The Decline of Bismarck's European Order: Franco-Russian Relations 1875-1890

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Princeton University Press, Sep 1, 2020 - History - 480 pages
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In an attempt to discover some of the underlying origins of World War I, the eminent diplomat and writer George Kennan focuses on a small sector of offstage events to show how they affected the drama at large long before the war even began. In the introduction to his book George Kennan tells us, "I came to see World War I . . . as the great seminal catastrophe of this century--the event which . . . lay at the heart of the failure and decline of this Western civilization." But, he asks, who could help being struck by the contrast between this apocalyptic result and the "delirious euphoria" of the crowds on the streets of Europe at the outbreak of war in 1914! "Were we not," he suggests, "in the face of some monstrous miscalculation--some pervasive failure to read correctly the outward indicators of one's own situation?" It is from this perspective that Mr. Kennan launches a "micro-history" of the Franco-Russian relationship as far back as the 1870s in an effort to determine the motives that led people "to wander so blindly" into the horrors of the First World War.


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The Approach 3
The Strange Events of 1875 11
The Background
Russian Opinion and the War with Turkey 27
FrancoRussian Relations 18791880 40
New TsarNew Alliance 60
A Bit About Personalities 83
The Reinsurance Treaty Giers vs Katkov
France in the Spectrum of Russian Finance 223
Bismarcks Anxieties 239
The Tsars Crisis of Decision 250
France and the RussoGerman Crisis 266
Russian Winter 1887 289
The Crisis Survived 309
The Aftermath of the Reinsurance Treaty 331

The Bulgarian Gāchis
Complications in Bulgaria 103
The Unification of Bulgaria 120
The Aftermath of Unification 138
The Estrangement of 1886 155
Katkovs Attack 170
The End of Battenberg 186
The Break Repaired 203
The Ferdinand Documents 347
The Deteriorating ThreeEmperor Relationship 362
Financial and Military Stirrings 379
Conclusions 411

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About the author (2020)

George F. Kennan (1904 -2005) was the U.S. Ambassador to Russia and Yugoslavia, and professor emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. He is the author of many books, including Soviet-American Relations, 1917-1920 (two volumes) and From Plague After Munich: Diplomatic Papers, 1938-1940 (both from Princeton).

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