Europe's Last Summer
by David Fromkin
Reprint of Knopf 2004 Editon
Fromkin is one in a long series of authors who attempts to explain the origins of the Great War, but he actually succeeds, mainly by benefitting from recent document discoveries, the work of other authors, and by discarding conventional thinking in providing a credible thesis. He begins in his prologue by listing 12 conflicts — ethnic, religious, military, political — that could have contributed to the beginning of the war. These include 1) the 7th-century occupation of the Balkans by Slavs, 2) the Kaiser's firing of Bismarck, which changed alliances between Germany, Austria, and Russia 3) Serbia's murder of their pro-Austrian king and queen leading Austria to plan Serbia's punishment, and 4) German aggressiveness pushing Britain and France closer together.
After the Archduke's assassination, many nations were slow to realize where events were leading. Austria and Germany hid their intentions, not only in 1914, until the fighting began, but also later as part of the numerous countries that destroyed records to hide the truth forever.
Diplomacy did not fail because it never had a chance as the antagonists wanted to go to war and moved directly toward that objective. Yet, when Austria finally began their war of punishment, they were the ones taken to the woodshed: by 1915 Austria had suffered 1,268,000 casualties out of 3,350,000 mobilized — 38 percent with almost four years of war left. Oh, the ancient curse, beware of what you wish for. . .
|Happy Austrian Troops Departing for the Front with Defeat Awaiting Them|