Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The War That Ended Peace: The Road To 1914” as Want to Read:
The War That Ended Peace: The Road To 1914
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The War That Ended Peace: The Road To 1914

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  6,130 ratings  ·  681 reviews
The First World War followed a period of sustained peace in Europe during which people talked with confidence of prosperity, progress, and hope. But in 1914, Europe walked into a catastrophic conflict that killed millions, bled its economies dry, shook empires and societies to pieces, and fatally undermined Europe’s dominance of the world. It was a war that could have been ...more
Paperback, 739 pages
Published 2013 by Penguin
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The War That Ended Peace, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Keith While I accept that the term 'conservative' is not to everybody's liking, it does for the most part describe well the politics of the time (especially…moreWhile I accept that the term 'conservative' is not to everybody's liking, it does for the most part describe well the politics of the time (especially in the UK where there was and still is a Conservative party).

With regards to George Bush and US Congress, I did not feel there was much opinion attached to any example used. Instead I felt that she was using the available facts to bring a modern comparison to the events leading up to 1914.

I would be interested to know if you think there is a difference in viewpoint regarding the causes of the First World War between left and right leaning readers?(less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.22  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,130 ratings  ·  681 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The War That Ended Peace: The Road To 1914
Oct 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, world-war-i
Lately, those around me have discovered something disconcerting: my attempts to shift all conversation to the topic of the First World War. I can’t help it; I’m obsessed. At dinner, if my wife asks me about my day, I reply: “Better than the English on the first day of the Somme.” When my little daughter says, “Dada, milk,” I tell her she’s as helpless as an Austro-Hungarian field marshal. At the bar, when others try to talk about the National Football League, I’m busy trying to kick-start an exc ...more
Nov 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I want to kick myself for not being able to attend when Margaret Macmillan visited Madrid recently to present her book.

She is the great grand daughter of David Lloyd George (1863-1945), the British politician from the Liberal party who was Chancellor of the Exchequer when WW1 broke out but became Prime Minister during the contention.

But it is not thanks to her kinship but to her own academic acumen that she is the current Warden at Saint Antony’s College, a think tank for historians. For me this
Dec 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Margaret Macmillan is a Canadian historian who is teaching at Oxford University. She is the great-granddaughter of David Lloyd George, Britain’s wartime Prime Minister. I recently read Max Hastings “Catastrophe 1914”. He and Macmillan are covering the same nine months leading up to the war. Hasting covered the role of general staff of rival governments showing a step by step documentation leading up to war. MacMillan on the other hand covers the diplomats and politicians showing step by step how ...more
Margaret MacMillian’s The War That Ended Peace: The Road To 1914 could not be better. I have to confess that when I opened the first page I was practically ignorant as to what caused the Great War. I only remember from high school that the war and specifically that the invasion by Belgium by Germany was the result of the assassination of an Austrian archduke, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, by a Serbian assassin. I did not know all the personalities involved, or the intricacies of the a ...more
Oct 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the days following July 24, 1914, every domino fell in just the right way so that war became the only possible outcome. Margaret MacMillan's great success is outlining how that all developed over the preceding years throughout Europe and the European nations' worldwide interests. As MacMillan states at the end of this brilliant work:

We must remember, as the decision-makers did, what had
happened before that last crisis of 1914 and what they had
learned from the Moroccan crises, the Bosnian o
May 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-ww-i
I found this volume to be an excellent look at the 25 yrs or so leading up to the Great War and how Europe drifted into war. Professor MacMillan looks at each of the five main powers in Europe and how events and the personalities of the major people in those countries affected the steps that lead to war.

As the author looks at each of the major powers in Europe, she traces the developments that led the alliances and from there to war. She looks the pressures each country was under and how they af
Feb 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwi
The War That Ended Peace, written by Margaret MacMillan and published in 2013, is one of several recent history books exploring the causes of World War I. Impeccably researched, this seven hundred page tome of twenty-two chapters also includes an exhaustive bibliography and a well-placed set of supporting photographs. It is almost exclusively focused on the European powers so is not as world inclusive as some of the other scholarship on pre WWI. Given that there are few wasted words in this leng ...more
Michael Perkins
Nov 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“History doesn’t repeat itself, but human nature remains the same.”

― Ken Burns

In this sense, history always has something to teach us.

For starters, social darwinism was the ideology behind the foolish thirst for war, as covered in this other book.


“Woe to the Country That Has a Child for King!” (Ecclesiastes 10:16)

The author, a British historian, begins with the UK perspective. But the big character of this book is Kaiser Wilhelm II, a very Trump-lik
Clif Hostetler
Nov 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This book describes the complex mosaic of history, politics, personalities, relationships, institutions, and ideas that developed and interacted with each other through the 19th century and into the 20th century that then lead to a set of circumstances in Europe that caused the nation’s leaders to see no alternative to war. Thus World War began 100 years ago in 1914.

The book contains parallel histories of the various European countries and tries to provide an understanding of those individuals
Very good and recommended to the beginner. Readers be aware though. It is long and can be complex. With that in mind the author is to be congratulated for making the complexity of the subject such an easy read. A book of it times as the comparisons to recent events in history books I tend to judge harshly but they tend to work in this case.
The bibliography of the origins of WWI, much like its subject, is vast beyond comprehension. Therefor I was not expecting much of the centenial literary avalanche. Margaret MacMillan was a forerunner and felt overhyped, in spite of her laudable credentials*. I'm pleasantly surprised to see the book live up to the fanfare.

The story in itself is familiar, with the Anglo-German race as its starting point. It's spiced up with the usual array of anecdotes pulled from memoirs & diaries, some often us
Jun 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
WWI is just fascinating. I've been trying to learn more about this period as I see it as a grand operatic tragedy, full of lessons, parallels, and warnings for us contemporary folk. I tend to have a bit more knowledge of the War itself than the events preceding, so this was a very useful and informative read for me.

First off, I think this book is excellent. It is very readable, well-written, and actually quite exhaustive. Lord only knows how much research went into this thing, the depth and brea
This book was a little much for me. I found it interesting but tedious. It is overflowing with information and sometimes I think that it could have been organized a little better. At times, I felt like I was sucked into a black hole of minutia about every facet and every aspect of the political landscape of the entire continent of Europe several years prior to the outbreak of WWI. There is a lot of great information here but you had better really be committed reader to get through all of this. I ...more
Bevan Lewis
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The period before World War 1 seems to come into season roughly every generation. A new crop of historians begin to plough the rich field of controversy, blame and nostalgia in search of new insights, or at least to fulfill the insatiable appetite of a new generation of readers. The appeal lies in a number of factors - the complex interaction of events, motives and personalities bears all the fascination of the most gripping of true crimes. Like the Jack the Ripper case, the books and documentar ...more

It's taken me an extraordinarily long time to listen to this audiobook. This was mostly because the edition I acquired from didn't download properly, stopped playing about twenty one chapters in and I then listened to another book before going back to fix the problem.

In any event, I've now finished listening to all 31 hours and 34 minutes of the book and I've come to a conclusion. Much as I love listening to audiobooks, I'll think twice before listening to rather than reading any mo
Connie G
Margaret MacMillan begins her book about the events leading up to World War I with the Paris Exposition of 1900. It celebrated the best in arts, sciences, and technology around the world. But new technology also fueled an arms race, especially between naval powers, and created weapons that led to an enormous loss of life in the Great War.

The major players in the world events are brought to life with interesting quotes, pictures, and cartoons from the era. The book discusses how the creation of a
Apr 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. This book is easily the second to best account I've read of the events immediately preceding the Great War. Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August still holds the top spot in my own humble opinion. But back to MacMillan's masterwork; the book's main message is that people in this world have choices, and those choices have consequences. If several world leaders had tried diplomacy, the Great War may have never been fought. Or it may at least have been delayed. This book gets a prominent nod fr ...more
Jan 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I didn't go into The War that Ended Peace blind. I've learned about the alliances, and some of pre-war crises, heads of state, and circumstances in the countries involved in the Great War. But I wanted something much more detailed. At 645 pages of text, Margaret MacMillan's look into the causes of the First World War provides all the context a reader could want.

We begin with a fairly general introduction, which MacMillan concludes by writing: "Most of the copious literature on the events of 1914
Nick Lloyd
Next month marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I - the second-most destructive conflict in the history of Western Civilization - and famed historian and Oxford professor Margaret MacMillan’s latest work attempts to shed new light on the often debated and seldom agreed upon questions of why such a blight on the record of human existence could have taken place. Following her previous book, Paris: 1919, which focuses on the peace settlement at war’s end, The War That Ended Pea ...more
Stefania Dzhanamova
Mar 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwi
Margaret MacMillan’s book examines the first fourteen years of the 20th century and finishes with the German invasion of Belgium. What makes “The War that Ended Peace” different is the author’s approach.
It is easy to pronounce the Great War inevitable due to the complex set of reasons that started it. However, MacMillan argues that none of the individuals, of the key leaders that had the power to say “yes” or “no” were great or imaginative enough to avoid conflict. Briefly and with a glimpse of
Dec 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this on a trip, and it's a good overview of how the cataclysm of WW1 came to be. One of the interesting points made by the author is that the destruction and economic collapse in Germany and Russia which were caused by WW1 really created the opportunity for the US to become a world power. History might have run differently in that regard if Europe had not been so damaged, economically and in human terms by the war. Sometime I need to find a good overview of cultural and artistic change en ...more
This is a very long book, and it’s very academic and therefore pretty dry. It reads like a dissertation, and I constantly zoned out listening to this. It goes through every country involved in WWI, gives a life sketch of every major national/military leader, and how they responded to the other countries. It’s good information—given in great detail—but hard to stay interested in.

It’s written by a British academic, so when she started taking digs at post-WWII America, my reaction was first,

and sec
Oct 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was certain that I had written a review of this book when I read it. No trace of one here now.

Just to say that I am a big fan of MacMillan's. As in Paris, 1919, in The War That Ended Peace, she uses detailed information of the individuals involved to build an overall picture of the years, months and, specifically, days leading up to the event. She is not looking to assign blame on any one person or country. She is presenting a panorama of how the players, generally through their own hubris, s
Sep 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
As the centennial year of the commencement of the Great War has arrived, MacMillan returns to offer the other book-end in her Great War history tomes. While she's already examined the fallout of World War I, now she looks to decipher what brought it about and how peace dissolved. Using a plethora of documents, back stories, and her flair for the historical narrative, MacMillan tells a tale that entertains as well as educates the curious reader. MacMillan reminds the reader of the blood ties of t ...more
Steven Langdon
I approached this mammoth volume, by an admirable Canadian historian (with ties to my old college,) full of enthusiastic anticipation. There are far too many varnished centennial ceremonies marking the start of World War One these days, when the stupidity and extremity of the war's slaughter should be the focus, and I looked for a caustic and probing analysis of how such a meaningless disaster could have happened.

After 645 pages of text and another 70 pages of notes and bibliography, I certainly
Steven Peterson
Dec 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author has written a book exploring the aftermath of World War 1, "1919." Here, she examines events leading to the outbreak of that same war.

She outlines, year by year, developments leading up to worldwide conflict. She tries to answer the question (Page xxv): "How could Europe have done this to itself and the world?" She observes that this is a war that did not have to happen; major powers may well have been able to call the conflict off up until August 4th of 1914 when Great Britain decide
From BBC Radio 4: 1914 Day by Day:
Margaret Macmillan chronicles the events leading up to the First World War. Each episode draws together newspaper accounts, diplomatic correspondence and private journals from the same day exactly one hundred years ago, giving a picture of the world in 1914 as it was experienced at the time.

The series tracks the development of the European crisis day by day, from the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand through to the first week of the conflict. As well as
Jerome Otte
May 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My first book by MacMillan, and it turned out to be a great read. The history of the First World War has always fascinated and confused me at the same time, and MacMillan has delivered a fine tome to help us understand it all.

MacMillan begins her work with a look at the belligerents at the turn of the century as they devised the alliances and nursed the grievances that bring them war. She gives us portraits of the leaders and thinkers who would be confronted with decision in 1914, although the
I'm kind of tempted to add this to my 'too-stupid-to-live' shelf, though that's actually intended for poorly constructed fictional characters. You can't spend 600-odd pages with the powers of pre-World War I Europe without feeling that you've fallen down a rabbit hole of stupidity, populated by armies of Tweedle Dums and Tweedle Dees. MacMillan does a good job of interweaving all the various crises, treaties, alliances, and threats, and if the fact that the war happened still doesn't make sense, ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
First World War 6 50 Jan 14, 2015 10:36PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914
  • The First World War
  • Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War
  • A Gracious Enemy & After the War Volume One
  • A Gracious Enemy & After the War Volume Two
  • The Coming of the Third Reich (The History of the Third Reich, #1)
  • A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, 1914 to 1918
  • The Third Reich at War (The History of the Third Reich, #3)
  • Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq
  • To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918
  • The Guns of August
  • Napoleon: The Man behind the Myth
  • The Great War and Modern Memory
  • The Third Reich in Power (The History of the Third Reich, #2)
  • The Pity of War: Explaining World War I
  • The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890-1914
  • The First World War: A Complete History
  • The Rising Sun: The Decline & Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-45
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Margaret Olwen MacMillan OC D.Phil. (born 1943) is a historian and professor at Oxford University where she is Warden of St. Antony's College. She is former provost of Trinity College and professor of history at the University of Toronto. A well-respected expert on history and current affairs, MacMillan is a frequent commentator in the media.



News & Interviews

As the final days of the year tick themselves off the calendar, the 2022 Goodreads Reading Challenge is coming to a close. Sincere...
76 likes · 42 comments
“They should have remembered that famous saying of Bismarck: “Preventive war is like committing suicide out of fear of death.” 18 likes
“What may seem like a reasonable way of protecting oneself can look very different from the other side of the border.” 14 likes
More quotes…