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The Origins of the First World War


The origins of the First World War have occupied us for decades. Nearly ninety years after its outbreak, the cause of the war continues to pose challenging questions. In this innovative book, Annika Mombauer explains why the search for an explanation of the outbreak of the war has been both obsessive and challenging, and why it remains difficult to establish the precise reason for war breaking out in 1914. The origins of the First World War are a particularly telling example of the connection between history-writing and contemporary political concerns, in which the past is viewed through the lens of the present, and vice versa.

Germany necessarily occupies a central part in this account. Having been blamed for causing the war, it was here that most effort was expended to counter such allegations. However, the actions of other belligerents are also under scrutiny, and interpretations of the role of Britain, France, Russia and Serbia in the events that led to war are examined.

Opening with an overview of the events that led to the outbreak of war in 1914, followed by an analysis highlighting the debate during and immediately after the war, the author also covers the reactions to the Treaty of Versailles, both in Europe and in the USA; the new consensus following the Second World War; and the challenges posed to that new orthodoxy by Fritz Fischer and his theses. She brings the story up to the present with current views of the significance and meaning of the origins of the First World War.

Annika Mombauer is Lecturer in European History, The Open University. She is the author of Helmuth von Moltke and the Origins ofthe First World War (2001).


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Table of Contents

Introduction Part 1: The question of war guilt during the war at the Versailles peace negotiations Part 2: Revisionist and anti- revisionists Part 3: The origins of the war and the question of continuity in German History Part 4: Post - Fischer consensus and continuing Debates Conclusion Bibliography Index

About the Author

Annika Mombauer lectures in Modern European History at The Open University. Her publications include the recently published "Helmuth von Motke and the Origins of the First World War "CUP (2001).


"essential reading" "BBC History" "readable, informative and lucid ... the book [has] a passionate feel that makes for a good read and provides a clear line of argument" Matthew Hughes", Reviews in History" "a valuable and essential analysis that should be studied with care by anyone trying to understand not just the war itself but much of twentieth century historical writing.' "Contemporary Review" "Mombauer's book is to be welcomed... [she] manages to provide even the most seasoned scholar in this field with much else to think about." Gaynor Johnson, Bolton Institute, "History"

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