July 1914: Countdown to War by Sean McMeekin. PART 3 of 4.

Oct 01, 2017, 12:00 AM

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July 1914: Countdown to War by Sean McMeekin. PART 3 of 4.

National Review “[A] gripping and well-researched new book. In prose of admirable clarity, [McMeekin] relates the enormously complex events of that fateful summer.... In his day-by-day and even hour-by-hour account, [McMeekin] brings a sprawling cast of characters to life.”

Philadelphia Inquirer “[McMeekin is] a young, talented historian.... [He] is scrupulously fair and judicious in assigning blame.... McMeekin has written a fascinating and original study of the opening stages of World War I, a book that supersedes, in my view, any previous study of that great topic.”

Harold Evans, New York Times Book Review “The historiography of World War I is immense, more than 25,000 volumes and articles even before next year’s centenary. Still, ... Sean McMeekin, in July 1914, [offers a] new perspective.... McMeekin has chosen the zoom lens. He opens with a crisp but vivid reconstruction of the double murder in the sunshine of Sarajevo, then concentrates entirely on unraveling the choreography day by day.”

Sunday Times (London) “[A] work of meticulous scholarship.... It is McMeekin’s description of the details of life in the European capitals – comparatively small events which influenced great decisions – which make July 1914 irresistible.... It is that sort of intimacy which makes the story come alive – as well as confirming the assiduity with which it has been researched.”

New York Review of Books “Sean McMeekin’s chronicle of these weeks in July 1914: Countdown to War is almost impossible to put down.... [McMeekin] delivers a punchy and riveting narrative of high politics and diplomacy over the five weeks after Sarajevo, more or less day by day, dwelling on small groups of decision-makers in and between the various capitals, and their interactions, by turns measured, perplexed, cordial, artful, angry, even tearful.”

Times Higher Education (UK) “In this detailed account of the events and decisions that marked the road to war, Sean McMeekin demonstrates how, during what seemed a peaceful summer month, something that might have ended (at worst) in just another bloody Balkan battle led instead to the outbreak of the greatest conflict since the Napoleonic Wars.... [A] startling exercise in revisionism.”

Washington Times “Masterful.”

Financial Times “Stimulating and enjoyable.... Sean McMeekin’s July 1914 is controversial, arguing that Russia and France were more bent than Germany on war in July 1914.... [A] well-written book.”

Commonweal “In July 1914, Sean McMeekin [...] provides a day-by-day, sometimes hour-by-hour, account of the crisis that began with the assassination in Sarajevo. By keeping his account close to the shifting contours of the crisis, he is able to capture its human dimensions.”

On Point Radio “McMeekin makes this old story new. His history reads like a novel. Better, it unfolds like a play.... McMeekin adds dollops of fresh savory fact on every page. More importantly, he sees the whole crisis unclouded by bias for or against his characters or their countries.... July 1914 is superb history and compelling reading.”

Columbus Dispatch “Blending scholarly research with a breezy and descriptive writing style, McMeekin makes a reader feel like a firsthand witness to the key events of that fateful summer.... McMeekin’s work is also a primer for today’s diplomats on how not to allow a small event to spiral out of control into a major war.”

The Independent (London) “Lucid, convincing and full of rich detail, the book is a triumph for the narrative method and a vivid demonstration that chronology is the logic of history.”

Prospect (UK) “McMeekin’s account is particularly worth reading for...