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1913: The Eve of War de Paul Ham
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1913: The Eve of War (edição: 2013)

de Paul Ham (Autor)

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Christmas 1913: in Britain, people are debating a new dance called 'the tango'. In Germany, they are fascinated by the wedding of the Kaiser's daughter to the Duke of Brunswick. Little did they know that their world was on 'The Eve of War', a catastrophe that was to engulf the continent, cost millions of lives, and change the course of the century. And yet behind the scenes, the Great Powers were marching towards what they thought was an inevitable conflict. In this controversial and concise essay, the military historian Paul Ham argues that the First World War was not an historical mistake, a conflict into which the Great Powers stumbled by accident. Nor was it a justified war, in which uncontained German aggression had to be defeated. Instead the politicians and generals of the day willed the war, and prepared for it - but eventually found themselves caught up in an inferno they could no longer control.… (mais)
Membro:alexodicino
Título:1913: The Eve of War
Autores:Paul Ham (Autor)
Informação:Endeavour Press Ltd. (2013), 83 pages
Coleções:Sua biblioteca
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1913: The Eve of War de Paul Ham

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1913: The Eve of War by Paul Ham sets the European stage for the start of WWI. Ham is the author of several books on 20th Century war, politics, and diplomacy. He has written several on the time period including the previously reviewed 1914: The Year the World Ended.

Europe was a happy place. Economic growth, new products and production contributed to an established middle class. There was stability. It has been ninety-eight years since the last continent wide war, and over forty years since any of the powers faced off in a war. Art, music, and leisure time made this a golden time.

Ham looks into the events that caused the war and tells that it is much more complex, and even a bit more absurd than what we came to believe. We all heard the blame placed on alliances and the assassination of the Arch Duke. These are simple answers that do not reflect the complexity of the situation. Alliances do not lead to war. Anyone who has lived through the Cold War recognizes that NATO and the Warsaw Pact kept the war cold. The Archduke was not liked at home or abroad. Emporer Franz Joseph is credited as thanking God for bringing order to his house after the assassination. No leaders from any of the powers attended the funeral. The Emporer, although shaken by the news of the assassination returned to the capital, but quickly resumed his vacation.

Suspicion, distrust, and prestige had more to do than anything else. There more than ample opportunities to stop the war before it started, but no one put forth the effort. Instead everyone planned for war. Railroads made mobilization quicker and also prevented a negotiation period from mobilization to the firing of shots. Once the troops boarded the trains, there was no turning back. Ham makes sense of and explains the complex events that lead to a very preventable war. ( )
  evil_cyclist | Mar 16, 2020 |

I was inspired to buy this Kindle Single after reading favourable reviews of Paul Ham’s book [b:1914: The Year the World Ended|18580198|1914 The Year the World Ended|Paul Ham|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1380004649s/18580198.jpg|26315354]. The Australian author wrote this book prior to 1914 being released so I'll forgive the duplication of a few chapters.
The centenary of the Great War lead to several titles bring released on the origins of the Great War (a topic upon which it is difficult to say much that is new). Most notably there has been Sean Mcmeekin's [b:July 1914: Countdown to War|15843081|July 1914 Countdown to War|Sean McMeekin|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1352794956s/15843081.jpg|21585366] and more controversially [b:The Russian Origins of the First World War|11819948|The Russian Origins of the First World War|Sean McMeekin|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1328044838s/11819948.jpg|16774331], Margaret McMillan’s [b:The War That Ended Peace: The Road To 1914|17345257|The War That Ended Peace The Road To 1914|Margaret MacMillan|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1364251068s/17345257.jpg|24084426] and Christopher Clark’s [b:The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914|18669169|The Sleepwalkers How Europe Went to War in 1914|Christopher Clark|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1384804367s/18669169.jpg|21905061]. Paul Ham freely acknowledges the abundance of material on this endlessly fascinating topic, however promises a fresh approach as he promises to treat the objective of his study as “to reach the core of the onion, the heart of its being, by peeling away many ‘narrative skins’: layers of misperception, blinkered plans, propaganda, paranoia and plain lies”.
The extended essay format of the Kindle Single is conducive to a well argued but concise treatment of this complex topic. Ham does a good job of avoiding the perils of hindsight as he treats all of the participants with equality.
Unlike other authors he puts Germany’s ambitions and militarist outlook well into context, balancing them with those of the other European powers. He describes how “a spirit of vengeance permeated French society in 1913”, how Britain persistently feared the rise of Germany and the way that warmongers in Russia believed “the whole nation must accustom itself to the idea that we arm ourselves for a war of annihilation against the Germans”.
He pricks the “belle epoque” as an exaggerated phenomenon, often used to contrast the artistic revolution with the events that followed. Ham argues that “the flowering of artistic and literary genius had little direct influence on the people in power or the man in the street”. Instead governments and more importantly the military leaderships were all assuming war was coming. Their intricate war plans acted as a self fulfilling prophecy. This was bolstered by growing rail networks which made massive industrially powered mobilisations possible.
So war was on the minds of those in power - virtually an assumption. Ham writes that the outbreak of war in 1914 couldn't have been a surprise to anyone in power. Part Two of the book explores how war was “willed”. Ham argues that although obvious factors such as the Anglo German naval race, the Balkan wars, Russia’s growing military strength and Britain's lack of apparent commitment (leading Germany to gamble that she might remain neutral) were important, less tangible factors were “immeasurably influential". He describes an intense anti German feeling in Britain, and conversely a feeling of deliberate and persistent exclusion from influence in Germany. He also highlights the importance of the conflict between Russia’s visions of power in the Balkan and Constantinople with Austrian interests. The Balkan wars were crucial - they “entrenched the powers of Europe and delineated the belligerent and their allies”.
Another factor Ham highlights is the desire for war amongst the young, the future warriors. Fuelled by Social Darwinian beliefs in the importance of a nation being strong, a longing for war was exalted. Politicians played their game dangerously. “Sheer laziness, unintelligence and inability to concentrate were common”.
Ham concludes his book by looking at the governments of Europe at the end of 1913. He convincingly argues that they were expecting, indeed almost willing war. With loaded arsenals and plans for war carefully considered Ham makes a strong argument for the weight of intentions supporting war. In the end the assassination of Franz Ferdinand provided the excuse for Austria to manufacture a small war with Serbia “knowing it risked a Europe-wide catastrophe”.
Ham’s book is a well written synthesis of current scholarship. He convincingly rejects a “sleepwalking” to war thesis, arguing that all parties willingly adopted their plans, antipathy towards each other and acceptance that war was an inevitability and natural element of policy. I look forward to reading [b:1914: The Year the World Ended|18580198|1914 The Year the World Ended|Paul Ham|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1380004649s/18580198.jpg|26315354].

A note on the books formatting: regrettably the publisher did not insert the footnotes as links (i.e the reader needs to go to the end of the book and find the relevant reference number manually. Hopefully this will be rectified in an update. ( )
  bevok | Jul 31, 2017 |
I bought this e-book, not realizing that it was a "Kindle Single" and thinking that it would have something meaningful to say about the origins of World War I. Unfortunately. it pretty much just rehashed what I already knew and relied way too much on Niall Ferguson as a source. I think, in honor of the hundred year anniversary of this tragic war, I should just go re-read Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August This book was a huge disappointment. ( )
  etxgardener | Jun 5, 2014 |
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Christmas 1913: in Britain, people are debating a new dance called 'the tango'. In Germany, they are fascinated by the wedding of the Kaiser's daughter to the Duke of Brunswick. Little did they know that their world was on 'The Eve of War', a catastrophe that was to engulf the continent, cost millions of lives, and change the course of the century. And yet behind the scenes, the Great Powers were marching towards what they thought was an inevitable conflict. In this controversial and concise essay, the military historian Paul Ham argues that the First World War was not an historical mistake, a conflict into which the Great Powers stumbled by accident. Nor was it a justified war, in which uncontained German aggression had to be defeated. Instead the politicians and generals of the day willed the war, and prepared for it - but eventually found themselves caught up in an inferno they could no longer control.

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