Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The War that Ended Peace

The War that Ended Peace: The Road to 1914                                        
By: Margaret MacMillan  (her website)
Random House, 2013

The War that Ended Peace is a history of the early 20th century leading up to the First World War.  MacMillan examines the events, treaties, and relationships between the major European countries and the personalities of the key players and leaders.  MacMillan focuses much of her attention on the actions of various leaders and their jostling for power.  At the book's heart lies the question of inevitability -was the war inevitable?  Had a single leader acted differently in just one incident could the course of history been altered or was the period so dominated by hot-headedness that the sequence of events leading to war would have happened regardless of what those individual events entailed?

1. The book was well-written, which enabled me to comprehend a complex morass of treatises, dates, and personalities with relative ease.  The book is so full of information that it can be a bit daunting, but MacMillan's ease of writing makes up for that challenge.
2. MacMillan easily drives home her main thesis surrounding the question of inevitability.  She does not belabor her point, but at no moment in the book does she waver from her intention.  She does not get pedantic or lose the reader with excess information that distracts from the main goal.
3. I read the book on my Kindle, which caused some formatting issues - primarily random question marks in the various Russian names.

On the whole, the book is a solid, informative history of the actions that led to a war and the altering of European society.  It is packed with information, however (this at times makes it a bit of a slog to get through), so be sure to go in alert and ready to pay attention and learn. (3.5/5 stars)

Recommend To:
Anyone interested in foreign policy relations and military history.  Targeted to an audience with a more serious interest in the history of the period, though written and clearly marketed towards a popular versus academic audience it isn't as accessible as other popular histories I have read.

Food for Thought:
Can any historical event be truly inevitable?

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