At the end of WWI, Germany was demonised. The Treaty of Versailles contained a 'war guilt' clause pinning the blame on the aggression of Germany and accusing her of 'supreme offence against international morality'. Thirteen Days rejects this verdict. Clive Ponting has made a thorough study of the incredibly complex diplomatic documents. His interpretation also rejects the thesis that Europe in 1914 had reached such a boiling point that war was bound to erupt and the theory that the origins of the War lay in a mighty arms race. He argues that the War occurred primarily because of the situation in the Balkans, while he gives full weight to Austria-Hungary's desire to cripple Serbia instead of negotiating, and to Russia's militaristic programme of expansion. Clive Ponting begins with a dramatic recreation of the assassination in Sarajevo on 28 June. He then examines how things spiralled out of control during the weeks that led to war. The tension builds as his story criss-crosses the capital cities of Europe and describes developments day by day, and, latterly, hour by hour. The First World War destroyed the old Europe.
During four years of fighting nearly nine million soldiers were killed and twenty-one million wounded; over ten million civilians died. By the end of the War, three great European empires - Germany, Austria-Hungary and Russia - had disintegrated. Why did the War happen? In 1914, the states of Europe had been at peace for forty years, and every diplomatic dispute had been resolved peacefully. Thirteen Days describes failures of communication, fateful decisions and escalating military moves; it is an extraordinary narrative of personalities and diplomacy in the dying weeks of an era in which telephone networks were in their infancy and governments relied on telegrams in code and face-to-face meetings of ambassadors.
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(233mm x 153mm x 27mm)
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
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UK Kirkus Review »
The blame imposed by the Allied powers on Germany in 1919 not only led to the Second World War, but was fundamentally unjust, argues Clive Ponting in this examination of the days that led up to the start of war in 1914 - a war that nobody wanted. France and Britain were both at fault, but above all the nationalist movement in Serbia, the moribund empire of Austria-Hungary, and Russia's expansionist ideals in the Balkans were the chief culprits. This intensive study of that crucial fortnight puts events in an entirely different light. Even when war began, all sides showed reluctance to come out and actually fight. Countless millions died in the four miserable years that followed, years when tanks and poison gas both became weapons of war for the first time. They were also to prove the end of three immense empires: Germany, Russia and Austria-Hungary. Nine million fighting men lay dead at the end of it, and more than double that number of civilians. The world had never seen a self-inflicted disaster of that magnitude, and the immediate causes of this world-changing catastrophe - overwhelmed, as it has since become, by the hideous melodrama of the Second World War - have never been satisfactorily explained. But now, in a narrative that is nothing short of brilliant, the eminent historian Ponting examines and exposes the Gordian knot of aristocratic attitude, military posturing, ghastly mistakes and fatal misjudgments that led up to 'the war to end all wars'. Except that it wasn't. When it was all over, the French Premier Clemenceau prophetically observed: 'This is not peace, it is a twenty-year truce.' And how right he was. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Clive Ponting
Clive Ponting was a Reader in Politics at the University of Wales, Swansea and is a specialist in environmental politics, political and military history. He has written numerous books including the world-wide bestseller A Green History of the World; a highly controversial revisionist biography of Winston Churchill; Armageddon: The Second World War; The Pimlico History of the Twentieth Century; World History: A New Perspective and The Crimean War: The Truth behind the Myth.