The Month That Changed the World: July 1914

Gordon Martel. Oxford Univ, $39.95 (512p) ISBN 978-0-19-966538-9
Few will accuse Martel of hyperbole—the events leading up to WWI certainly changed world history dramatically—and in this fascinating and accessible account, the editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia of War clearly details the day-by-day developments, from the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo to England’s declaration of war. Martel brings to life the rulers and diplomats whose personalities (including an Austrian leader who “dreamed that a great success in war” would make it easier for him to marry his mistress) and choices led to the death of over nine million people—and to the wounding of over 30 million more—as well as “the collapse of empires” and the unleashing of “the revolutionary forces of communism and fascism.” In a brilliantly reasoned concluding section, Martel explores why the war happened, including the numerous theories that have been espoused. Factors such as “alliances, mass conscript armies, huge navies, unprecedented armaments,” and national discontent had existed for the decades, including the almost half-century of peace that preceded the war. Martel’s conclusion that no “neat explanation” exists is hard to argue with. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/21/2014
Release date: 07/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 512 pages - 978-0-19-966539-6
Open Ebook - 511 pages - 978-0-19-164327-9
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