Reviews for Catastrophe 1914 : Europe Goes to War


Booklist Reviews 2013 September #2
After writing almost exclusively about WWII, eminent historian Hastings (Inferno) turns his attention to the outbreak of WWI. Chronicling both the prelude to the war and its initial battles, he concentrates on events occurring between June 28, 1914, when Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo, and December 31, 1914, when soldiers on both sides of the conflict languished in trenches. Drawing on accounts generated from rarified diplomatic circles, seasoned military leaders, and ordinary citizens helplessly caught up in the international catastrophe, he examines the origins and the onset of the Great War in minute and vivid detail. Hastings, unlike many contemporary historians, refuses to indulge in any retrospective hand-wringing, concluding rather firmly that Germany and Austria must accept principal blame for the war and that it is an analytical and an ethical mistake to believe that it did not matter which side won. This compelling reexamination of the commencement of the conflict represents an important contribution to the scholarship of the "war to end all wars." Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

----------------------
Choice Reviews 2014 February
Hastings, British historian of numerous books about world war and conflict, has contributed a significant volume to the debate about the entry of Europe into WW I in 1914. He effectively combines three chapters on the development of nations' responsibility arguments with further detail on military battles, civilian suffering, trench warfare, and the status of the eastern and western fronts by the end of 1914. Regarding war responsibility, Hastings differs from Christopher Clark by coming down hard on German and Austro-Hungarian diplomacy and planning post-Sarajevo. He seems more likely to agree with Fritz Fischer that German planning for western front glory via the Schlieffen Plan was more significant than the Russian mobilization that eventually drew France and Britain into the war. Hastings goes further than most historians with his inclusion of letters and diaries of common soldiers and government officials. Hindenburg, Ludendorff, Moltke, and Falkenhayn are shown to be short of the mark in terms of plans versus actions. French, Asquith, Churchill, and others in the British camp suffer. Joffre, with the exception of the Battle of the Marne, is not spared complaint. For diplomatic and military historians of the period. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. General Readers; Lower-division Undergraduates; Upper-division Undergraduates; Graduate Students; Researchers/Faculty; Two-year Technical Program Students; Professionals/Practitioners. A. M. Mayer College of Staten Island Copyright 2014 American Library Association.

----------------------
Kirkus Reviews 2013 August #2
Does the world need another book on that dismal year? Absolutely, if it's by Hastings (Inferno: The World at War, 1939–1945, 2011, etc.). After many accounts of World War II, the veteran military historian tries his hand, with splendid results. Most readers will be familiar with many of the facts. When Austria mobilized to take revenge on Serbia for its role in the June 1914 murder of Archduke Ferdinand, Russia protested. Austria's ally, Germany, warned it to keep its hands off. Russia's response was only mildly threatening, but it wasn't mild enough for the pugnacious German general staff. Deciding war was inevitable, they convinced a dithering kaiser, and the dominoes fell. Who's to blame? Hastings loves Barbara Tuchman's 1962 classic The Guns of August but agrees that her verdict--everything got out of hand; it was no one's fault--is passé. Hastings shows modest respect for the German school, which blames Germany; historian Sean McMeekin, who emphasizes Russia's role; and even Niall Ferguson, who believes that Britain should have remained neutral. He concludes that national leaders (mediocrities all, with a few frank dimwits) focused with paranoid intensity on selfish interests, that stupidity trumped malevolence, and that German paranoia won by a nose. World War I historians deplore the slaughter at the Somme and Verdun, but these pale in comparison to the final months of 1914, when modern weapons mowed down armies who still marched in dense masses led by mounted officers with colors flying and bands playing. Readers accustomed to Hastings' vivid battle descriptions, incisive anecdotes from all participants, and shrewd, often unsettling opinions will not be disappointed. Among the plethora of brilliant accounts of this period, this is one of the best. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

----------------------
Library Journal Reviews 2013 April #2

Winner of the 2012 Pritzker Military Library Literature Award, British author/journalist Hastings here focuses on the opening months of World War I, a time of intense military and political maneuvering as Germany overran Belgium, Britain protested by sending forces to the Continent, and Austria-Hungary squared off against Serbia as the Russian army mobilized. Essential reading as the centenary approaches.

[Page 54]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

----------------------
Library Journal Reviews 2013 October #2

Hastings (Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945) turns his hand to the run-up to and first battles of World War I. A theme throughout is the German and Austro-Hungarian brutality and moral culpability for many of the war's horrors while the Allies' political and military leadership was incompetent. Acknowledging that history has never come to a consensus about blame for the catastrophe, Hastings clearly sympathizes with the Allies and the soldiers and civilians who suffered the terrible decisions of their leaders. The Austrians, in their war against Serbia and Russia, combined the brutality of the Germans with the incompetence of the Allies. Hastings clearly describes the political background to hostilities without getting bogged down in the minutiae of Balkan politics. While he spends a good while describing the Eastern political situation, his battlefield focus lies on the western front. His descriptions of the battles that led to three years of trench warfare emphasize how military expertise did not keep pace with military technology at the turn of the century. VERDICT Hastings makes a very complicated story understandable in a way that few serious history books manage. An ideal entry into World War I history for general readers.--Michael Farrell, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, FL

[Page 110]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

----------------------
Library Journal Reviews Newsletter
Hastings (Inferno: The World at War,1939-1945) turns his hand to the run-up to and first battles of World War I. A theme throughout is the German and Austro-Hungarian brutality and moral culpability for many of the war's hor-rors while the Allies' political and military leadership was incompetent. Acknowledging that his-tory has never come to a consensus about blame for the catastrophe, Hastings clearly sympathizes with the Allies and the soldiers and civilians who suffered the terrible decisions of their leaders. The Austrians, in their war against Serbia and Russia, combined the brutality of the Germans with the incompetence of the Allies. Hastings clearly describes the political background to hostil-ities without getting bogged down in the minutiae of Balkan politics. While he spends a good while describing the Eastern political situation, his battlefield focus lies on the western front. His descriptions of the battles that led to three years of trench warfare emphasize how military exper-tise did not keep pace with military technology at the turn of the century. VERDICT Hastings makes a very complicated story understandable in a way that few serious history books manage. An ideal entry into World War I history for general readers.--Michael Farrell, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, FL (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

----------------------
Library Journal Reviews 2013 November #1

Given the personalities and circumstances (economic, social, intellectual, political, technological) that contributed to the explosion of battle, was war really a surprise? (LJ 10/15/13)

[Page 53]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

----------------------
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 October #1

Hastings's latest invites consideration as the best in his distinguished career, combining a perceptive analysis of the Great War's beginnings with a vivid account of the period from August to September of the titular year. Those were the months when illusions died alongside hundreds of thousands of people. Hastings (Inferno) considers Germany principally responsible for starting the war, asserting that German victory would have meant that "freedom, justice and democracy would have paid a dreadful forfeit." Hastings notes, "Every society experienced successive waves of jubilation and dejection," a condition shared by the generals and the politicians who found war easier to initiate than to resolve. He is particularly successful at reconstructing war-zone fiascoes from the perspectives of those who bore their brunt--the soldiers on the frontlines. On the front lines, "foolish excess of personal bravery" was juxtaposed with questions like, "Won't the murdering soon stop?" While "rape, pillage, and arson" were commonplace, "new technologies created many opportunities and difficulties"--but far more of the latter. The fighting around Ypres, Belgium, in October and November epitomized both the combatants' determination and their "unbounded power to inflict loss and grief upon each other." "There was never a credible shortcut" to the suicide of a civilization. Agent: Peter Matson, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Sept. 25)

[Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC

----------------------
Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews

Hastings's latest invites consideration as the best in his distinguished career, combining a perceptive analysis of the Great War's beginnings with a vivid account of the period from August to September of the titular year. Those were the months when illusions died alongside hundreds of thousands of people. Hastings (Inferno) considers Germany principally responsible for starting the war, asserting that German victory would have meant that "freedom, justice and democracy would have paid a dreadful forfeit." Hastings notes, "Every society experienced successive waves of jubilation and dejection," a condition shared by the generals and the politicians who found war easier to initiate than to resolve. He is particularly successful at reconstructing war-zone fiascoes from the perspectives of those who bore their brunt--the soldiers on the frontlines. On the front lines, "foolish excess of personal bravery" was juxtaposed with questions like, "Won't the murdering soon stop?" While "rape, pillage, and arson" were commonplace, "new technologies created many opportunities and difficulties"--but far more of the latter. The fighting around Ypres, Belgium, in October and November epitomized both the combatants' determination and their "unbounded power to inflict loss and grief upon each other." "There was never a credible shortcut" to the suicide of a civilization. Agent: Peter Matson, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Sept. 25)

[Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC

----------------------