly frantic maneuvers of European civilian leaders who mostly didn’t want war and military leaders who had less objection.”
“Alluding to historical controversies, McMeekin ably delivers what readers demand from a WWI-origins history: a taut rendition of the July 1914 crisis.”
Norman Stone, author of World War Two: A Short History
“Sean McMeekin is establishing himself as a—or even the—leading young historian of modern Europe. Here he turns his gifts to the outbreak of war in July 1914 and has written another masterpiece.”
Michael Neiberg, author of The Blood of Free Men
“Sean McMeekin has given us a riveting and fast-paced account of some of the most important diplomatic and military decisions of the 20th century. He depicts with chilling clarity the confusion, the incompetence, and the recklessness with which Europe’s leaders went to war in that fateful summer. Any understanding of the world we inhabit today must begin with an examination of the events of July 1914. McMeekin provides his readers with a balanced and detailed analysis of the events that gave birth to the modern age.”
James Sheehan, author of Where Have All the Soldiers Gone?: The Transformation of Modern Europe
“This is a meticulously researched and vividly written reconstruction of the decisions that lead to war in July 1914. McMeekin captures the human drama of this fateful month and offers a provocative assessment of the different players’ moral responsibility.”
Charles Hill, Diplomat in Residence at Yale University, Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, and author of Trial of a Thousand Years: World Order and Islamism
“Winners write the histories, so wars are misunderstood. Sean McMeekin takes a wider stance to get a fresh angle of vision on The Great War, and casts all war-making in a new light.”
Posted May 26, 2013
Overall an easily readable, very informative book. Well-organized in that the Prologue concerning the assassination in Sarajevo on June 28th sets the stage, then the events of July are covered step-by-step and country-by-country, followed by an excellent summarizing Epilogue: Who Bears Responsibility. Occasionally the details can be overwhelming but there are helpful reference pages about the chronology and cast of characters. Given the fact that the consequences of World War I still affect today's world, this less well known history of the war's prelude in July 1914 is worth a read. However, if you want the shortest of summaries, I would say the bottom line is that the leaders of all the involved countries wanted war more than peace.
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 16, 2013
Posted September 26, 2013
Posted January 27, 2014
The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his morganatic wife the Duchess Sophia in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914 triggered a series of events that are being felt even to this day. While a cursory overview of history - at least to me - seemed to imply that fighting took place very soon after the assassination, the reality was something quite different.
The fact of the matter was that ethnic tensions, political considerations and good old-fashioned lying and backstabbing led to what was first called the Great War, then sadly to the First World War as Adolf Hitler decided he wanted to re-fight WWI all over again. The backstory of this war has a lot of moving parts and Sean McMeekin has done a masterful job of relaying this as history should be told - as a story. There are a lot of characters in play here (and thank goodness for the Dramatis Personae that helps keep you straight).
McMeekin tells the story from various points of view - whether Russian, German, Austrian, French or English. He also makes sure to mention influences resulting from the two Balkan Wars of the late 1900s - early 1910s. He pulls no punches and takes no sides; he brings up the evidence and calls it like he sees it.
Ultimately, what McMeekin shows to us is the frailty and weakness of humanity. The evidence shows that this was far from mankind's finest hour. The reader will see leaders not working with each other, working towards war, deliberate obtuseness, blind naivete, or - in the case of England - so much navel gazing. The results, sadly, were measured in the deaths of millions of people in both world wars.
BOTTOM LINE: This is the perfect book for an introduction into the history of World War I.
Posted June 2, 2013
Posted April 12, 2013