The War That Ended Peace

The Road to 1914

MacMillan, Margaret

Book - 2013
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The War That Ended Peace
From the bestselling and award-winning author of Paris 1919 comes a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction, a fascinating portrait of Europe from 1900 up to the outbreak of World War I. The century since the end of the Napoleonic wars had been the most peaceful era Europe had known since the fall of the Roman Empire. In the first years of the twentieth century, Europe believed it was marching to a golden, happy, and prosperous future. But instead, complex personalities and rivalries, colonialism and ethnic nationalisms, and shifting alliances helped to bring about the failure of the long peace and the outbreak of a war that transformed Europe and the world. The War That Ended Peace brings vividly to life the military leaders, politicians, diplomats, bankers, and the extended, interrelated family of crowned heads across Europe who failed to stop the descent into war: in Germany, the mercurial Kaiser Wilhelm II and the chief of the German general staff, Von Moltke the Younger; in Austria-Hungary, Emperor Franz Joseph, a man who tried, through sheer hard work, to stave off the coming chaos in his empire; in Russia, Tsar Nicholas II and his wife; in Britain, King Edward VII, Prime Minister Herbert Asquith, and British admiral Jacky Fisher, the fierce advocate of naval reform who entered into the arms race with Germany that pushed the continent toward confrontation on land and sea. There are the would-be peacemakers as well, among them prophets of the horrors of future wars whose warnings went unheeded: Alfred Nobel, who donated his fortune to the cause of international understanding, and Bertha von Suttner, a writer and activist who was the first woman awarded Nobel's new Peace Prize. Here too we meet the urbane and cosmopolitan Count Harry Kessler, who noticed many of the early signs that something was stirring in Europe; the young Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty and a rising figure in British politics; Madame Caillaux, who shot a man who might have been a force for peace; and more. With indelible portraits, MacMillan shows how the fateful decisions of a few powerful people changed the course of history. Taut, suspenseful, and impossible to put down, The War That Ended Peace is also a wise cautionary reminder of how wars happen in spite of the near-universal desire to keep the peace. Destined to become a classic in the tradition of Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August, The War That Ended Peace enriches our understanding of one of the defining periods and events of the twentieth century. - Publisher. This work presents a narrative portrait of Europe in the years leading up to World War I that illuminates the political, cultural, and economic factors and contributing personalities that shaped major events.

Publisher: New York :, Random House,, 2013.
Edition: First U.S. Edition.
ISBN: 140006855X
Characteristics: xxxv, 739 pages :,illustrations, maps ;,25 cm.


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Feb 05, 2015
  • dirtbag1 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Yet another important work by Margaret Macmillan. Full of detail and information about the the powerful actors who failed a generation of young people. The only slight criticism is that Macmillain tends to jump around with dates and names making it at times slow reading. Overall though an enjoyable read. At the end of the day we witness a catastrophe unfold where, once again, none of the rich and greedy that benefited handsomely are held accountable.

Sep 04, 2014
  • JacquieM rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

As usual, Margared MacMillan writes well for the intelligent layperson. The text could have used more editing, but is, as others have noted, insightful and rich in detail.

Sep 01, 2014

This book is an excellent place to start explorations of World War 1. MacMillan is an engaging (and often humorous) storyteller who makes historical characters and intrigues come alive. The asides about Canada are very funny. The extensive index and maps are clear and helpful.

Aug 11, 2014
  • rpavlacic rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

This book sheds a lot of light on what led to the "War to End All Wars." Much insight provided, including the problematic personal union between Austria and Hungary, the clueless nature of the Romanovs, and the arms race between Britain and Germany that presaged the battles of today. A heavy read but a worthwhile one.

May 06, 2014
  • MGallagher rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Wonderful book, very readable. This period is so interesting in that it leads to this horrific war and Ms. MacMillan describes the causes so well. A must read.

Apr 17, 2014
  • gloryb rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This book is the result of much research and background reading. The author writes with much authority on the subject. Yet the book is very readable. The author gives the political and military thinking of the European statesmen towards their neighboring countries from the late 18thC to 1914 in order to show the road to WWI. She reviews the perceptions and attitudes of the public towards neighboring countries which may also have influenced actions at the home office. She includes the economy of the countries booming with industrialization and new technologies. Throughout, she keeps pointing out the past mistrusts of each country, past alliances, and past history. She is excellent in drawing verbal pictures of the Kaiser by giving details of his encounters with other leaders and his staff. These show his personality and how he possibly came to be blamed for the war. Some of the chapters are devoted to the events in one country while others include events that drew several countries into making alliances. She even has a chapter about the people who were prominent in their anti-war efforts and the European peace conferences that were already being held prior to WWI. Surely, the author leaves no stone unturned as she examines the road to war and the detours from a possibly peaceful co-existence. The inclusion of pertinent cartoons from the papers of that time period add interest as do the maps and photos of the people she is describing.


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Aug 11, 2014
  • rpavlacic rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

rpavlacic thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

Jun 06, 2014
  • RickUWS rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

RickUWS thinks this title is suitable for 25 years and over


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