The History Book Club discussion

60 views
THE FIRST WORLD WAR > 2. THE FIRST WORLD WAR ~ CHAPTER 3 (48 - 70) (03/01/10 - 03/07/10) ~ No spoilers, please

Comments Showing 1-43 of 43 (43 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Feb 28, 2010 01:00PM) (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
Hello Everyone,

This begins the second week's reading in our Spotlighted group discussion of The First World War by John Keegan

The complete table of contents is as follows:

List of Maps ix
List of Illustrations xi
Acknowledgments xv

ONE: A European Tragedy p.3
TWO: War Plans p.24
THREE: The Crisis of 1914 p.48
FOUR: The Battle of the Frontiers and the Marne p.71
FIVE: Victory and Defeat in the East p.138
SIX: Stalemate p.175
SEVEN: The War Beyond the Western Front p.204
EIGHT: The Year of Battles p. 257
NINE: The Breaking of Armies p. 309
TEN: America and Armageddon p. 372

Notes: p. 429
Bibliography p. 449
Index p. 457


The assignment for this week includes the following segments/pages:

Week Two - March 1st - March 7th -> Chapter THREE p. 48 - 70
THREE - The Crisis of 1914


We look forward to your participation; but remember this is a non spoiler thread.

We will open up threads for each week's reading. Please make sure to post in the particular thread dedicated to those specific chapters and page numbers to avoid spoilers.

This book was kicked off on February 21st. This will be the second week's assignment for this book.

We look forward to your participation. Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other noted on line booksellers do have copies of the book and shipment can be expedited. The book can also be obtained easily at your local library.

A special welcome to those who will be newcomers to this discussion and thank you to those who have actively contributed on the previous Spotlighted book selection. We are glad to have you all.

This thread officially begins tomorrow March 1st.


Welcome,

~Bentley

TO ALWAYS SEE ALL WEEKS' THREADS SELECT VIEW ALL

The First World War by John Keegan John Keegan


message 2: by Patricrk (new)

Patricrk patrick | 435 comments I'm also reading "The Marne" The Marne, 1914 The Opening of World War I and the Battle That Changed the World by Holger H. Herwig by Holger H. Herwig. Thanks Aussie Rick! Hopefully I won't get them too badly mixed up.

It seems to me that Conrad wanted war to prevent change to AH while the emperor did not want war because it would create too much change.

It all seems to revolve around the Tsar decision to indicate strong support for Serbia. If that signal hadn't come Serbia would have accepted the note and the war could have been "postponed?" .Why did he do that? I don't see anything in Keegan that answers that question.


message 3: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments This chapter was very interesting for me. I'd always thought that after the assassination the war started because countries like Germany and Russia used the assassination as an excuse to expand their territory. Yet in this chapter, Keegan seems to say that no one wanted the war, they all just wanted to be well-prepared for when the other guy attacked. Is Keegan 100% right on his interpretation?


message 4: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Patricrk wrote: "...It all seems to revolve around the Tsar decision to indicate strong support for Serbia. If that signal hadn't come Serbia would have accepted the note and the war could have been "postponed?" .Why did he do that? I don't see anything in Keegan that answers that question."

I think I missed that, too. The only thing I remember was a comment that "the mood there [in Russia:] was fiercely pro-Serbian" (page 57). And that doesn't adequately describe, in my opinion, the reason for such a pivotal event.


message 5: by Harvey (new)

Harvey | 284 comments Elizabeth S wrote: "This chapter was very interesting for me. I'd always thought that after the assassination the war started because countries like Germany and Russia used the assassination as an excuse to expand th..."

I don't know. My feeling is that many powers had geared themselves up for war; though not realising the consequences. I believe it was an era when war war was more powerful a force than jaw jaw.


message 6: by Kim (new)

Kim  Scripture | 15 comments Elizabeth S wrote: "This chapter was very interesting for me. I'd always thought that after the assassination the war started because countries like Germany and Russia used the assassination as an excuse to expand th..."

That's how I remember learning it back in school and the perspective I've carried for a while - specifically, the German desire to expand. I found myself wondering as I read this chapter if perhaps it simply depends on which component of Germany's leadership you analyze; in other words, the Kaiser may not have thought war was a good idea for expanding German territories but the military and other political leadership in the country did, and simply took advantage of the Kaiser's rather careless attitude and pushed their own agenda.

Keegan's discussion on p. 64 regarding Moltke, the Chief of Germany's Great General Staff is what got me thinking along those lines.


message 7: by Patricrk (new)

Patricrk patrick | 435 comments Kim wrote: "Elizabeth S wrote: "This chapter was very interesting for me. I'd always thought that after the assassination the war started because countries like Germany and Russia used the assassination as an..."

Harvey wrote: "Elizabeth S wrote: "This chapter was very interesting for me. I'd always thought that after the assassination the war started because countries like Germany and Russia used the assassination as an..." I think jaw jaw was very important in causing the war. Look at the Spanish American War and how the newspapers contributed to the start of the war. In this case it seems the key decision makers had to be talked into this war. It also seems that Germany went into this war with no clear war aims. Support Austria doesn't seem like a very good goal.


message 8: by Virginia (new)

Virginia (va-BBoomer) | 210 comments This is all unfamiliar, or long not-pursued territory for me. I had forgoten about the Serbia involvement, etc. So I'm sorting out big-time here what is now a big confusing.


message 9: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
Yes, the Serbian involvement was huge Virginia.


message 10: by Virginia (new)

Virginia (va-BBoomer) | 210 comments I'm collecting from your material thread, so that will definitely help. I remembered about the assassination but had forgotten where exactly it was, etc. As I said, I realize I haven't looked at WW1 for many years.


message 11: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
This is the first time that I am looking at it in depth so you are not alone. I am glad that some of the urls, etc. are helping.


message 12: by Jan (new)

Jan (janverschoor) Patricrk wrote: "...It all seems to revolve around the Tsar decision to indicate strong support for Serbia. If that signal hadn't come Serbia would have accepted the note and the war could have been "postponed?" .Why did he do that?"

The debate about who was guilty of the outbreak of the Great War started right after 1918 en never stopped. About every country which was involved has been accused, often with good arguments.
In reality it is safe to say that every country was guilty or perhaps better: the leaders of every country were guilty. After years of tension between the great(and not so great)powers- in other words the real causes of the war- many people thougt that war was not only inevitable but useful. It would 'purify', show what European 'race'(words of these times) was the strongest one. Besides, its was thought that a war would not last long ('home before Christmas',like a 'normal' 19th century war.
A discussion about who did what and what went wrong is always a nice pastime but in this case not very useful. In my view the European countries which started the First World War were all guilty.





Patricrk wrote: "I'm also reading "The Marne" The Marne, 1914 The Opening of World War I and the Battle That Changed the World by Holger H. Herwig by Holger H. Herwig. Thanks Aussie Rick! Hopefu..."

Bentley wrote: "Hello Everyone,

This begins the second week's reading in our Spotlighted group discussion of The First World War by John Keegan

The complete table of contents is as follows:

List of Maps ix
List..."



message 13: by Patricrk (new)

Patricrk patrick | 435 comments Jan wrote: "A discussion about who did what and what went wrong is always a nice pastime but in this case not very useful. In my view the European countries which started the First World War were all guilty. " I don't have any disagreement on what you wrote before these sentences. Keegan may have been writing to minimize the blame that would fall towards France and England but you are right there is plenty of guilt to go around. My main disagreement is the philosophy of the first sentence. I come from an engineering back ground and the study of failures is usually where you learn the most. The discussion on why the peace failed to be maintained is probably the most useful part of the study of military history.


message 14: by Bryan (new)

Bryan From my High School history I always thought WWI was randomly caused by the act of a single assassin. But after reading Chapter 3, I am left with the impression that it was about escalation and the fear, and probably the realty, that if one country did not act quickly it would lose territory and maybe even the war. A Domino Effect if you will. From 100 years away it is hard to believe that the speed was so important, how can getting cavalry in place be as important as how fast modern tanks move. I guess speed is relative, each country needed to get its forces into positions faster than there potential adversaries. Also haven grown up during the cold war with “Mutual Assured Destruction” (MAD), it now seems MAD is a lesson learned from WWI. The WWI countries had to act or lose their forces, with MAD each country was confident that if its adversary acted first it would still have the ability to retaliate and destroy the initial aggressor. Would have something like MAD been possible in this era and therefore prevented the war


message 15: by Jan (new)

Jan (janverschoor) Hi Patricrk,

To be more clear: not very useful in order to 'solve' the question: who was guilty? A discussion about mistakes in order to prevent future mistakes can be useful. But frankly: as a lifelong student of history, I am not very optimistic about learning from the mistakes from the past....


Jan wrote: "Patricrk wrote: "...It all seems to revolve around the Tsar decision to indicate strong support for Serbia. If that signal hadn't come Serbia would have accepted the note and the war could have bee..."


message 16: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 04, 2010 09:56AM) (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
Jan, I guess I am the eternal optimist that folks will learn; however how does one even understand what is going on in various parts of the world even today.

Bryan, you raise some interesting points...I think a lot of us thought that the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand was the only catalyst. I think fear of what Germany would do next was the catalyst in all of this as well as the Austrians dislike of the Serbs. Remember the French were deathly afraid of invasion by the Germans and had to deal with them over and over again. Hatred can go a long way when you think about it...in this case it had a lot to do with starting the war alongwith fear.

I am not sure if MAD would have made any difference in World War I. From all of the videos we do have of WWI I was struck how all of them were moving their forces in along the same roads. I guess then there were certain logistical limitations.

Some other military enthusiasts like Aussie Rick or folks who are closer to this having lived on the Continent may be able to answer your query better so I hope folks will jump in.


message 17: by 'Aussie Rick' (last edited Mar 04, 2010 08:55PM) (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) Hi Bryan,

Like Bentley mentioned you have raised some very valid points. From my perspective the War started to run away from those trying to control the flow of events due to the fact that the country that could mobilise its forces first would have the decisive advantage and could choose when to commence hostilities.

The main factor in the Schlieffen Plan was activation and mobilization of Germany's armed forces (standing army & reserves) and rapid movement using the rail system to defeat France before Russia could complete its mobilization; "...to avoid a two-front war by concentrating their troops in the west, quickly defeating the French and then, if necessary, rushing those troops by rail to the east to face the Russians before they had time to mobilize fully."

Being the first country to mobilise and get your troops moving would allow you to overrun the other countries staging areas, depots and frontier fortifications before they were fully manned (most countries did not have large standing armies but relied on the call up of reserves).

I think the idea of 'mutual assured destruction' was exactly the reason why Count Alfred von Schlieffen designed his plan, so Germany could ensure they were not caught up in a MAD type scenario. I also think there was a level of complacency or arrogance, the Germans had crushed the French in 1870-71, so they saw no reason why they should not be able to do so again and then quickly turn on the slumbering bear that was Russia.


message 18: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Bryan wrote: "From my High School history I always thought WWI was randomly caused by the act of a single assassin. But after reading Chapter 3, I am left with the impression that it was about escalation and the..."

Exactly, Bryan. I'm getting that same impression with reading this book. I knew there was a lot more to the start of WWI, but hadn't ever studied it. This is amazing to learn. (And also part of the reason I put The Guns of August on my to-read list. You can tell there is lots more to the story than could be covered in these few chapters.)

The Guns of August by Barbara W. Tuchman by Barbara W. Tuchman Barbara W. Tuchman

Things were so slow back then, but because they were slow for everyone, it is kinda like watching today's events in slow motion.


message 19: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments 'Aussie Rick' wrote: "...The main factor in the Schlieffen Plan was activation and mobilization of Germany's armed forces (standing army & reserves) and rapid movement using the rail system to defeat France before Russia could complete its mobilization; "...to avoid a two-front war by concentrating their troops in the west, quickly defeating the French and then, if necessary, rushing those troops by rail to the east to face the Russians before they had time to mobilize fully." ..."

It seems part of what Germany was hoping for was for Russia to be a little slower in their mobilization than France. So when it turned out that Russia was mobilizing at a faster rate, that must of really caused panic. Maybe things would have been different if Germany had had another war plan that assumed the had to start by dealing with Russia first. Maybe Germany wouldn't have felt a need to be so quick and jump the gun.


message 20: by Kim (new)

Kim  Scripture | 15 comments Elizabeth S wrote: "'Aussie Rick' wrote: "...The main factor in the Schlieffen Plan was activation and mobilization of Germany's armed forces (standing army & reserves) and rapid movement using the rail system to defe..."

Elizabeth, you have now touched on something I was pondering...the reading seems to indicate that German had this ONE primary plan that didn't seem to leave much room for adaptation...success seemed to depend on things happening all a certain way and that doesn't seem realistic at all seeing as there were so many players in the plan (in terms of countries AND their various leaders). So it really begs the question for me why Germany would put so many eggs in one basket?

I think someone else mentioned arrogance and cockiness but wow, really? How shortsighted.


message 21: by Kim (new)

Kim  Scripture | 15 comments Jan wrote: "Hi Patricrk,

To be more clear: not very useful in order to 'solve' the question: who was guilty? A discussion about mistakes in order to prevent future mistakes can be useful. But frankly: as a ..."


Jan, I agree on both counts...sadly. Although I'm not so sure people don't learn the lessons of history...I think it is often more that we choose to ignore them. There are some awfully smart leaders doing awfully dumb things in every part of the world.

Which is why, as I am reading further, I am starting to think WWI is a story more a story about the impact of the advances of technology and the world's profound lack of understanding of the impact it might have on war then any wrong or right thinking leadership or war plans.


message 22: by Patricrk (last edited Mar 05, 2010 09:47AM) (new)

Patricrk patrick | 435 comments Kim wrote: "Which is why, as I am reading further, I am starting to think WWI is a story more a story about the impact of the advances of technology and the world's profound lack of understanding of the impact it might have on war then any wrong or right thinking leadership or war plans"

In the recent industrial age that is very true. The generals are always prepared to fight the last war.

Germany didn't have a lot of respect for Russian prowess since they had been beaten by the Japanese in the early 1900's. They did respect the number of troops the Russians could mobilize. The Germans had beat the French in 1870's and expected a repeat of that performance. The arrogance was probably in thinking that one German could beat two French or three Russians.


message 23: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
Patricrk wrote: "Kim wrote: "Which is why, as I am reading further, I am starting to think WWI is a story more a story about the impact of the advances of technology and the world's profound lack of understanding o..."

Patrick when you reply to a post, I am wondering why your remarks are also in italics. Make sure that the previous person's statement has this symbol at the end before you start typing your remarks.

You should see ; then you can start typing after that. Then you will see their words in italics and yours in regular print. Then the group members can understand the difference.


message 24: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
'Aussie Rick' wrote: "Hi Bryan,

Like Bentley mentioned you have raised some very valid points. From my perspective the War started to run away from those trying to control the flow of events due to the fact that the..."


Great reply Aussie Rick


message 25: by Patricrk (new)

Patricrk patrick | 435 comments Bentley wrote: "Patrick when you reply to a post, I am wondering why your remarks are also in italics. Make sure that the previous person's statement has this symbol at the end before you start typing your remarks."

I'll try to do better, Elizabeth S. sent me a note about it as well.


message 26: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments You got it right here! I just replied with explanations about how to edit your posts and some italics examples.


message 27: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
Patricrk wrote: "Bentley wrote: "Patrick when you reply to a post, I am wondering why your remarks are also in italics. Make sure that the previous person's statement has this symbol at the end before you start typ..."

Actually this last post looks fine. Thank you Elizabeth for helping Patrick. I would post more but in transit.


message 28: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) Elizabeth S wrote: "This chapter was very interesting for me. I'd always thought that after the assassination the war started because countries like Germany and Russia used the assassination as an excuse to expand their territory. Yet in this chapter, Keegan seems to say that no one wanted the war, they all just wanted to be well-prepared for when the other guy attacked. Is Keegan 100% right on his interpretation?"

Keegan is neither 100% right nor 100% wrong. Various elements in every society had differing goals. I do think he is right in saying that the constant pressure to mobilize sent events down a path that the leaders lost control of.

Since every country except perhaps G.B. had plans for the possibility of war (More on that in Chapter 4) once the momentum started, it was hard to stop.

Every major power involved in WW I, in my opinion, had territorial aspirations either in Europe or elsewhere but I don't believe that, except, for possibly, the French, that they wanted to go to war to accomplish their territorial goals.

I think it is very sad that millions of people had to die and to this day we still do not have clarity as to why it happened.


message 29: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 05, 2010 07:34PM) (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
Good post Ed. All of the countries involved seem to have war plans.

But one of the isms - "nationalism" played a pivotal role and was one of the undercurrents which was leading up to this war for a long time. These countries I feel only needed the match.

By nationalism I mean being a strong supporter of the rights and interests of one's own country.

These are some of the examples of events leading up to this nationalistic fervor.

The Congress of Vienna, held after Napoleon's exile to Elba, aimed to sort out problems in Europe. Delegates from Britain, Austria, Prussia and Russia (the winning allies) decided upon a new Europe that left both Germany and Italy as divided states.

Strong nationalist elements led to the re-unification of Italy in 1861 and Germany in 1871.

The settlement at the end of the Franco-Prussian war left France angry at the loss of Alsace-Lorraine to Germany and keen to regain their lost territory.

Large areas of both Austria-Hungary and Serbia were home to differing nationalist groups, all of whom wanted freedom from the states in which they lived.

This of course helped stir the bitterness which divided these countries and could not make them see how futile this war would be.


And of course the imperialism of Britain and France increased the jealousy and rivalry of Germany who had gotten started rather late in the game.





message 30: by Patricrk (new)

Patricrk patrick | 435 comments Bentley wrote: "Good post Ed. All of the countries involved seem to have war plans.

But one of the isms - "nationalism" played a pivotal role and was one of the undercurrents which was leading up to this war for..."


You seem to imply that Germany and Italy were deliberately kept from being unified states at the Congress of Vienna. But, there was no sense of "Italian" or "German" at that time and there wasn't a lot of it at the start of WWI. WWI like the American civil war united those countries which had been more a collection of states or in Italy's case city states than true national entities.


message 31: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 05, 2010 08:03PM) (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
Not really Patricrk..I think what I was pointing out was how seemingly isolated incidents contributed to the build up of the isms.

Italy for sure was just a bunch of city states and we all know that it did not become a republic until 1946. Discussing Italy would be a thread all by itself. I do think however the isms were bubbling up at the time (nationalism, imperialism, militarism, etc.).

I am not sure that I see World War I as analogous to the American Civil War. I think the results of World War I changed these countries for sure.


message 32: by Patricrk (new)

Patricrk patrick | 435 comments Bentley wrote: "I am not sure that I see World War I as analogous to the American Civil War. I think the results of World War I changed these countries for sure."


The more I thought about it the more I think the American Civil War and WWI have a lot of similarities. Both featured major technology changes, both sides thought the war would be over fast, and the war dragged on for about 4 years with major casualties on both sides. Both resulted in major changes to the "countries" that fought them. Though of course in the ACW both sides didn't have detailed plans on how to invade the other.


message 33: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 06, 2010 06:13PM) (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
Patricrk..OK.

It is certainly true that both sides thought that the war would be over fast and miscalculated each other. We were however one country to begin with and I don't think there were major changes in territorial or state boundaries; but for certain -owning slaves changed and with it the southern economic structure. And also true neither side had ever planned to invade the other. So probably I see the differences more than the similarities and you are the other way around (smile)


message 34: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Patricrk wrote: "The more I thought about it the more I think the American Civil War and WWI have a lot of similarities. Both featured major technology changes, both sides thought the war would be over fast, and the war dragged on for about 4 years with major casualties on both sides. Both resulted in major changes to the "countries" that fought them...."

It makes some sense, Patricrk. From my (definitely limited) perspective, there were two big wars in the 19th century--War of 1812 and American Civil War. And in the 20th century the two biggest wars were WWI and WWII. To me, that is a lot of what makes the Civil war and WWI stick together in my mind--both were one of the top two in their centuries.


message 35: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) Patricrk wrote: "The more I thought about it the more I think the American Civil War and WWI have a lot of similarities. Both featured major technology changes, both sides thought the war would be over fast, and the war dragged on for about 4 years with major casualties on both sides. Both resulted in major changes to the "countries" that fought them. Though of course in the ACW both sides didn't have detailed plans on how to invade the other. "

Patrick,

While visiting the Ypres Salient on a tour of the battlefield, I met a very knowledgeable Brit who planted the idea that the combination of WWI and WWII was Europe's equivalent of the U.S. Civil War.

The more I thought about it, the more I found it made sense. The biggest difference was that it took an outsider, the U.S., to settle things.

I'm not sure this is the right thread to pursue the idea and I don't have the time to discuss it here and now but it helps explain a lot of things.


message 36: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 06, 2010 09:34PM) (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
Hello Ed, I remember you discussing that point in the Kearns discussion. Very true about the outsider being the decisive turning point whereas the Civil War was a fight between two parts of itself and within one country.

I am not so sure that this is the right thread for pursuit of this discussion. We do have a glossary thread here in this segment and the Off Topic Community thread.

Although don't all of these major conflicts have similarities in part due to the nature and the most common reasons for the initiation of war? Being that this is a non spoiler thread..this conversation should continue in one of the spoiler locations for sure.

Thank you Ed for your add. It does make for an interesting ancillary discussion; possibly at the end when we discuss the book and the war as a while. Additionally, we do have a First World War thread in the Military History location and there some of these kinds of discussions can certainly bloom without the constructs of a non spoiler thread.

Here in this section we have both...the weekly non spoiler threads and the supplemental threads which are all potential spoiler locations.


message 37: by Vincent (new)

Vincent (vpbrancato) | 1245 comments Arriving late and seeing the comments I must agree that the Europeans were pretty ready for war and that the Brits seemed to be less so.

The British of course were ready with their navy and I cannot remember the last time that Britain was actually invaded by a foreign army on the Isles so maybe they were not, in their minds, less prepared than the Germans or French etc.

But all had this mobilization time table and the Germans especially failed to successfully do a timely launch of their Schlieffen plan although this was their grand strategy - and they could not delay - and the generals probably felt they had to push their Kaiser to going.

Is it that the Germans got pushed to support the AHs and the Russians finally to support the Serbs that the "World War" resulted?

The technology that fostered the wars start was the necessary inertia to mobilize - to do it first - by the military.

The technology that was not there to turn it around for the political leaders / the monarchial leaders was the lack of fast dependable communications.

I think this chapter, and not spoiled but supplemented by what you folks wrote before I read these notes, also exposes the underlying forces moving on the Continent. – The fact that the AHs wanted to reinforce their hold – to dilute and eliminate the Serbian influence – that the Germans were competing with the Brits for a Navy – that the French did not want to fight the Germans again –

It is still vague to me that this war had to be. I think if there were cell phones possibly not.(that is an oversimplification)


message 38: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
It might not be an oversimplification Vince. I have felt that deep resentment, bitterness, hatred and pride are what pushed these folks into war...and especially the AHs intense dislike of the Serbs. Cooler heads should have prevailed and did not. And all of those wonderful men from all of these countries died as a result.


message 39: by Sera (new)

Sera | 145 comments Great discussions here. I think that the first factor in proliferation was the existing alliances, and the second, the lack of trust and paranoia that existed among the countries that weren't in alliances. No country wanted to be surprised so each continued to acclerate its position, which ultimately caused a snowball effect.

What else I found interesting that I don't believe was mentioned here was the time that had elapsed between the assassination and the start of the actual war. Keegan posits that if AH had simply attacked Serbia immediately and kept its military sights locally, then it is likely that neither Germany nor Russia would have intervened. But it was AH's need (even though I'm still not clear why) to have Germany's backing that broadened the geographical sphere of the strike and caused it spread to other countries. Quite fascinating, in my opinion.


message 40: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited May 08, 2010 04:30PM) (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
Yes Sera you make some very good points. If everybody around you is building up in order to make war and/or to avenge some prior infraction what are you to do.

I am not sure that I agree with Keegan about that point. I think he is hypothesizing here. I think Germany was itching to have a situation. But you raise an interesting point that Keegan made. Who knows?


message 41: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) At the risk of introducing a psychological explanation, I would suggest that pride motivated many of the leaders. As Keegan points out, the war made no sense in terms of the supposedly enlightened thinking of the time. "Pride goeth before a fall."

That is in no way to downplay all the other reasons. Yet, I think it was impossible for the leaders of Germany, France, and Russia, in particular, to imagine that they would lose.


message 42: by Patricrk (new)

Patricrk patrick | 435 comments Ed wrote: "At the risk of introducing a psychological explanation, I would suggest that pride motivated many of the leaders. As Keegan points out, the war made no sense in terms of the supposedly enlightened..."

I would think your right about a whole lot of pride but I think they could imagine losing. It is only the fear of the consequences of losing that prevented some leader from putting the brakes on the mobilization and taking a rational view of the whole situation.


message 43: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
Probably true Ed and I think it was national pride that kept the war going. A very good point.


back to top