Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Six Recommended Books About the World on the Eve of War

From the Editors

  1. Tuchman, Barbara, The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War, Ballantine Books, 1996.
  2. Chace, James, 1912: Wilson, Roosevelt, Taft, and Debs—The Election That Changed the Country, Simon & Schuster, 2005.
  3. Vandervort Bruce, Wars of Imperial  Conquest in Africa, 1830–1914, Indiana University Press, 1998.
  4. Wolfe, Bertram D., Three Who Made a Revolution: A Biographical History of Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin, Cooper Square Press, 2001. 
  5. Morton, Frederic,  Thunder at Twilight: Vienna 1913/1914, Da Capo Press, 2014 (2nd edition).
  6. Neiberg, Michael S., Dance of the Furies: Europe and the Outbreak of World War I, Belknap Press of Harvard University, 2011.

These Are All Available at

Originally presented in the Fall 2012 issue of The Journal of the World War One Historical Society


  1. I'd recommend this one.

  2. If CJ August’s recommendation is Charles Emerson’s In Search of the World Before the Great War, I heartily second the motion. The author travels around the world devoting each chapter to the events of a different city. You get a clearer picture of that year than anything else I’ve ever read.

    I think The Guns of August is very outdated and not very trustworthy. There are other, better works out there such as The Sleepwalkers by Christopher Clark and The War that Ended Peace by Margaret MacMillan

    1. I still enjoyed Guns of August, but it does surprise me how beloved it is. I actually thought her book on the Zimmermann Telegram was better (though far less read).

    2. Agreed on The Sleepwalkers and The War that Ended Peace.

  3. I would also recommend a video. Episode One "1900-Age of Hope" of The PBS series "People's Century." Available on YouTube here:

  4. "Dance of the furies" is superb! Highly recommended!

  5. Yes to both Clark and Macmillan. Also ''1913 The Year before the Storm' by Florian Illies; a daily / monthly 'notebook' type of events during that year.