Dance of the Furies by Michael S. Neiberg
Europe and the Outbreak of World War I

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The common explanation for the outbreak of World War I depicts Europe as a minefield of nationalism, needing only the slightest pressure to set off an explosion of passion that would rip the continent apart. But in a crucial reexamination of the outbreak of violence, Michael Neiberg shows that ordinary Europeans, unlike their political and military leaders, neither wanted nor expected war during the fateful summer of 1914. By training his eye on the ways that people outside the halls of power reacted to the rapid onset and escalation of the fighting, Neiberg dispels the notion that Europeans were rabid nationalists intent on mass slaughter. He reveals instead a complex set of allegiances that cut across national boundaries.

Neiberg marshals letters, diaries, and memoirs of ordinary citizens across Europe to show that the onset of war was experienced as a sudden, unexpected event. As they watched a minor diplomatic crisis erupt into a continental bloodbath, they expressed shock, revulsion, and fear. But when bargains between belligerent governments began to crumble under the weight of conflict, public disillusionment soon followed. Yet it was only after the fighting acquired its own horrible momentum that national hatreds emerged under the pressure of mutually escalating threats, wartime atrocities, and intense government propaganda.

Dance of the Furies gives voice to a generation who found themselves compelled to participate in a ghastly, protracted orgy of violence they never imagined would come to pass.


About Michael S. Neiberg

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Michael S. Neiberg is Professor of History at the University of Southern Mississippi and Harold K. Johnson Visiting Professor at the US Army War College from 2010-2012.
Published April 25, 2011 by Belknap Press. 336 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference, Travel, War. Non-fiction

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Publishers Weekly

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Though many (including Stefan Zweig) kept faith in the diplomatic systems that had defused major crises before (Agadir, the Balkan War, and Albania), these systems failed as events moved so rapidly that there was no way to control the descent of the continent into war.

May 02 2011 | Read Full Review of Dance of the Furies: Europe a...

Open Letters Monthly

Neiberg’s new book, Dance of the Furies, becomes at once the new pinnacle in brief studies of the coming of the First World War (for elephantine studies of the same period, Hew Strachan’s The First World War, Vol.

Apr 16 2011 | Read Full Review of Dance of the Furies: Europe a...

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