Author(s): Alexander Watson
This is Sunday Times History Book of the Year 2014. 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 kind previously unimagined. Despite local successes and an apparent triumph in Russia - Germany and Austria-Hungary were never able to break out of the Allies' ring of steel. In Alexander Watson's compelling new history of the Great War, all the major events of the war are seen from the perspective of Berlin and Vienna. It is fundamentally a history of ordinary people. In 1914 both empires were flooded by genuine mass enthusiasm and their troubled elites were at one with most of the population. But the course of the war put this under impossible strain, with a fatal rupture between an ever more extreme and unrealistic leadership and an exhausted and embittered people. In the end they failed and were overwhelmed by defeat and revolution.
An immensely authoritative new history of Germany and Austria-Hungary between 1914 and 1918. Watson writes fluently and compellingly, and his remarkable command of the sources offers new insight and information on almost every page. Soundly judged on the many controversial aspects of his topic, Watson is particularly ground-breaking in evoking the popular experience of the conflict and when investigating the atrocities that all too frequently were its accompaniment -- David Stevenson (author of 1914-1918)
Alexander Watson is Lecturer of History at Goldsmiths, University of London. He has been a Research Fellow at Clare Hall, Cambridge, a British Academy Postgraduate Fellow at the University of Cambridge and, from 2011-13, Marie Curie Inter-European Fellow at Warsaw University. His first book, Enduring the Great War, won the Fraenkel Prize.