10 books like Armaments and the Coming of War

By David Stevenson,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Armaments and the Coming of War. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Austria-Hungary and the Origins of the First World War

By Samuel R. Williamson, Jr,

Book cover of Austria-Hungary and the Origins of the First World War

There are many different vantage points from which to view the road to war in 1914, but an essential one is that which focuses on the ethos, politics, and strategy of one of the constellations of European Great Powers. In the 1980s, Macmillan published a series of books focusing on each of these, written by acknowledged experts (Zara Steiner on Britain, John Keiger on France, Dominic Lieven on Russia, Volker Berghahn on Germany, Richard Bosworth on Italy). The last in the series appeared in 1990, when Samuel Williamson published his study of Austria-Hungary.

It was well worth the wait. Comprehensive in its structure, balanced in its judgments, meticulous in its research, Williamson established a new standard for studies of the Great Powers. His conclusion – that Austria-Hungary was largely responsible for initiating the July Crisis and, ultimately, the war itself – is persuasively argued and the story compellingly told.

Austria-Hungary and the Origins of the First World War

By Samuel R. Williamson, Jr,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Austria-Hungary and the Origins of the First World War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A major re-examination of Habsburg decision-making from 1912 to July 1914, the study argues that Austria-Hungary and not Germany made the crucial decisions for war in the summer of 1914. Based on extensive new archival research, the book traces the gradual militarization of Austro-Hungarian foreign policy during the Balkan Wars. The disasters of those wars and the death of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir-apparent and a force for peace in the monarchy, convinced the Habsburg elite that only a war against Serbia would end the South Slav threat to the monarchy's existence. Williamson also describes Russia's assertive foreign policy…


Raymond Poincaré

By John F.V. Keiger,

Book cover of Raymond Poincaré

John Keiger followed his study of French foreign policy with a ground-breaking biography of the most important Frenchman of the day, Raymond Poincaré. Readers have a multitude of biographies to turn to in their quest for an explanation of the war’s origins: the rulers of Russia, Germany, and Austria-Hungary; the leading politicians, foreign ministers, strategists, and diplomats of most of the states involved. But no biographical study has surpassed Keiger’s.

Poincaré was a pivotal figure in the diplomacy and politics of Europe before the war, serving in numerous positions, including those of foreign minister, prime minister, and president. His devotion to the alliance with Russia and his distrust of Germany led his critics to denounce him for his role in the outbreak of war. Keiger’s magnificent biography provides us with an elegantly written, thoroughly researched, and nuanced account of Poincaré’s role and policies.

Raymond Poincaré

By John F.V. Keiger,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Raymond Poincaré as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This study is a scholarly biography of one of France's foremost political leaders. In a career which ran from the 1880s to the 1930s, one of the most formative periods of modern French history, Poincare held the principal offices of state. He played crucial roles in France's entry into the Great War, the organisation of the war effort, the peace settlement, the reparations question, the occupation of the Ruhr and the reorganisation of French finances in the 1920s. His life and work is surrounded by controversy and myth, from 'Poincare-la-guerre' to 'Poincare-le-franc', which this book dissects. Using a host of…


July Crisis

By T. G. Otte,

Book cover of July Crisis: The World's Descent into War, Summer 1914

The First World War broke out in August 1914; by September 1914 articles and essays began to appear that defended – or attacked – the policies of the men responsible for the July Crisis. Books soon followed. And they have never stopped. No crisis in history has received more attention than that of July 1914. The topic, with its vast complexities, missed opportunities, and contradictory explanations, continues to fascinate us.

No book on the subject is more captivating than Thomas Otte’s day-by-day unravelling of the complicated diplomacy pursued by the statesmen of Europe. His mastery of the subject is impressive (he has written dozens of articles and essays on the diplomacy of prewar Europe) and his balanced treatment of the topic serves as a model of dispassionate scholarship.

July Crisis

By T. G. Otte,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked July Crisis as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a magisterial new account of Europe's tragic descent into a largely inadvertent war in the summer of 1914. Thomas Otte reveals why a century-old system of Great Power politics collapsed so disastrously in the weeks from the 'shot heard around the world' on June 28th to Germany's declaration of war on Russia on August 1st. He shows definitively that the key to understanding how and why Europe descended into world war is to be found in the near-collective failure of statecraft by the rulers of Europe and not in abstract concepts such as the 'balance of power' or…


Roads to Glory

By Ronald P. Bobroff,

Book cover of Roads to Glory: Late Imperial Russia and the Turkish Straits

One of the most enduring explanations for the outbreak of war in 1914 is that of ‘imperialism’. The argument that competition for resources beyond the ‘natural’ frontiers of European states created bitter rivalries among the Great Powers had been made many times before 1914, whenever a crisis in Africa, Asia, or the Middle East threatened to turn into a shooting war. But disentangling the complex motives, strategies, and tactics that intersected Great Power politics is a daunting task.

One of the finest case studies of the imperial mentalité can be found in Bobroff’s fascinating book. Not only does he break new ground in this study, but he has mined the Russian archives to great effect, moving the subject along from grand, unproven assertions concerning Russian policies to a detailed and persuasive understanding of both their ambitions and their fears.

Roads to Glory

By Ronald P. Bobroff,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Roads to Glory as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Until now, it has been accepted that the Turkish Straits - the Russian fleet's gateway to the Mediterranean - were a key factor in shaping Russian policy in the years leading to World War I. Control of the Straits had always been accepted as the major priority of Imperial Russia's foreign policy. In this powerfully argued revisionist history, Ronald Bobroff exposes the true Russian concern before the outbreak of war: the containment of German aggression. Based on extensive new research, Bobroff provides fascinating new insights into Russia's state development before the revolution, examining the policies and personal correspondence of its…


Imagining the Balkans

By Maria N. Todorova,

Book cover of Imagining the Balkans

This is an extraordinary book that gives a broad understanding of the Balkan region in its cultural and historical contexts. The book explores the concept of the Balkans and its changing meaning which far surpasses its geographical connotations, becoming some kind of a concept-container capable of containing all sorts of fantasies and political aspirations. The book does an excellent job of depicting how various imperialisms managed to determine, to a very significant extent, the fate of peoples in the Balkans, while creating a certain image of the region whose significance extends far beyond its physical boundaries.

Imagining the Balkans

By Maria N. Todorova,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Imagining the Balkans as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"If the Balkans hadn't existed, they would have been invented" was the verdict of Count Hermann Keyserling in his famous 1928 publication, Europe. Over ten years ago, Maria Todorova traced the relationship between the reality and the invention. Based on a rich selection of travelogues, diplomatic accounts, academic surveys, journalism, and belles-lettres in many languages, Imagining the Balkans explored the ontology of the Balkans from the sixteenth
century to the present day, uncovering the ways in which an insidious intellectual tradition was constructed, became mythologized, and is still being transmitted as discourse.

Maria Todorova, who was raised in the Balkans,…


Dance of the Furies

By Michael Neiberg,

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

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.

Dance of the Furies

By Michael Neiberg,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Dance of the Furies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

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…


Goodbye, Mr. Chips

By James Hilton,

Book cover of Goodbye, Mr. Chips

A novel that presents the career of the schoolmaster Mr. Chipping at Brookfield, a public school in the years towards the end of the 19th century into the 20th. The novel records how in his early days he proved less than effective as a teacher with severe discipline problems but with the help of his new wife he is able to generate deep affection from his charges. The book certainly has some sad moments but overall it is an uplifting read with the underlying theme that goodness always comes out on top.

Goodbye, Mr. Chips

By James Hilton,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Goodbye, Mr. Chips as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mr. Hilton's classic story of an English schoolmaster.


The House of Rothschild

By Niall Ferguson,

Book cover of The House of Rothschild: The World's Banker 1849-1999

Ferguson shows us a neural network of another sort: the web of offshore finance and international co-investment that culminated in the First World War—not at Sarajevo but in the Middle East, where Great Britain and Germany faced off over railroad access to Britain’s prize possession, India. Wrapped in the thoroughly engaging family history of the far-flung Rothschilds and how they knit themselves together in an empire of their own, Ferguson embeds an equally enthralling history of what he calls “Globalization I,” the 19th-century race to connect the empires established in the preceding age of exploration with their European centers of power by commercial rather than military means, with railway and telecommunications lines as their primary instruments. I am indebted to him for inspiring insights into how, in the years preceding World War I, the great European railway race came down to the finish line, the last and crucial link connecting…

The House of Rothschild

By Niall Ferguson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The House of Rothschild as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This second volume of Niall Ferguson's acclaimed, landmark history of the legendary Rothschild banking dynasty concludes his myth-breaking portrait of one of the most powerful and fascinating families of modern times. With all the depth, clarity and drama with which he traced the Rothschild's ascent, Ferguson shows how their power waned as conflicts from Crimea to the Second World War repeatedly threatened the stability of their worldwide empire, and how their failure to establish themselves successfully in the United States would prove fateful. At once a classic family saga and a major work of economic, social and political history, this…


The Woman on the Bench

By Eliot Stevens,

Book cover of The Woman on the Bench

Not only is this a great story but I think it’s beautifully written, even more exceptional because this is Stevens’ debut. Quite often, psychological thrillers are such page-turners, the reader doesn’t properly appreciate the words. I think that Elliot Stevens achieves both literary finesse and fast-paced action in this book. Set in London and the south of England, it’s tightly woven with an original premise, and as a bonus, has a fabulous twist at the end. Mark and Cecilia seem to have the perfect life, until he meets Alice. But he can’t leave Cecilia because she knows too much…

The Woman on the Bench

By Eliot Stevens,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Woman on the Bench as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At last, Mark has found the perfect woman. There’s just one small problem – his wife.

Married couple Mark and Cecilia seem to have it all – looks, wealth, love. But behind closed doors, things are very different – they live in silent resentment, their marriage broken by the shattering loss of the child they so desperately wanted.

Enter Alice – Mark’s idea of the perfect woman. She appears from nowhere and offers Mark the chance of a new life filled with love, passion, and – finally – the joys of parenthood. Everything he’s ever dreamed of.

But there’s a…


The Small Pleasures Of Life

By Philippe Delerm,

Book cover of The Small Pleasures Of Life

This is an excellent series of essays on the small things in life which please the author. Some are more obvious than others, but all are described stylishly and with typical French humour and elegance. I confess that after reading it, I did my own—inevitably inferiorversion. But it was an enjoyment just going through the process.

The Small Pleasures Of Life

By Philippe Delerm,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Small Pleasures Of Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An enchanting celebration of life's small pleasures, this little book captures the French imagination and art of living a good life.

Each chapter features a small pleasure that is both uniquely Gallic and universal. From the smell of apples maturing in a cellar to the gentle whir of a bicycle dynamo at dusk to turning the pages of a newspaper over breakfast, to the joy of a snowstorm inside a paperweight . . .

Recounted with a lively, innocent curiosity about the little things that make life worthwhile, this is an unforgettable, absorbing read to be savoured at length by…


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