The War That Ended Peace by Margaret MacMillan
The Road to 1914

70%

11 Critic Reviews

One of the strengths of “The War That Ended Peace” is MacMillan’s ability to evoke the world at the beginning of the 20th century, when Europe had gone 85 years without a general war between the great powers.
-NY Times

Synopsis

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The New York Times Book Review • The Economist • The Christian Science Monitor • Bloomberg Businessweek • The Globe and Mail

From the bestselling and award-winning author of Paris 1919 comes a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction, a fascinating portrait of Europe from 1900 up to the outbreak of World War I.
 
The century since the end of the Napoleonic wars had been the most peaceful era Europe had known since the fall of the Roman Empire. In the first years of the twentieth century, Europe believed it was marching to a golden, happy, and prosperous future. But instead, complex personalities and rivalries, colonialism and ethnic nationalisms, and shifting alliances helped to bring about the failure of the long peace and the outbreak of a war that transformed Europe and the world.
 
The War That Ended Peace brings vividly to life the military leaders, politicians, diplomats, bankers, and the extended, interrelated family of crowned heads across Europe who failed to stop the descent into war: in Germany, the mercurial Kaiser Wilhelm II and the chief of the German general staff, Von Moltke the Younger; in Austria-Hungary, Emperor Franz Joseph, a man who tried, through sheer hard work, to stave off the coming chaos in his empire; in Russia, Tsar Nicholas II and his wife; in Britain, King Edward VII, Prime Minister Herbert Asquith, and British admiral Jacky Fisher, the fierce advocate of naval reform who entered into the arms race with Germany that pushed the continent toward confrontation on land and sea.
 
There are the would-be peacemakers as well, among them prophets of the horrors of future wars whose warnings went unheeded: Alfred Nobel, who donated his fortune to the cause of international understanding, and Bertha von Suttner, a writer and activist who was the first woman awarded Nobel’s new Peace Prize. Here too we meet the urbane and cosmopolitan Count Harry Kessler, who noticed many of the early signs that something was stirring in Europe; the young Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty and a rising figure in British politics; Madame Caillaux, who shot a man who might have been a force for peace; and more. With indelible portraits, MacMillan shows how the fateful decisions of a few powerful people changed the course of history.
 
Taut, suspenseful, and impossible to put down, The War That Ended Peace is also a wise cautionary reminder of how wars happen in spite of the near-universal desire to keep the peace. Destined to become a classic in the tradition of Barbara Tuchman’s The Guns of August, The War That Ended Peace enriches our understanding of one of the defining periods and events of the twentieth century.
 
Praise for The War That Ended Peace
 
“Magnificent . . . The War That Ended Peace will certainly rank among the best books of the centennial crop.”—The Economist
 
“Superb.”—The New York Times Book Review
 
“Masterly . . . marvelous . . . Those looking to understand why World War I happened will have a hard time finding a better place to start.”—The Christian Science Monitor
 
“The debate over the war’s origins has raged for years. Ms. MacMillan’s explanation goes straight to the heart of political fallibility. . . . Elegantly written, with wonderful character sketches of the key players, this is a book to be treasured.”—The Wall Street Journal

“A magisterial 600-page panorama.”—Christopher Clark, London Review of Books

 

About Margaret MacMillan

See more books from this Author
MARGARET MACMILLAN received her DPhil from Oxford University and is now a professor of International History at Oxford, where she is also the Warden of St. Antony's College. She was previously provost of Trinity College and professor of history at the University of Toronto. Her previous books include Dangerous Games: The Uses and Abuses of History, Nixon and Mao: The Week that Changed the World, Women of the Raj, and Paris 1919, which won the Samuel Johnson Prize, the PEN Hessell Tiltman Prize, the Duff Cooper Prize and was a New York Times Editors' Choice.





Author Residence: Oxford, England





Author Hometown: Toronto, Ontario
 
Published October 29, 2013 by Random House. 784 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel, War. Non-fiction
Add Critic Review

Critic reviews for The War That Ended Peace
All: 11 | Positive: 7 | Negative: 4

Kirkus

Below average
on Jul 15 2013

The author’s presentation is so thorough that it is often easy to lose sight of her theme. While MacMillan’s prose is mostly lively, it lacks a narrative flair that could help carry readers through this monumental work.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Sep 09 2013

Macmillan, professor of international history at Oxford, follows her Paris 1919 with another richly textured narrative about WWI, this time addressing the war’s build-up.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by RICHARD ALDOUS on Oct 25 2013

One of the strengths of “The War That Ended Peace” is MacMillan’s ability to evoke the world at the beginning of the 20th century, when Europe had gone 85 years without a general war between the great powers.

Read Full Review of The War That Ended Peace: The... | See more reviews from NY Times

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by David Blackbourn on Oct 24 2013

...richly textured account of the road to war. Her title draws attention to the fact that Europe had seen no major war for decades before 1914, although some powers had fought in limited conflicts...

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Blog Critics

Below average
Reviewed by A. Jurek on Oct 21 2013

...MacMillan is largely unconvincing in some key arguments about the war’s origins and offers no new reinterpretation of events the lead up to the war.

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Washington Times

Good
Reviewed by James Srodes on Oct 28 2013

Ms. MacMillan is at her best on the diplomats and politicians. Both have a keen eye for the telling personal anecdote, and each has an easily accessible writing style...

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Globe and Mail

Good
Reviewed by Tim Cook on Nov 08 2013

The War that Ended Peace by Margaret MacMillan, one of the most recognized and respected historians in the English-speaking world, comes with much expectation...She draws together the divergent threads that motivated the decision makers in the lead-up to war.

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Toronto Star

Below average
Reviewed by James Macgowan on Oct 29 2013

Though MacMillan tries to steer a neutral course, it is clear in this important work where her sentiments lie. It won’t be the final word in this debate though.

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The Economist

Good
on Nov 09 2013

The Great War had a kaleidoscope of causes. Ms MacMillan tackles them all, with the blend of detail and sweeping observation that underpinned her earlier, prize-winning book “Peacemakers”, about the 1919 Treaty of Versailles and its aftermath.

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National Post arts

Good
Reviewed by Vit Wagner on Nov 08 2013

As might be expected from an author whose books include The Uses and Abuses of History, a timely reminder that all roads do not lead to Munich or wherever else we might self-interestedly direct them to go, MacMillan prizes prudent, balanced analysis over brash grandstanding.

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National Post arts

Good
Reviewed by Vit Wagner on Nov 08 2013

As might be expected from an author whose books include The Uses and Abuses of History, a timely reminder that all roads do not lead to Munich or wherever else we might self-interestedly direct them to go, MacMillan prizes prudent, balanced analysis over brash grandstanding.

Read Full Review of The War That Ended Peace: The... | See more reviews from National Post arts

Reader Rating for The War That Ended Peace
79%

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