|| War or peace? -- Europe in 1900 -- Great Britain and splendid isolation -- "Woe to the country that has a child for king!" : Wilhelm II and Germany -- Weltpolitik: Germany's place on the world stage -- Dreadnought: the Anglo-German naval rivalry -- Unlikely friends: the Entente Cordiale between France and Britain -- The bear and the whale: Russia and Great Britain -- The loyalty of the Nibelungs: the dual alliance of Austria-Hungary and Germany -- What were they thinking? : hopes, fears, ideas, and unspoken assumptions -- Dreaming of peace -- Thinking about war -- Making the plans -- The crises start: Germany, France, and Morocco -- The Bosnian crisis: confrontation between Russia and Austria-Hungary in the Balkans -- 1911, the year of discords: Morocco again -- The first Balkan Wars -- Preparing for war or peace: Europe's last months of peace -- Assassination at Sarajevo -- The end of the Concert of Europe: Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia -- Turning out the lights: Europe's last week of peace -- The War.
|| This work presents a narrative portrait of Europe in the years leading up to World War I that illuminates the political, cultural, and economic factors and contributing personalities that shaped major events. From the author of Paris 1919 comes a piece of narrative nonfiction, a portrait of Europe from 1900 up to the outbreak of World War I. The century since the end of the Napoleonic wars had been the most peaceful era Europe had known since the fall of the Roman Empire. In the first years of the twentieth century, Europe believed it was marching to a golden, happy, and prosperous future. But instead, complex personalities and rivalries, colonialism and ethnic nationalisms, and shifting alliances helped to bring about the failure of the long peace and the outbreak of a war that transformed Europe and the world. This book brings to life the military leaders, politicians, diplomats, bankers, and the extended, interrelated family of crowned heads across Europe who failed to stop the descent into war: in Germany, the mercurial Kaiser Wilhelm II and the chief of the German general staff, Von Moltke the Younger; in Austria-Hungary, Emperor Franz Joseph, a man who tried, through sheer hard work, to stave off the coming chaos in his empire; in Russia, Tsar Nicholas II and his wife; in Britain, King Edward VII, Prime Minister Herbert Asquith, and British admiral Jacky Fisher, the fierce advocate of naval reform who entered into the arms race with Germany that pushed the continent toward confrontation on land and sea. There are the would-be peacemakers as well, among them prophets of the horrors of future wars whose warnings went unheeded: Alfred Nobel, who donated his fortune to the cause of international understanding, and Bertha von Suttner, a writer and activist who was the first woman awarded Nobel's new Peace Prize. Here too we meet the urbane and cosmopolitan Count Harry Kessler, who noticed many of the early signs that something was stirring in Europe; the young Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty and a rising figure in British politics; Madame Caillaux, who shot a man who might have been a force for peace; and more. With indelible portraits, the author shows how the fateful decisions of a few powerful people changed the course of history. This book is a wise cautionary reminder of how wars happen in spite of the near-universal desire to keep the peace. It enriches our understanding of one of the defining periods and events of the twentieth century. -- Publisher.