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War Planning 1914

$113.00 (C)

Richard F. Hamilton, Günther Kronenbitter, Annika Mombauer, Bruce W. Menning, Robert Doughty, Keith Neilson, John Gooch, Holger H. Herwig
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  • Date Published: November 2009
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521110969
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About the Authors
  • The major European powers drafted war plans before 1914 and executed them in August 1914; none brought the expected victory by Christmas. Why? This tightly focused collection of essays by international experts in military history reassesses the war plans of 1914 in a broad diplomatic, military, and political setting for the first time in three decades. The book analyzes the war plans of Austria-Hungary, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, and Russia on the basis of the latest research and explores their demise in the opening months of World War I. Collectively and comparatively, these essays place contingency war planning before 1914 in the different contexts and challenges each state faced as well as into a broad European paradigm. This is the first such undertaking since Paul Kennedy’s groundbreaking War Plans of the Great Powers (1979), and the end result is breathtaking in both scope and depth of analysis.

    • The first analysis of the Plans of War 1914 in three decades
    • Chapter analyses of the major powers of 1914 by renowned international scholars
    • Includes maps and suggested reading
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "Richard Hamilton and Holger Herwig have turned conference papers into a work that now becomes the standard on war planning before the Great War." -Samuel R. Williamson, Jr., The Journal of Military History

    "This useful collection of essays explores 'war planning' in Europe before World War I." -Eric Dorn Brose, American Historical Review

    An important work for those interested in World War I, military institutions, and war planning, not to mention the course of the twentieth century." -A. A. Nofi,

    "The volume provides an excellent overview of the state of scholarship as well as a provocative focus on the decision-making process. Experts and students alike will benefit from reading it." -European History Quarterly

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    Customer reviews

    15th May 2014 by Robbo

    When war erupted in 1914, armies all across Europe swung into action within days. Reservists hurried to re-join the colours, and the railways burst into life carrying troops to pre-arranged concentration points in a race to gain an advantage of days over their foes. For example, the German Great General Staff planned the movement of 11,000 trains to mobilise its army, and between 2 and 18 August no less than 2,150 trains, or roughly 126 trains per day, crossed the Hohenzollern Bridge over the Rhine alone. This massive movement of men and material from Russia in the east, to France in the west was the culmination of years of planning by respective military staffs. Germany’s Schlieffen Plan, as modified by Moltke the Younger, is well known, but few would know those of the other major European belligerents. War Planning, 1914 fills this gap. The great virtue of this book is that the plans of six of the major European nations that became embroiled in the war, are succinctly covered in one volume. However, this is more than simply a discussion of war plans. Its focus, as the editors and authors are at pains to emphasize, is on the planning. More particularly they address the influences, internal and external, that affected the outcome of the plans the armies went to war with, followed, in most chapters, by an examination of their execution when the dice was finally rolled. Presented by experienced historians, each covering one of the combatant nations, they provide an evaluation of what drove the military planners of Austria-Hungary, Germany, Russia, France, and Great Britain to unleash their armies in the way they did, and for Italy to address the conundrum of planning to fight on the side of an ally they distrusted, and eventually went to war against. Most are covered in roughly 30 pages, except for the very comprehensive discussion of Russia’s dilemma and machinations, resulting in an unsatisfactory compromise, which is twice the length of its companions. Richard Hamilton’s Introduction, which provides a telling comparison between theory and reality, and Holger Herwig’s Conclusion, which draws out the key themes emerging from the discussions, top and tail this valuable little book. It provides an keen insight into the peculiarities of each bureaucracy, and the pressures they faced in planning for war, together with the plans with which the major European players embarked on the the great catastrophe. Perhaps the greatest insight is the differing internal influences, and positions within the bureaucracy of the respective war planners, together the almost complete lack of coordination within governments across all six nations. A telling by-product that emerges, is that we learn something of the character of Europe a century ago. The one thing that seems to have driven the continental participants to plan so assiduously for war, and to embark on it without consideration of its consequences, was a fear of each other - that it was the other nation which would attack them, which in the end became a self fulfilling prophecy. Driven by this fear was the urgency of time, to get in first an urgency that drove the mobilization of the armies and the desire to snatch a march on their opponents, and precluded calm and considered consideration of a crisis that got out of hand. While Germany has generally shouldered the blame for starting a war that should never have erupted, after reading this book one can only conclude she was not alone. A great addition to our knowledge of what drove the major European nations to go to war with each other, without any clear war aims - or need to.

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2009
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521110969
    • length: 280 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.58kg
    • contains: 6 b/w illus. 6 maps
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. War plans: obvious needs, not so obvious solutions Richard F. Hamilton
    2. Austria-Hungary Günther Kronenbitter
    3. Germany Annika Mombauer
    4. Russia Bruce W. Menning
    5. French war plans 1914 - the 'Balance of Power Paradox' Robert Doughty
    6. British plans for war before 1914 Keith Neilson
    7. The uncertain partner: Italy and the war plans of the Triplice 1888–1914 John Gooch
    8. Conclusions Holger H. Herwig.

  • Editors

    Richard F. Hamilton, Ohio State University
    Richard F. Hamilton is Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University. He is the author of President McKinley and the Coming of War, 1898; President McKinley and America's 'New Empire'; and The Origins of World War I.

    Holger H. Herwig, University of Calgary
    Holger H. Herwig is Canada Research Chair in Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary. He is the author of The First World War: Germany and Austria-Hungary 1914–1918, War Memory and Popular Culture, The Origins of World War I, and The Marne: 1914 (2012).


    Richard F. Hamilton, Günther Kronenbitter, Annika Mombauer, Bruce W. Menning, Robert Doughty, Keith Neilson, John Gooch, Holger H. Herwig

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