Thirteen Days: The Road to the First World War

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Chatto & Windus, 2002 - History - 378 pages
At the end of the First World War, Germany was demonized. The Treaty of Versailles contained a "war guilt" clause pinning the blame on the aggression of Germany and accusing her of supreme offence against international morality. THIRTEEN DAYS rejects this thesis. Clive Ponting has made a thorough study of the incredibly complex international diplomatic documents. His interpretation rejects also the thesis that Europe in 1914 had reached such a boiling it was bound to erupt or that the origins of the war lay in a mighty arms race. Instead, he argues that the war occured because of the situation in the Balkans, while he give full weight to Austrial Hungary's desire to cripple Serbia instead of negotiating and to Russia's mulitaristic programme of expansion. Clive Ponting begins with a dramatic recreation of the assassination in Sarajevo (he agrees that this was the starting point). He then examines what happened in the 13 days that led to war. His story criss-crosses Europe city by city - Belgrade, Paris, London, Budapest, St Petersburg, Vienna, Rome etc - and describes developments day by day, latterly indeed hour by hour, as the tension builds.

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