Students and general readers alike remain strongly interested in the causes, events and consequences of the First World War. The conflict is rightly seen as one of the major events—if not THE major event—which shaped the subsequent course of the 20th century not just in Europe but also in the wider world. Because its consequences were so profound, there is an enduring interest in how the conflict started and whether it could have been avoided.
The aim of this revised edition, therefore, is to guide students and general readers through the daunting collections of books and documents which continue to pour out in ever greater quantities on this topic. It is written in particular for those who have only a basic general knowledge of the diplomacy and crises of the early 20th century and who want to acquire a clearer overview of the major conflicts and sources of tension dividing Europe after 1900 and of why they resulted in the outbreak of war in August 1914.
The book is divided into two main sections. The first chapter examines the consequences of German unification after 1871 and the challenges which growing German economic and military power posed to the other great powers of Europe by 1900. It looks in particular at the diplomatic and military responses of France, Russia and Britain and at the formation of the Triple Entente which had