1914-1918: The History of the First World War by David Stevenson

By David Stevenson

In the summertime of 1914 Europe exploded right into a frenzy of mass violence. The struggle that had worldwide repercussions, destroying 4 empires and costing hundreds of thousands of lives. Even the effective international locations have been scarred for a iteration, and we nonetheless this present day stay in the conflict's shadow. during this significant new research, released a few 90 years after the 1st international conflict begun, David Stevenson re-examines the reasons, path and influence of this 'war to finish war', putting it within the context of its period and exposing its underlying dynamics. His ebook presents a wide-ranging foreign historical past, drawing on insights from the most recent study. It deals compelling solutions to the most important questions about how this poor fight opened up: questions that stay disturbingly appropriate for our personal time

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Only great powers can wage great wars, and six European states acknowledged each other as such: Britain, France, Russia, Austria-Hungary (divided since 1867 into ‘Austrian’ and ‘Hungarian’ halves that shared a common sovereign), Italy (created under Piedmont’s leadership in 1861), and Germany (forged under Prussian dominance in 1871). Though unequal in their political influence and military might, all (at least on paper) were stronger than any of their neighbours. All owed their birth in part to violence and all were willing to use it.

Battlecruisers carried comparable artillery to battleships, but were faster because they were more lightly armoured. The most modern capital ships were known as ‘dreadnought’ battleships or battlecruisers (c. 17,000 tons or more in displacement) if they had speed and firepower comparable to or greater than those of HMS Dreadnought (1906). However, in 1914 most navies operated both dreadnought and pre-dreadnought capital ships (or hybrid variants). Cruisers were divided into heavy (or ‘armoured’) cruisers (over 10,000 tons), intended to fight as scouting vessels in fleet actions alongside capital ships, and light cruisers (2,000–14,000 tons), less heavily protected and intended to guard trade routes or colonial outposts.

It was the Habsburg monarchy’s response to Sarajevo that caused a crisis. Initially all it seemed to do was order an investigation. But secretly the Austrians obtained a German promise of support for drastic retaliation. On 23 July they presented an ultimatum to their neighbour, Serbia. Princip and his companions were Bosnians (and therefore Habsburg subjects), but the ultimatum alleged they had conceived their plot in Belgrade, that Serbian officers and officials had supplied them with their weapons, and that Serbian frontier authorities had helped them cross the border.

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