“An absorbing history of WWI’s origins. . . . Superb.” –Newsweek
“An enormously impressive book, a popular history brimming with fresh scholarship.”The Weekly Standard
"No one has deconstructed the war quite the way Fromkin has.... Through it all are the telling details of diplomatic and military life that make the period so utterly tragic." The Boston Globe
“A crisp, lively, day-by-day account of that fateful summer . . . This book, both decisive and nuanced, is as convincing as it is appalling.” –Foreign Affairs
“Excellent . . . Europe’s Last Summer never bogs down, covers the ground, and makes its points. It is also charmingly written.” –The New Criterion
“Magnificent, consistently compelling. . . . Written with clarity and insight. . . . [Fromkin] masterfully guies us through the complexities of appropriate prewar and European diplomatic and military history.” –BookPage
“The boldness of Formkin’s argument is enough to warrant attention, but his fluidity of expression guarantees a large audience.”–Booklist (starred)
“Fromkin’s thoroughgoing account gives answers that only new research and previously too-often hidden records could provide. . . . Comes to new conclusions.”–Richmond Times-Dispatch
“A fast-paced, gripping guide through the complex set of reasons and emotions that led to the 20th century’s seminal conflict.” –CNN.com
Bamford makes this case largely in the last third of his book. He uses the first two-thirds to meticulously lay out how the Sept. 11 aircraft were hijacked, the numerous intelligence and logistical failures that led to al Qaeda's successful strike and the reaction to the attacks in official Washington. Highly readable and well-researched, this account offers new insights into how the Sept. 11 hijackings occurred, while also showing how terribly ill-equipped and unprepared our defense systems were to deal with these kinds of attacks.
The Washington Post
The world of nihilistic terrorist conspiracy, paranoid empires and diplomatic opportunism that Fromkin (In the Time of the Americans) describes in this terrific account of WWI's underpinnings will seem eerily familiar to 21st-century denizens. Fromkin allies a direct, compulsively readable style with a daunting command of sources old and new, unrolling a complex skein of events with assurance and wit and dispatching numerous conventional wisdoms. The view (most influentially stated in Barbara Tuchman's Vietnam-era Guns of August), that the war, unwanted by all, was the result of an unfortunate series of accidents, is neutralized by the clearly presented evidence of careful premeditation and planning on the part of Germany and Austro-Hungary, as is the more recent assertion of Niall Ferguson's The Pity of War that if only the rest of Europe had acceded to Germany's imperial ambitions, the whole business might have been avoided. The enormity of the horrors unleashed in that fateful summer-and the culpability of all sides in exacerbating them-has made laying blame for the war squarely at the foot of the German and Austrian leadership unfashionable, but the evidence assembled by Fromkin is strong. His pictures of a Germany feeling itself (without real cause) surrounded, convinced of an imminent national demise from which only war could save it and of the Kafkaesque Austro-Hungarian empire lurching toward Armageddon are pitiless and sharp. Readers who ate up Margaret MacMillan's account of the war's aftermath, in Paris 1919, shouldn't miss this equally accomplished chronicle of its beginning. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
World War I is again attracting a great deal of academic and journalistic interest. Fromkin treats it as a murder mystery, with great success. After a crisp, lively, day-by-day account of that fateful summer, he concludes that what struck Europe in June 1914 was anything but "jagged lightning flashing suddenly across a summer sky"; it was, rather, a powder keg ready to explode long before the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on June 28. (After all, Germany's military leaders had begun to advocate preventive war against Russia and France as early as 1905, and Vienna had begun to draft an ultimatum against Serbia two weeks before the assassination.) The blame for this explosion Fromkin pins squarely on Germany and Austria, or at least on the "small governing cliques" that were responsible for the war. Fromkin sees the war as a struggle for mastery in Europe, not for empire. And his bleak conclusion is that, since it takes only one to start a war, it could happen again. This book, both decisive and nuanced, is as convincing as its story is appalling.
Fromkin (history, Boston Univ.; Peace To End All Peace) presents the thesis that the outbreak of hostilities in the summer of 1914 was not an accidental slide into bloody conflict exacerbated by complex alliances, ideologies, racism, or fervent nationalism. Instead, World War I was the product of a deliberate agenda on the part of the military elite in Germany and, to a lesser degree, in Austria. Fromkin singles out Prussian generals Erich von Falkenhayn and Helmuth von Moltke, arguing that it was their unflinching conviction that the rising power of Russia must be extinguished before it became Europe's dominant nation. The generals' preemptive strategy precipitated the whole series of events that led to total war in Europe. This theme was first expressed in Fritz Fischer's classic Germany's War Aims in the First World War and recently resurrected in The Origins of World War I, a collection of essays edited by Richard F. Hamilton and Holger H. Herwig. Fromkin's scholarly stature adds further creditability to this viewpoint. Essential for all World War I collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/03.]-Jim Doyle, Sara Hightower Regional Lib., Rome, GA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
If you listen closely, you can hear the guns of August blasting a decade and more before WWI actually began. Fromkin (History/Boston Univ.; The Way of the World, 1999, etc.) delivers a thesis that will be new to general readers (though not to specialists): WWI came about because of the very different, but conveniently intersecting, ambitions of the German and Austro-Hungarian empires, and the signs were evident long before the fighting began. The Habsburgs wanted to crush Serbia, which they (perhaps rightly) perceived to be a potent threat to Austro-Hungarian designs in the Balkans; the Austrian chief of staff "first proposed preventive war against Serbia in 1906, and he did so in 1908-9, in 1912-13, in October 1913, and May 1914: between 1 January 1913 and 1 January 1914 he proposed a Serbian war twenty-five times." Just so, the Kaiser wanted to crush Russia, which he regarded as Germany's one real rival for European dominance; war against Serbia would provide a useful pretext, though it wasn't essential. Indeed, writes Fromkin, when a Slavic nationalist assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28, 1914, in Sarajevo, the rest of Europe practically yawned; even Austria did not retaliate immediately, despite Germany's urging to get on with the game. "Austria did not play its part very well," Fromkin writes, and did not even bother declaring war on Germany's enemies until some time after the war had actually begun. Similarly, Germany neglected to declare war on Serbia, "the only country with which Austria was at war and which, according to Vienna, was the country that posed the threat to Austria's existence." Fromkin's notion that a pan-German conspiracy caused WWI is credible, even ifthe events he describes sometimes seem more a comedy of errors than a model of efficient militarism. Still, his account of the war's origins, though surely arguable at many points, fills in many gaps. First printing of 50,000. Agent: Suzanne Gluck/William Morris