July Crisis: The World's Descent into War, Summer 1914

July Crisis: The World's Descent into War, Summer 1914

by Thomas Otte

View All Available Formats & Editions

Definitive new account of the catalytic events of July 1914 that led to the outbreak of the First World War.See more details below


Definitive new account of the catalytic events of July 1914 that led to the outbreak of the First World War.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
As fascinated with WWI as four preceding generations of colleagues, Otte (The Foreign Office Mind: 1865-1914), professor of history at the University of East Anglia, delivers an opinionated account of the run-up to the war that sticks close to the primary documents. He relentlessly emphasizes the poor intellectual quality of most European leaders at the time and their weakness, both in responding to the assassination of Austria-Hungary’s Archduke Franz Ferdinand and that nation’s consequent desire for revenge. Paranoid about being encircled, German leaders fretted over supporting their ally Austria-Hungary, whose Great Power–status was fading; Austria-Hungary, in turn, was entirely preoccupied with the Balkans. France prioritized supporting Russia over all other considerations, while Russian leaders, humiliated by Germany in earlier Balkan standoffs, were determined not to repeat the experience. In Otte’s view, British foreign minister Edward Grey and German ambassador to London Karl Lichnowsky did not share in the general incompetence. Grey consistently urged negotiation, and Lichnowsky faithfully informed his superiors, who ignored him. This is meticulous political history, dense with footnotes but clearly written. Not shy about answering the unanswerable, Otte evaluates leading views on why the war happened as he offers points of disagreement. The book is highly accomplished but potentially controversial. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
"Anyone planning to wade through the vast outpouring of literature on the First World War might do well to make July Crisis their first port of call."
Jules Stewart, Military History

"By returning meticulously to sources that many historians have ignored, one of Britain’s brightest new-generation historians, Thomas Otte, has come up with a startlingly original yet wholly believable new interpretation of the true causes of the Great War. This is historical scholarship at its best, with the bonus of being written with a gently ironic yet extremely funny wit, in a subject that isn’t naturally given to it."
Andrew Roberts, author of The Storm of War (2010)

"This account of the July crisis will become the gold standard for all future historians. Unlike almost all contemporary studies, Otte has gone back to the original sources and used both public and private collections, some never cited before, to trace the unfolding of these fateful days. His judgments are convincing and clearly presented. Otte catches the drama of these weeks and carries the reader with him to the very end."
Zara Steiner, author of The Lights That Failed (2005) and The Triumph of the Dark (2011)

"The first new analysis of the origins of the war based on original documents, July Crisis will become the classic account. Otte's scholarship is unsurpassed: his judgments are judicious and fair and based on a deep understanding of both the evidence and its context. It is unlikely to be superseded."
Keith Neilson, author of Britain, Soviet Russia and the Collapse of the Versailles Order, 1919–1939 (2005)

"Thomas Otte brings impeccable and painstaking research and a flair for story-telling to illuminate Europe’s last weeks of peace in 1914. From the assassination of the Archduke in Sarajevo to the outbreak of a general war five weeks later, he shows how a series of individual decisions led towards the catastrophe."
Margaret MacMillan, author of The War That Ended Peace: How Europe Abandoned Peace for the First World War (2013)

"Historians like Otte are painting a whole new picture of the origins of the Great War … But the best part of this virtuoso examination of the 38-day political and diplomatic crisis that stretched from the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand to Germany's declaration of war on Russia is the way Otte, a professor at the University of East Anglia, restores individual actors to where they should be: at the centre of historical events. Once it began, the First World War was so unpredictable in its course and so momentous in its outcomes - some of which, like the current Iraqi crisis, the world is still working through - that historians have increasingly tended to pin its outbreak on huge impersonal forces, a socio-economic-technological horror story whose time had come. By poring over archival records and postwar memoirs (the latter with a properly jaundiced eye), Otte brings to light the calculations (mostly bad) and motivations of the handful of men whose decisions brought Europe to catastrophe."
Brian Bethune, Maclean's

"I've rarely read a more sickeningly thrilling first chapter than the opener of July Crisis … Otte takes you step by fateful step to the moment that changed the world forever."
Katharine Whittemore, The Boston Globe

"If you want to understand how Europe stumbled into suicide in 1914, read this book."
The Independent

"Otte’s account is refreshing, captivating and compelling in its description of the twists and turns of the crisis and, above all, humane in its analysis of the ambiguities and frailties of its protagonists. It dispels so successfully the usual teleological march to war, that this reviewer repeatedly found himself believing that an outcome other than the tragic one we all know would ensue."
J. F. V. Keiger, International Affairs

"2014 seemed a good year to read a bit more about 1914, and there were a lot of new books to choose from … But the best account is T. G. Otte's July Crisis: The World's Descent into War, Summer 1914, which unpacks the motives and muddles of the leaders of Europe with unmatched clarity. Read it slowly."
Lowy Institute

Read More

Product Details

Cambridge University Press
Publication date:
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Sales rank:
File size:
7 MB

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >