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  • Published: 21 November 2012
  • ISBN: 9780718192952
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 736
Categories:

The Sleepwalkers

How Europe Went to War in 1914




A provocative new account of how Europe destroyed itself

The moments that it took Gavrilo Princip to step forward to the stalled car and shoot dead Franz Ferdinand and his wife were perhaps the most fateful of the modern era. An act of terrorism of staggering efficiency, it fulfilled its every aim: it would liberate Bosnia from Habsburg rule and it created a powerful new Serbia, but it also brought down four great empires, killed millions of men and destroyed a civilization. What made a seemingly prosperous and complacent Europe so vulnerable to the impact of this assassination? In The Sleepwalkers Christopher Clark retells the story of the outbreak of the First World War and its causes. Drawing on many new sources, this account puts Serbia and the Balkans at the centre of the story. Starting with the assassination of Alexander I of Serbia in 1903, Clark shows how, far from being the place of stability it appears to us, Europe was a multipolar and fractured world of clashing ideals, terrorism, militancy and instability, saddled with a conspicuously ineffectual set of political leaders. He shows how the rulers of Europe, who prided themselves on their modernity and rationalism, behaved like sleepwalkers, stumbling through crisis after crisis and finally convincing themselves that war was the only answer. The Sleepwalkers re-imagines the First World War to make it feel raw and modern. Above all, it shows how the failure to understand the seriousness of the chaotic, near genocidal fighting in the Balkans would drag Europe into catastrophe.

  • Published: 21 November 2012
  • ISBN: 9780718192952
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 736
Categories:

About the author

Christopher Clark

Christopher Clark is a lecturer in Modern European History at St Catharine's College, University of Cambridge. His previous book was a biography of Kaiser Wilhelm II. His latest book is Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947 (Penguin, 2007).

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Praise for The Sleepwalkers

Formidable ... one of the most impressive and stimulating studies of the period ever published

Max Hastings, Sunday Times

Easily the best book ever written on the subject ... A work of rare beauty that combines meticulous research with sensitive analysis and elegant prose. The enormous weight of its quality inspires amazement and awe ... Academics should take note: Good history can still be a good story

Washington Post

A lovingly researched work of the highest scholarship. It is hard to believe we will ever see a better narrative of what was perhaps the biggest collective blunder in the history of international relations

Niall Ferguson

[Reading The Sleepwalkers], it is as if a light had been turned on a half-darkened stage of shadowy characters cursing among themselves without reason ... [Clark] demolishes the standard view ... The brilliance of Clark's far-reaching history is that we are able to discern how the past was genuinely prologue ... In conception, steely scholarship and piercing insights, his book is a masterpiece

Harold Evans, New York Times Book Review

Impeccably researched, provocatively argued and elegantly written ... a model of scholarship

Sunday Times Books of the Year

Superb ... effectively consigns the old historical consensus to the bin ... It's not often that one has the privilege of reading a book that reforges our understanding of one of the seminal events of world history

Mail Online

A monumental new volume ... Revelatory, even revolutionary ... Clark has done a masterful job explaining the inexplicable

Boston Globe

Superb ... One of the great mysteries of history is how Europe's great powers could have stumbled into World War I ... This is the single best book I have read on this important topic

Fareed Zakaria

A meticulously researched, superbly organized, and handsomely written account

Military History

Clark is a masterly historian ... His account vividly reconstructs key decision points while deftly sketching the context driving them ... A magisterial work

Wall Street Journal

This compelling examination of the causes of World War I deserves to become the new standard one-volume account of that contentious subject

Foreign Affairs

A brilliant contribution

Times Higher Education

Clark is fully alive to the challenges of the subject ... He provides vivid portraits of leading figures ... [He] also gives a rich sense of what contemporaries believed was at stake in the crises leading up to the war

Irish Times

In recent decades, many analysts had tended to put most blame for the disaster [of the First World War] on Germany. Clark strongly renews an older interpretation which sees the statesmen of many countries as blundering blindly together into war

Stephen Howe, Independent BOOKS OF THE YEAR

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