The Lost History of 1914: How the Great War Was Not Inevitable
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The Lost History of 1914: How the Great War Was Not Inevitable

by Jack Beatty
     
 

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In The Lost History of 1914, Jack Beatty offers a highly original view of World War I, testing against fresh evidence the long-dominant assumption that it was inevitable. "Most books set in 1914 map the path leading to war," Beatty writes, "This one maps the multiple paths that led away from it." Reexamining the standard account of the war's outbreak, Beatty

Overview

In The Lost History of 1914, Jack Beatty offers a highly original view of World War I, testing against fresh evidence the long-dominant assumption that it was inevitable. "Most books set in 1914 map the path leading to war," Beatty writes, "This one maps the multiple paths that led away from it." Reexamining the standard account of the war's outbreak, Beatty presents the assassination of Archduke Ferninand not as the catalyst of a war that would have broken out in any event over some other crisis, but rather as its "all-but-unique precipitant."

Chronicling largely forgotten events faced by each of the belligerent countries in the months before the war started, Beatty shows how any one of them—a possible military coup in Germany; an imminent civil war in Britain; the murder trial of the wife of the likely next premier of France, who sought détente with Germanymight have derailed the war or brought it to a different end. In Beatty's hands, these stories open up into epiphanies of national character and offer dramatic portraits of the year's major actors—Kaiser Wilhelm, Tsar Nicholas II, Woodrow Wilson, Winston Churchill, Emperor Francis Joseph, along with forgotten or overlooked characters such as Pancho Villa, Rasputin, and Herbert Hoover.
Beatty's deeply insightful book—as elegantly written as it is thought-provoking and probing—illuminates a lost world about to blow itself up in what George Kennan called "the great seminal catastrophe of the twentieth century." It also arms readers against invocations of historical inevitability in today's world.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"[A] rich, textural context that allows us to see the war, and indeed all of 1914, fresh . . . Beatty's book is an important contribution to our comprehension of a world bathed in misfortune and headed toward the senseless slaughter of nearly 20 million people. [His] achievement . . . is in taking apart what is known about 1914 and assembling it in different form. We see, of course, what might have been--but, more important, we see, in different light, what was. It was a calamity." —Boston Globe

"Thought-provoking." —New Yorker

"The Lost History of 1914 brings alive much of the official world of a century ago." —Seattle Times

"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." —The Associated Press

"A comprehensive and insightful examination . . . a rich chronicle of a lost time whose events have been blurred by the passing of decades. [The Lost History of 1914] provides a thoughtful perspective on a period that long ago slipped out of our national conscious and vanished in the foggy mists of time." —The Nashua Telegraph

"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." —Open Letters Monthly

"With admirable scholarship, riveting footnotes and acerbically unsparing prose, Beatty weaves together these primary strands: socialist struggles for peace, revolutionary fury at an imperialist war (Lenin, Trotsky, etc.), the war's barbarism, the genesis of Nazism and the extermination of European Jews, and the criminal indifference of the belligerents' governing elites." —In These Times

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781632862020
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
02/03/2015
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
1,065,457
Product dimensions:
5.52(w) x 8.22(h) x 1.08(d)

Meet the Author


Jack Beatty is On Point's news analyst and a longtime senior editor at The Atlantic Monthly. He joined The Atlantic in September of 1983, having previously worked as a book reviewer at Newsweek and as the literary editor of The New Republic. Beatty is the author of "The Rascal King" (1992), a biography of the legendary Boston mayor James Michael Curly that was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award; "The World According to Peter Drucker" (1998), an intellectual biography of the social thinker and management theorist; and "Age of Betrayal: The Triumph of Money in America, 1865-1900" (2007), a thematic history of the Gilded Age. In addition, he is the editor of "Colossus: How the Corporation Changed America" (2001), an anthology of readings on the history of the American corporation named by Business Week as one of the Ten Best Business Books of the year. He has received a Guggenheim fellowship, two fellowships from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, an Olive Branch Award from New York University, a William Allen White Award for criticism from the University of Kansas, and an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. Born and raised in Boston, Beatty now lives in Hanover, New Hampshire.

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