Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War by Max Hastings
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Archduke Franz Ferdinand was never a well-liked person, but his assassination (one of many in that day) became a convenient excuse for Kaiser Wilhelm’s war machine to flex its muscle. Hastings details the deliberate machinations of how the Austro-Hungarians are convinced by the Germans that now is the time to regain land they both had lost in previous conflicts. The auspicious start of the war sees outdated tactics such as cavalry charges and drum corps against machine guns, virtually non-existent coordination of forces on both sides, and the Germans’ official sanctioning of killing civilians and burning villages in their wake. This is not the slow trench warfare usually associated with the first world war, but its exceedingly deadly and destructive precursor. Catastrophe 1914 demonstrates how the self-delusional reasoning behind a war for economic gain can change the world forever.
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