100 books like Austria-Hungary and the Origins of the First World War

By Samuel R. Williamson, Jr,

Here are 100 books that Austria-Hungary and the Origins of the First World War fans have personally recommended if you like Austria-Hungary and the Origins of the First World War. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Raymond Poincaré

Gordon Martel Author Of The Origins of the First World War

From my list on why the First World War happened.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of diplomacy, war, and empire. A founding editor of The International History Review, I have written books on ‘Imperial Diplomacy’, on the origins of the First World War, and on the July Crisis. I have edited: the 5-volume Encyclopedia of War and the 4-volume Encyclopedia of Diplomacy; the journals of A.L. Kennedy for the Royal Historical Society; numerous collections of essays, and the multi-volume Seminar Studies in History series. I am currently working on a two-volume study of Political Intelligence in Great Britain, 1900-1950, which is a group biography of the men who made up the Department of Political Intelligence in Britain, 1917-1919

Gordon's book list on why the First World War happened

Gordon Martel Why did Gordon love this book?

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.

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…


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

Gordon Martel Author Of The Origins of the First World War

From my list on why the First World War happened.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of diplomacy, war, and empire. A founding editor of The International History Review, I have written books on ‘Imperial Diplomacy’, on the origins of the First World War, and on the July Crisis. I have edited: the 5-volume Encyclopedia of War and the 4-volume Encyclopedia of Diplomacy; the journals of A.L. Kennedy for the Royal Historical Society; numerous collections of essays, and the multi-volume Seminar Studies in History series. I am currently working on a two-volume study of Political Intelligence in Great Britain, 1900-1950, which is a group biography of the men who made up the Department of Political Intelligence in Britain, 1917-1919

Gordon's book list on why the First World War happened

Gordon Martel Why did Gordon love this book?

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.

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…


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

Gordon Martel Author Of The Origins of the First World War

From my list on why the First World War happened.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of diplomacy, war, and empire. A founding editor of The International History Review, I have written books on ‘Imperial Diplomacy’, on the origins of the First World War, and on the July Crisis. I have edited: the 5-volume Encyclopedia of War and the 4-volume Encyclopedia of Diplomacy; the journals of A.L. Kennedy for the Royal Historical Society; numerous collections of essays, and the multi-volume Seminar Studies in History series. I am currently working on a two-volume study of Political Intelligence in Great Britain, 1900-1950, which is a group biography of the men who made up the Department of Political Intelligence in Britain, 1917-1919

Gordon's book list on why the First World War happened

Gordon Martel Why did Gordon love this book?

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.

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…


Book cover of Armaments and the Coming of War: Europe, 1904-1914

Gordon Martel Author Of The Origins of the First World War

From my list on why the First World War happened.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of diplomacy, war, and empire. A founding editor of The International History Review, I have written books on ‘Imperial Diplomacy’, on the origins of the First World War, and on the July Crisis. I have edited: the 5-volume Encyclopedia of War and the 4-volume Encyclopedia of Diplomacy; the journals of A.L. Kennedy for the Royal Historical Society; numerous collections of essays, and the multi-volume Seminar Studies in History series. I am currently working on a two-volume study of Political Intelligence in Great Britain, 1900-1950, which is a group biography of the men who made up the Department of Political Intelligence in Britain, 1917-1919

Gordon's book list on why the First World War happened

Gordon Martel Why did Gordon love this book?

One of the most popular explanations for the outbreak of war between 1918 and 1939 was that it had been caused by the ‘Merchants of Death,’ i.e. the large armaments firms and their financiers who profited from international animosity. Although the conspiracy theory tendency in this belief gradually dissipated, the idea that the arms race was a significant contributory factor leading to war has long featured on any list of ‘causes’.

David Stevenson’s exhaustive research in the archives of most of the combatant states has provided us with massive and fascinating detail on the thinking of those involved and the relationship between geopolitical ambitions, strategic calculations, and financial realities. His treatment makes for fascinating reading, enhanced by crisply argued interpretations of the role of military and naval preparedness in the crises that plagued prewar Europe.

By David Stevenson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The global impact of the First World War dominated the history of the first half of the twentieth century. This major reassessment of the origins of the war, based on extensive original research in several countries, is the first full analysis of the politics of armaments in pre-1914 Europe.

David Stevenson directs attention away from the Anglo-German naval race towards the competition on land between the continental armies. He analyses the defence policies of the Powers, and the interaction between the growth of military preparedness and the diplomatic crises in the Mediterranean and the Balkans that culminated in the events…


Book cover of The Fortress: The Siege of Przemysl and the Making of Europe's Bloodlands

Adam Zamoyski Author Of Warsaw 1920: Lenin’s Failed Conquest of Europe

From my list on to truly understand the First World War.

Why am I passionate about this?

Adam Zamoyski is a British historian of Polish origin. He is the author of over a dozen award winning books. His family originates in Poland. His parents left the country when it was invaded by Germany and Russia in 1939, and were stranded in exile when the Soviets took it over at the end of World War II. Drawn to it as much by the historical processes at work there as by family ties, Zamoyski began to visit Poland in the late 1960s. His interest in the subject is combined with a feel for its connections to the history and culture of other nations, and a deep understanding of the pan-European context.

Adam's book list on to truly understand the First World War

Adam Zamoyski Why did Adam love this book?

This book not only tells the fascinating story of the great siege in 1914-15 of the supposedly impregnable fortress of Przemyśl. It is a highly readable and often darkly humorous account, based on an extraordinary array of sources in several languages, paints a vivid picture of the political and military shambles into which the Austro-Hungarian Empire had fallen. With chilling precision, it also identifies the presence of many of the germs which would flourish into the horrors which visited the same area in the following decades.

By Alexander Watson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


A prizewinning historian tells the dramatic story of the siege that changed the course of the First World War

In September 1914, just a month into World War I, the Russian army laid siege to the fortress city of Przemysl, the Hapsburg Empire's most important bulwark against invasion. For six months, against storm and starvation, the ragtag garrison bitterly resisted, denying the Russians a quick victory. Only in March 1915 did the city fall, bringing occupation, persecution, and brutal ethnic cleansing.

In The Fortress, historian Alexander Watson tells the story of the battle for Przemysl, showing how it marked the…


Book cover of The Radetzky March

Anton Gill Author Of The Journey Back from Hell

From my list on the best I have read so far.

Why am I passionate about this?

I think Zoroastrianism got it right: there's a constant knife-edge balance between good and evil, with neither quite winning; but we shouldn't be overconfident that one day that balance will tip to the bad side because that is always more dominant. Art in all forms has served dictators and tyrants as well as criticised them; few works have ever actually changed anything. If they have, it's been through literature most of all. Zola's 'j'accuse' and Sinclair's 'the jungle' are two obvious examples, but all the books I have chosen are powerful tools for self–examination, and as someone who is particularly interested in man's inhumanity to man I have found them useful. 

Anton's book list on the best I have read so far

Anton Gill Why did Anton love this book?

Joseph Roth, an alcoholic, itinerant journalist who never had a proper home, was a friend of Stefan Zweig but enjoyed nothing like his success; yet I think this is one of the greatest neglected novels ever written. The last, collapsing days of the Austro–Hungarian empire are depicted through a family saga whose characters burn themselves onto one's mind. Claustrophobic, unremitting, reminiscent in some ways of Kafka at his best, for my money this knocks Zweig's Beware of Pity into a cocked hat! A depiction of a degenerate society at its last gasp surely also has strong parallels with the modern world.

By Joseph Roth, Joachim Neugroschel (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Radetzky March as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE RADETSKY MARCH is subtle and touching study of family life at the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Writing in the traditional form of the family saga, Roth nevertheless manages to bring to his story a completely individual manner which gives at the same time the detailed and intimate portrait of a life and the wider panorama of a failing dynasty. Not yet well known in English-speaking countries, Joseph Roth is one of the most distinguished Austrian writers of our century, worthy to be bracketed with Musil and Kraus.


Book cover of Ring of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary at War, 1914-1918

Peter H. Wilson Author Of Iron and Blood: A Military History of the German-Speaking Peoples since 1500

From my list on German military history saying something different.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been drawn to the history of the German lands ever since I opened a historical atlas as a child and wondered why the middle of Europe was a colorful patchwork compared to the solid blocks depicting other countries. I then wondered how the people living under this multitude of authorities could manage their affairs, resolve differences, and defend themselves against each other and outsiders. Digging deeper into these questions has unearthed fascinating stories, not all of them pleasant, but which also shed light on the complexities of our shared existence. 

Peter's book list on German military history saying something different

Peter H. Wilson Why did Peter love this book?

After 1918, many German and Austrian Habsburg officers blamed their defeat on being ‘stabbed in the back’ by civilian ‘shirkers’, leftists, and (in the Habsburg case) fractious nationalists.

Both states indeed failed to manage their home fronts but, as Alexander Watson shows in his compelling account of this titanic conflict, there were far more complex reasons for the war’s outcome, not least the willingness of the high command in both states to embark on a conflict they had no realistic chance of winning.

By Alexander Watson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Sunday Times History Book of the Year 2014

Winner of the 2014 Wolfson History Prize, the 2014 Guggenheim-Lehrman Prize in Military History, the Society for Military History's 2015 Distinguished Book Award and the 2015 British Army Military Book of the Year

For the empires of Germany and Austria-Hungary the Great War - which had begun with such high hopes for a fast, dramatic outcome - rapidly degenerated as invasions of both France and Serbia ended in catastrophe. For four years the fighting now turned into a siege on a quite monstrous scale. Europe became the focus of fighting of a…


Book cover of Frankreichs Außenpolitik in Der Julikrise 1914: Ein Beitrag Zur Geschichte Des Ausbruchs Des Ersten Weltkrieges

Terence Zuber Author Of The Real German War Plan, 1904-14

From my list on new revisionist military history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been interested in military history and wanted to become a professional soldier. I benefitted especially from three years as the American liaison officer on the staff of the German 12th Panzer Division. German Army organization, planning and decision-making, troop leadership, and training are outstanding and made a deep impression on me. I received a superb education as a historian at the University of Wuerzburg, Germany, which required history to be written from original source documents, not secondary sources uncritically accepted. My standards emphasize attention to detail in military planning and operations, and archival work in English, German, and French. As do the authors that I have selected.

Terence's book list on new revisionist military history

Terence Zuber Why did Terence love this book?

Conventional histories give the French a free pass concerning the causes of World War I: the French leadership is commonly described as being literally out-of-touch (on a battleship coming back to France). Schmidt’s brilliant archival research shows that the French were fully aware that the Austrians were going to issue an ultimatum to the Serbs and encouraged the Russians to support a Serb refusal and a Russian military attack on Austria. (My addendum: the French plan is a mirror image of the Russian plan – the French would tie down the Germans in the West and the Russians hordes would overwhelm the Germans in the East.)

By Stefan Schmidt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Frankreichs Außenpolitik in Der Julikrise 1914 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Auch wenn die Genese des Ersten Weltkriegs - der "Ur-Katastrophe" des 20. Jahrhunderts - als gründlich erforscht gilt, verzeichnet die Geschichte des Kriegsausbruchs immer noch Bereiche, deren Bearbeitung bislang vernachlässigt wurde. Zu ihnen gehört die französische Außenpolitik in der Julikrise 1914. Obwohl in der wissenschaftlichen Kontroverse der Zwischenkriegszeit kein Konsens über Motive und Absichten des "forgotten belligerent of July 1914" (John W. Langdon) gefunden werden konnte, sind dem Gegenstand nach 1945 nur wenige Untersuchungen gewidmet. In dieses bislang kaum beachtete Terrain stößt die Studie vor. Nicht zuletzt auf der Grundlage neuer Quellen entwirft sie im Gegensatz zur älteren Forschung von…


Book cover of Personal History

John Maxwell Hamilton Author Of Journalism's Roving Eye: A History of American Foreign Reporting

From my list on by foreign correspondents.

Why am I passionate about this?

A large part of my career has been devoted to foreign affairs. Edgar Snow, Negley Farson, and others whom I read as a young man kindled my interest. I have reported from overseas and at one point developed a specialty in reporting connections between American communities and events overseas. I have published a number of foreign correspondents’ memoirs that were buried in achieves or have been out-of-print and ignored. Most recently I wrote a history of foreign reporting. So, one can say that I have made a career of enjoying books like these. 

John's book list on by foreign correspondents

John Maxwell Hamilton Why did John love this book?

Vincent Sheean’s memoir, published in 1935, stands out because it established a genre of memoir writing by foreign correspondents and because of its high literacy value.

“It has now been 30 years or more since Vincent Sheean wrote his Personal History,” commented Saturday Review of Literature editor Norman Cousins commented years later. “Many of the foreign correspondents have tried to convey the same sense of an intimate, interactive relationship with events and people that gave such luster to Sheean’s book.”

Sheean’s still-young career had spanned the globe for Europe, to North Africa and the Middle East, to the 1920s revolution in China, to the Soviet Union. His story was about himself insofar as it described how the news felt to him.

The events he witnessed proved the most important of the period in which he lived. Sheean went on in a similar fashion after the book appeared, displaying almost…

By Vincent Sheean,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Very slightest of wear to the cover, pages nice and clean, no writing or highlighting. Slightly spotting on all edges. A very nice copy. All our books are individually inspected, rated and described. Never EX-LIB unless specifically listed as such.


Book cover of Time and Time Again

Trevor P. Kwain Author Of The Wynnman and the Black Azalea

From my list on turning history upside down.

Why am I passionate about this?

History is nearly always relegated to heavy tomes and stuffy museum rooms. Learning about our past seems no longer important, and we keep promoting it in such uncool and unsexy ways. I feel any of our histories, with either a capital or lower case ‘h’, whether focused on big world events or local life, deserve to be told in a special kind of way, with that sprinkle of “magic realism” only fiction authors can deliver. Alternative history, historical fiction, magic fabulism, they are the sides of the same dice creating new, different stories inspired by our collective memory of things that have happened. These books touch this topic so dear to me.

Trevor's book list on turning history upside down

Trevor P. Kwain Why did Trevor love this book?

Here we enter the topic of time travel, a concept very dear to me from both a fictional, moral, and scientific point of view. Many novels have attempted to show how one change in the past could change our future. Elton’s novel struck me for its originality in picking a notorious historical event largely ignored by fiction when it comes to time travel and alternate history. The assassination of the Franz Ferdinand of Austria is used not just as the spark of World War I but as the start of the ideological and warmongering terror that would spread through Europe. The novel is an example of man’s fixation with trying to find one cause for all problems when maybe there are multiple causes going back years and years. The search is as vain as the main character’s attempts to change history.

By Ben Elton,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Time and Time Again as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It's the 1st of June 1914 and Hugh Stanton, ex-soldier and celebrated adventurer is quite literally the loneliest man on earth. No one he has ever known or loved has been born yet. Perhaps now they never will be.

Stanton knows that a great and terrible war is coming. A collective suicidal madness that will destroy European civilization and bring misery to millions in the century to come. He knows this because, for him, that century is already history.

Somehow he must change that history. He must prevent the war. A war that will begin with a single bullet. But…


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