Dance of the Furies

By Michael Neiberg,

Book cover of Dance of the Furies: Europe and the Outbreak of World War I

Book description

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…


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Why read it?

2 authors picked Dance of the Furies as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This book provides a radically alternative perspective on what this event meant for ordinary people. Using a wide range of letters, diaries, and memoirs, Neiberg reveals that most people had no idea what the war was about and saw no good reason for it, while the soldiers were often confused as to whom they were fighting and which part of the world they were in. It is a short book but an enlightening read.

There is no shortage of books on why Europe, and then much of the world, went to war in 1914. Margaret MacMillan or Christopher Clark have offered deep insights, but my favourite short, readable, and scholarly history is Michael Neiberg’s Dance of the Furies. Neiberg skillfully braids together the complex interplay of societies gearing up and marching as to war, laying forth for the reader all of the the dark legacies, alliances, diplomatic errors, and tragic decisions that would lead to the relentless slaughter.

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