Dr. Robert Waite/Washington: "the dangerous and menacing war psychology of hatred and myth". American Historians and the Outbreak of the First World War 1914. An Overview.
(A speech at the international colloquium on 06/11/2014 concerning the beginning of the First World War 100 years ago)

"Already we are seeing the first trickle of articles and books that will reach a flood by summer noting the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I," observed Steven F. Hayward, an American journalist writing in the January 2014 issue of Forbes magazine.1 Historians, popular writers, journalists, and television producersareall contributing to the current look-back at the summer of 1914 when Europe went to war. Hayward sees this body of work as falling into two broad categories. First, what he terms "the never-ending historical argument over causation of the catastrophe," namely the issue of responsibility. Secondly, those who ponder the question could today’s world stumble into a similar conflagration. Already before the U.S. entered the war in 1917 American historians have attempted to analyze the causes, to identify who or what was responsible, and they often sought contemporary lessons or warnings. The quantity of this work is staggering. "Since its outbreak, there has been a veritable tide of publications," Jay Winter, a historian at Yale University, commented back in 2005. Despite the outpouring of works on the World War, Winter added, "we still lack a general analysis of the ways in which this history has been written." To no small degree, the sheer number of titles on the outbreak of the war makes that task daunting.A recent on-line search in World Cat for "World War, 1914, origins" turned up 37,177 titles.2
And the number of articles and books continues to mount. "With four months to go before the centenary of the of the start of the first world war, the bombardment of new books by historians is growing heavier," wrote a journalist recently in the British news magazine The Economist. "Unlike many of the young men who went off to fight in 1914, nobody thinks it will be over by Christmas."3 In each of the nations involved the Great War is getting renewed attention and the flavor of these accounts is to a large degree shaped by the individual country’s own experiences and encounters with the war. Each has a distinct point of view. America is no different. The writings of American historians and journalists have been shaped by the nation’s encounter with the war and its aftermath. Throughout the past century many of the American scholars who have looked at the start of the conflict that did most to shape the 20th century found contemporary lessons in the tensions that led Europe to a massive conflagration. Even today, many continue to search the origins and the outbreak of World War I for such lessons.

Over the decades, the writings of American historians on the outbreak of war in 1914, often shaped by contemporary issues, fall into several categories. Initially, many viewed Germany solely responsible for the war, a view that held credibility for only several years, roughly from the outbreak of armed conflict thru the mid-1920s. Then there were the historians who saw the war the result of miscalculation, honest errors in judgment by European rulers and governments that led to war. No single nation, they argued in the late 1920s and early 1930s, could be held responsible, no country should bear the mantel of guilt. From the late 1930s to the 1950s historians focused on other issues, other aspects of international tensions and conflicts, as their nations faced an increasingly tense and polarized Europe. In later years following the end of the Second World War, historians placed more weight on domestic pressures, especially the fears among the elite of such developments as women’s liberation and the rise of working class, social and political changes which they saw as threatening to undermine the established order. War was, some historians have argued, seen as a release, an escape valve for societal pressures, a means to thwart change, a way for the old elite to hold on to its position of dominance. A few historians have maintained that the drive for war was also spurred by public opinion, a rabid nationalism that spread among the population. More recently, scholars have looked at societal changes from a different perspective. Also, a growing number of books have been published arguing once more that the political elite in the belligerent nations must be held accountable for the decisions leading to war. The writings of American historians, political scientists, and journalists on the origins of the war are so vast that only a rough over-view is possible. What follows is a broad and by no means comprehensive review of this literature.

Already before the American entry into the conflict in April 1917 scholars began to look more closely at the origins of the war that broke out in August 1914 in western Europe. Historians and political analysts wrote articles, sometimes lengthy studies, for magazines and newspapers, and a number of books on the origins of the war began to appearin 1914.During the first year of the conflict John Jay Chapman, a prominent essayist, asked, "When the war is over the world will ask, what was it about? What caused it?" To answer these questions he collected "the utterances of representative Germans – statesmen, military leaders, scholars, and poets in defense of the war policies of the Fatherland." Chapman’s volume, titled Deutschland ?ber Alles or Germany Speaks was published in 1914.Like many other American observers during the first year of the war, Chapman was, as the title of his book makes clear, a harsh critic of Germany.4 Already in his introductory remarks he voiced his harsh view of Germans and Germany. "This war was inevitable," Chapman wrote. "The war is the flaming forth of passions that have been covertly burning in Germany for several decades. Of recent years, one could hardly [know] any German family intimately without feeling in their pulses the war fever." Germany, he concluded, had launched a "war for domination."5 During the early years of the conflict a number of pamphlets and brochures examining its origins were published and most were very critical of Germany. Charles W. Eliot, former president of Harvard University, was one of many who lectured and wrote on the war. As Eliot explained in an October 1914 address, "the cause in which Germany and Austria-Hungary are fighting is the cause of militarism, of imperialism, of governments by force, using against other nations the extreme of skillfullydirected, highly trained force."6
A year later, Gilbert Parker published a 408 page study entitled The World in the Crucible. An Account of the Origins and Conduct of the World War. 7 The very first paragraph makes clear his point of view when he wrote that Sarajevo was "in no real sense the cause of the real war now devastating Europe." Rather, he stated, it was Germany’s "designs of aggression" that aimed to compensate for that nation’s historic failures to create an empire. He went on to criticize vigorously its political leaders and its people who, Parker stated, lack "vision and understanding," whose "values are distorted by an egoism."8 His book is a lengthy tirade against Germany and its role in the war. Parker concludes with a long attack on German conduct, its "ambition and aggression" that "break every rule of man; every law of honour [sic] and humanity fettering them…these are the crimes which torment the world into a long and deep resentment."9
Other wartime books were less critical of Germany and the authors found the sources of conflict other than German "egoism" or imperialist ambitions. The collection of essays in The Problems and Lessons of the War, published in 1916, were decidedly moderate in tone and judgments. They ranged over a variety of topics, and included the essential chapter on German militarism.10 Frederic C. Howe in his 1916 book Why War blamed "the new economic and financial forces set in motion in the closing years of the last century."11 Recent wars and the present conflict, he wrote, were "primarily the result of the conflict of powerful economic interests radiating out from the capitals of Europe." His text on the war’s origins and his study of the post-war settlement were also warnings to the American public of dangers facing them.12
Tirades against Germany continued, however, through the end of the conflict. For example, Lindsay Rogers wrote in his 1917 book America’s Case Against Germany: "No war in which the United States has ever engaged has had greater justification than the one recognized on April 6, 1917." The cause of the war, Rogers added, was that "Germany had wantonly violated international law." William Guitteau, an educator in the Toledo, Ohio, school system,stated in his text, a short book written for high school pupils,that the war stemmed from "Germany’s dream of world empire." He asserted that "the military party which rules Germany had for many years planned an aggressive war which should give Germany her place as the foremost world power." Wilbur F. Gordy, the author of more than 10 popular histories, also held Germany and Austria-Hungary for the war that broke out in 1914.13 Such texts, brochures and books, were common and widely read in America. These works, plus the newspaper coverage, firmly planted in the minds of most citizens the idea that Germany bore the responsibility for having precipitated the great conflagration that only ended after American intervention.

Following the end of the conflict much of the discussion of war-origins was tied in closely to the assignment of responsibilityfor having sparked the conflict, an issue integrally tied into the question of war guilt and the notorious Paragraph 231 of the Versailles Treaty. Once more, the blame was often placed upon Germany. In the 1920s, however, some American scholars began to challenge that presumption. A critical discussion within the historical profession on the origins of the war began and the intensity grew as the various belligerent nations published lengthy volumes of pre-war diplomatic correspondence. Already in the July 1920 issue of the respected American Historical Review, the journal of the American Historical Association, the prominent diplomatic historian Professor Sydney B. Fay of Harvard University published the first of a three-part essay entitled "New Light on Origins of World War I." This was among the earliest publications in the United States to use newly available documentation on the diplomacy leading up to the war.14 Fay began his essay by explaining to his fellow historians the intrigue behind the publication of Karl Kautsky’s collection of German documents on the origins of the war. Kautsky was assigned already in late 1918 to assemble relevant documents, materials during the negotiations of a peace treaty in Versailles in order, Fay wrote, "to convince the world how completely the new regime had broken with old Junker rulers of 1914." Publication was, however, delayed. When the volumes did appear – an English translation of the German original followed in 1924 – they provided considerable insight into the decisions that led to war. As Fay observed, the collection "now makes it possible to know just how much an official knew when he took an action; it enables one to judge with nicety as to the motives, honesty, and ability of the men in charge of Germany in 1914."15 Fay noted that a range of other sources had become available, namely a similar collection of documents from the Austrian regime and a number of memoirs and pamphlets that followed the collapse in 1918. Based on these new sources Fay, and, now, a number of other American historians, delved deeply into the origins of the war.16
In the three part series, Fay took readers through the diplomatic intricacies from the assassination of the Austrian arch-duke to the outbreak of conflict and he clearly revealed in the detail. Fay concluded from the documents that Austria bore much more of the responsibility for the outbreak of war and that the German government "neither plotted nor wanted the war."17 He was among the first to argue that Germany had blundered into war, a major revision of the prevailing assumptions, one that was to have long-term implications. Nevertheless, that nation was, he wrote, "responsible for her negligence in giving Austria a free hand on July 5, and not attempting earlier and more vigorously to reassert her control at Vienna. She is responsible—and here the responsibility rests especially on the Kaiser—in deliberately blocking several peace proposals which, though they might have turned to the disadvantage of Austria, and to the diminution of her own prestige, would have been nothing as compared to what was to take place."18 Fay laid much of the blame on militarism, the target of war-time criticism, for the conflict. And he did not shy from assigning responsibility for the overall climate of militarism that he saw prevailing in Europe and particularly in Germany. As he wrote, "militarism was one of the great causes of the war. It was militarism which was largely responsible for the campaign of lies and national hatred in the jingo press of Continental Europe which had been poisoning public opinion for years." When a crisis did arise, this public opinion, he wrote, played a significant role in shaping diplomacy. This argument, that public opinion sharpened by a widespread militarism, became the focus of a later generation of American historians.19
Fay concluded the second of his articles by writing, "for the growth of militarism in Europe, no country was so much responsible as Germany."20 The third in his series dealt with Russia and the other European powers. Fay detailed the discussions and negotiations between Russia, England and France, and especially the Russian decision to mobilize its troops. Much of the third article focused on Russia.21 Fay noted that since the end of the war "relatively little material" had appeared that shed light on the role played by England and France in the crisis following the assassination.22 Underlying his long analysis of the mounting crisis that led to the conflict was the theme that militarism and the rigid diplomatic system did much to steer Europe down the path to war. Criticism of the European diplomatic network of treaties, especially the secret clauses and the inflexibility of international relations were common themes in American historical writings since 1914. As Charles Seymour wrote in his 1922 review of two collections of diplomatic records from Russia, France and England, while the documents "tend to acquit the Entente of aggressive intentions, they point the danger and the stupidity of the complex system of alliance in which before the war all European statesmen were caught."23 Much as critics wrote in 1914, it was the European system of alliances, the archaic diplomatic structure, that bore much of the responsibility for the war.
The wave of publication of diplomatic records from the archives of the various belligerents in the early 1920s sparked a great deal of writing on the origins of the war. Much of this addressed directly the war guilt issue as historians sought to clarify the question of responsibility. A number of prominent historians, in addition to Sydney B. Fay, made quick use of the collections and published articles and before long books on the topic appeared. Some historians, though, urged caution when using the official records and a session at the 1922 annual meeting of the American Historical Association addressed this issue. Wayne E. Stevens of Dartmouth College led the discussion on the "critical problems involved in the use of the official records of that war, problems of both internal and external criticism, attended by difficulties arising out of the enormous volume and varied character of the material, the multitude of inaccurate and inauthentic versions ofdocuments, the haste with which the documents were prepared, their technical language, and the various factors of human and military fallibility." 24
The published collections of diplomatic records, in spite of criticism and their obvious short comings, continued to form the basis of historical research and publication through the 1920s among scholars in the United States. The causes of the World War, as the conflict became known as, remained a topic of intense interest and widespread debate. In April 1926 two of the leading American scholars on the issue of European diplomacy and the outbreak of war met at a session of the prestigious Chicago Council on Foreign Relations. The group had long "looked forward to the time when the question of the origin of the Great War could be discussed before it in a spirit of detachment, and with a definite constructive purpose," the Council’s Chairman, William P. Sidley, explained to those attending the luncheon meeting.25 Only now could such a discussion be held, Sidley asserted. It had not been possible during the conflict "because of the hatreds and the bitterness that the war engendered," he explained. Nor was such a discussion feasible in the months immediately following the armistice "when diplomats representing the various nations were struggling with questions of guilt and indemnity and reparations."26
First to address the audience in Chicago was the distinguished professor and young activist Harry Elmer Barnes. Clearly enthused by the release and publication of much of the diplomatic correspondence that preceded the outbreak of war, Barnes stated: "For the first time in the history of mankind the generation that lived through a great war had been enabled to obtain the information upon which may be based a definite knowledge of the causes and responsibility for that war." Prior to this era, the states had kept the records of the foreign office, the diplomatic correspondence, secret. Now, however, the overthrow of the monarchial regimes in several of the principle belligerents ushered in new forms of government. Keen to show their break with the past, "to make their status and power more permanent in every possible way," the new leadership released materials "discrediting the previous regimes." Barnes saw "the opening of the secrets of the foreign offices in Germany, Austria and Russia, and the subsequent publication of the relevant documents under competent editorship" as a means of "discrediting them," by showing "that the older governments were responsible for the tragedies and miseries incident to the World War."27
Barnes was thrilled by the availability of the diplomatic correspondence. Not only did it aid scholars, it also changed widely held points of view. As he explained: "the revolutionary transformation of the attitude of scholars toward the responsibility for the World War has not in any sense been due to a mere swinging of the psychological pendulum away from the ardent hatred of Germany during the World War, or to the progress of German propaganda since 1918, but has inevitably grown out of the fact that today we have real knowledge of the circumstances, while from 1914-1918 we were guided solely by the propaganda of the governments which closely guarded the secrets with respect to the actual responsibility for the great calamity."28 Now, Barnes enthused, the documentation central to understanding the outbreak of the war was available to everyone. "Practically all the source material has at the present time been published in English or in excellent English translations, and any industrious person could easily read it all through and digest it within three weeks if adequately orientated in modern diplomatic history," he insisted. Barnes was especially eager for scholars to review and to use these records in their publications. "If scholars were not to exploit this unique opportunity to destroy the dangerous and menacing war psychology of hatred and myth and supplant it by the solid and substantial body of fact and understanding which is now at our disposal," it would, he asserted, "be a crime of omission of the first magnitude."29 The issuance of the volumes of diplomatic records, their publication in English, did attract the attention of a number of scholars during the 1920s whoused them in many of their publication and the renewed debate over war origins and responsibility.30
An early proponent of the thesis that the war was an accident, that the belligerents had blundered into it, Barnes saw Europe’s diplomatic system in the decades after 1870 as inherently flawed. "Based as it was upon nationalism, militarism, secret alliances, and imperialistic aims [the international system] naturally inclined Europe toward war." But such a situation had, he argued, existed for many years before the outbreak of war. "The system does not, however, explain why war came in 1914, as the same general European situation had been prevailing for many years prior to that time." To explain why war came in 1914, Barnes turned to the newly published documentation. In his Chicago address, Barnes summarized the diplomatic events that led to the conflict, describing the reactions of each nation to the mounting crisis.31
The most prominent "revisionist" historian of the day, Barnes concluded thusly: "In estimating the order of guilt of the various countries we may safely say that the only direct and immediate responsibility for the World War falls upon France and Russia, with the guilt about equally distributed." Going down the row and assigning guilt, Barnes stated that next, and "far below France and Russia," came Austria, "for she never desired a general European war in 1914." Lastly, he viewed German and England as having both been "opposed to war in the 1914 crisis." Barnes was very aware of the implications of his forceful argument. Not only was this all of interest to historians, curious about the war’s origins, but more importantly the "bearing which these facts have on public opinion and international policy at the present time." Barnes insisted that "the prevailing European international policy," the post-war settlement, based as it was on "the assumption of unique German responsibility for the war," was thereby repudiated. The current policy, the assignment of guilt to Germany, the notion of reparations, was, he argued, based on "the assumption of the complete and unique responsibility of Germany for the origin of the World War and the misery, suffering and economic losses which it entailed." The documentation, Barnes firmly believed, called for "the adoption of a fair and constructive policy." He concluded by telling the audience in Chicago: "If the foregoing restatement and reinterpretation of the issues and problems in war guilt are correct, it will be necessary to reconstruct our whole orientation with regard to the causes of the World War and the present international issues which are intimately related to that matter." 32
In his response, Bernadotte E. Schmitt, a distinguished diplomatic historian and professor at the University of Chicago, largely agreed with Barnes, thereby showing the emerging consensus among leading American scholars on the responsibility for the outbreak of war. Schmitt also saw the European diplomatic scene in 1914 as fundamentally flawed and structured in such a way as to lead to a broad conflagration. As he explained: "In 1914 Europe was divided into two groups of three powers each, each armed to the teeth." The political and military leaders in each nation, Schmitt added, "were confident of victory if war came, and the Austrian staff was ready to take the risk. The politicians in each country were perfectly ready to accept the European war, if that were necessary to prevent the rival diplomatic group from gaining some overwhelming advantage."33 Schmitt concluded his brief presentation by stating: "I consider all the powers in greater or less degree responsible for the war." Furthermore, "the war was produced by the conflict of the idea of nationality with old established frontiers, by competing alliances, and by bloated armaments."34
Several scholars writing in the 1920s were torn by the "desire to be a dispassionate scholar and...[the] inclination toward passionate involvement in public affairs," wrote Thomas C. Kennedy in his biography of Charles A. Beard, who, like Harry Elmer Barnes, was a young historian who challenged the widely held views of the past.35 Beard concluded already in 1916 that "the most terrible and destructive war in the history of Europe...came as a horrible surprise." While "the exact of the causes of the Great European War are of disupte," Beard and his collaborator James Harvey Robinson viewed such matters as the armaments race, the tangled alliance system, imperialim and the economic forces that propelled the nations to compete for colonies as the crucial factors. Nevertheless, they laid much of the blame for the outbreak of war on Germany and its allies.36

The late 1920s saw several major and lengthy books appear on the origins of the war, works that continue to be read. Much of the new writings were based on the document collections published by the governments of the belligerent nations. The four volumes of German records edited by Karl Kautsky came out in 1919/1920,as noted above, and an English translation became available in 1924. American scholars did not need to wait for the translation of that series. Sydney B. Fay wrote a review for the April 1923 issue of the influential American Historical Reviewof the recently published Die Grosse Politik der Europaischen Kabinette, 1871-1914. As Fay observed, the German government wanted to offer more than the diplomatic records for the 1914 crisis and in this six volume collection published "all the important documents in the German Foreign Office."37 This, the first installment of a long commitment to making the documentation available, went only to 1890 and six more volumes were expected in 1923. Fay was clearly impressed, and he wrote that the publication of "diplomatic secrets which have usually been so jealously guarded in the archives is almost unique in history." The aim of "this mine of information," Fay explained in his review, "is to allow the impartial historian to see what really happened, and to be in a better position to reach a reach a conclusion as to the underlying responsibility for the war." Fay called this "a courageous and most praiseworthy decision."38 The materials now published dealt with the years of Bismarck’s domination of foreign policy and Fay clearly admired his handling of foreign affairs. As Fay wrote, "He did not look for trouble," suggesting that the successors had much less finesse in these matters. "In contrast to his imperial master after 1890, his policy was to avoid interference with the ambitions of other countries except when real German interests or the peace of Europe was threatened."39
Popular among readers in America was the seven volume Great Events of the Great War, a collection of materials aimed at the general public. Edited by Charles F. Horne and published in New York, the series, Horne wrote, was "an earnest effort to give the reader, in practical form, such frank and full information as will enable him to comprehend clearly this greatest of all wars."40 Each volume opened with an "Outline Narrative," an interpretive text setting the context for the documents and accounts by participants that followed. This was an ambitious effort to provide the reading public with original materials. "Neither you nor I nor any man has the right to-day to express doubt as to the true origin of the Great War," the series’ editor wrote in his introduction to the first volume How the War Arose. For Horne the war could not have been prevented. It came from the "inevitable" clash between what he termed "the German character of strength and patience, of selfish caution in adversity, and vain and reckless arrogance in power." Opposing this "glowed the sunlight of democratic civilization, which encourages all peoples to aspire toward equality, and to prefer death to slavery. Given these opposing forces, and their clash was inevitable."41 Horne was vehemently anti-German.
In a similar vein was John S. Ewart’s massive two volume study entitled The Roots and Causes of the War, published in 1925. Before he began a discussion of the background to the conflict, Ewart has 13 pages listing and identifying prominent individuals and another nine pages of just abbreviations, thereby establishing a sort of scholarly legitimacy, a way of showing immediately the depth and breadth of his research. The first volume, 676 pages long, addressed largely the question why the individual belligerents became involved in the war, with lengthy chapters on each nation. Early in the text Ewartlooked at the origins of the conflict and summarized his conclusion: "It is impossible to declare that…any particular nation was alone to blame."42
Attracting considerably more scholarly attention and even interest among the general public than the book by Ewart were the lengthy studies published by Henry Elmer Barnes, Bernadette Schmitt, and Sidney B. Fay, three of the most prominent historians of the day. Their texts, published in the latter years of the decade, were influential and they represent the major trends in American historiography during the 1920s. Fay’s work has remained in print and is still widely read. It continues to be hailed as the classic account of the origins of the First World War. The work of these three historians also represented a decided shift toward the reassessment of issue of Germany’s "war guilt," a matter that seriously affected post-war relations and political life. Now, with the release of diplomatic documents and with a bit of distance to the heightened sentiment of the war and immediate post-war era, these historians challenged the widely accepted conclusions. Barnes, who held positions as a number of universities, was one of the most out spoken and prolific "revisionist" of the day.43
His was the first book to appear, a 754 page study entitled The Genesis of the World War: An Introduction to the Problem of War Guilt.44 As the title clearly implies, Barnes took issue with the idea that guilt could be assigned to a single nation, a fundamental belief of the post-war diplomatic settlement. Barnes was among the first to challenge this view and he did so forcefully. A young historian – Barnes was 39 years old when this book was published—he made his intentions clear at the very start of the text. Based largely on the documents published since 1917, the purpose of the book, he wrote, was "to create a general conviction that there is here a major international problem, the nature and importance of which are scarcely realized by even the average educated American." Barnes was driven by the firm belief that "the truth about the causes of the World War is one of the livest and most important practical issues of the present day." He saw the issue as "basic in the whole matter of the present European and world situation, resting as this does upon an unfair and unjust Peace Treaty, which was itself erected upon a most uncritical and complete acceptance of the grossest forms of war-time illusions concerning war guilt."45
Barnes had already been widely attacked for his revisionist stand on the origins of the war and he dedicated the book to those American editors "whose courage and public spirit in opening their columns to a discussion of the causes of the World War have been primarily responsible for such progress as has been made in dispelling war-time illusions and laying the basis for an intelligent approach to contemporary international problems." 46 Barnes, described later as "the most controversial historian and publicist of his time," was criticized sharply in the press and in professional journals by other historians. He defended himself in part by writing that he was neither "pro-German" nor did he have "any traces of German ancestry." The motivations came, he wrote, from "a hatred of war" and his firm belief that "the World War was unquestionably the greatest crime against humanity and decency."47
Decidedly anti-war, Barnes argued that "There can be no hope of ending war unless we understand thoroughly the basic and complex forces which lead mankind to continue this savage and archaic method of handling the relations between states." He began his long book with a chapter on "The Basic Causes of Wars," and discussed the biological, psychological, sociological, economic as well as political factors that played roles. Barnes then proceeded to an examination of the broader developments in European political and diplomatic life in the since 1870. The bulk of the book focuses on those specific events, those specific players instrumental in leading Europe to war in 1914 and continues through the entry of the US. Not just content with presenting his view of the events, Barnes devoted the last 100 pages to chapters on "The Progress of the Revisionist Viewpoint," "Liquidating War Time Illusions," and "The Literature of War Guilt." Barnes’ work was largely shaped by the contemporary problems of war and peace and especially by the so-called war guilt clause, paragraph 231, of the Versailles peace treaty. His was historical writing as political agitation.48
Just several years after the publication of Barnes’ lengthy study, Harvard University professor and one of the most respected diplomatic historians Sidney B. Fay published his two volume work entitled simply The Origins of the World War, a work that he continued to update as more documentation became available.49 Fay made clear in the opening lines of the book that he did not share the view that Germany bore sole responsibility for the war. "When the World War suddenly set Europe aflame and American public opinion, soon under the influence of propaganda and war prejudice, began to denounce Germany and the Kaiser as being guilty of causing it, the present writer refused to join the chorus," he wrote. Only following the war, with the publication of diplomatic records by the new socialist governments of Germany and Austria, he added, did it seem possible to reach "at last some tentative opinion about the immediate causes of the war."50
Aware of the controversy swirling about the nature of Germany’s war guilt, Fay wrote he had "no political motive, either to justify the Treaty of Versailles or to demand its revision but simply to carry out what a great master has defined as the proper task of the historian – to tell how it really came about."51 Fay began with a lengthy chapter on the "Immediate and Underlying Causes" of the war. Much of the first volume that follows chronicles the system of alliances. The second volume starts with several chapters on the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The largest part deals with the diplomatic intrigue that lend to mobilization and open warfare. Fay concluded that "None of the Powers wanted a European War." While each nation saw clear advantages to be gained from a victorious conflict, that led the various leaders to strive and intrigue for war, "there is no good proof that any of the statesmen mentioned deliberately aimed to bring about a war to secure these advantages," he wrote. Furthermore, even though from the moment war was declared "it was hailed with varying demonstrations of enthusiasm on the part of the people in every country….this does not mean that the peoples wanted war or exerted a decisive influence to bring it about." In spite of these factors, war did break out, because, Fay wrote, "in each country political and military leaders did certain things, which led to mobilization and declarations of war, or failed to do certain things which might have prevented them."52 For Sydney Fay the detailed study of the origins of the World War meant that the war-guilt clause was "historically unsound," and that it "should therefore be revised." Viewing the depth and breath of public sentiment and political commitment to the matter of reparations and guilt, Fay called upon "historical scholars" to take the lead, to further investigate the issue, to publish their findings, and through them to mold public opinion.53
Other, mostly shorter studies of the origins of the World War were published in the late 1920s as historians and political scientists wrote texts aimed at college students. Olin Morrison, a professor of history at Ohio University, chose a decidedly middle path in his book, The Origins of the World War.54 "The immediate origins of the World War cannot yet be discussed in finality in all their details," he cautioned his readers. "Scholars came to the realization that [the] origins were larger than individuals, that all powers were more or less responsible, that the responsibility might not have been voluntary, that the War may have been caused by the international system prevailing." For the "remote origins" Morrison turned to the network of treaties, alliances and agreements that seemed to have provided for a balance of power, an equilibrium that ensured peace. The spark that shattered the European diplomatic system was the assassination of the Austrian archduke which grew out of the struggle between Austria-Hungary and Serbia for control of the Balkans. Morrison concludes his book with a sampling of questions for students.55
The emphasis on pre-war diplomacy also came from a political scientist at Columbia University. L.W. Cramer’s The Diplomatic Background of the World War was published in 1929.56 This short book rested heavily upon the work done by Sidney B. Fay, as he readily acknowledged. He described his text as a "summary of current research." The 132 page book focused exclusively on diplomacy, on the system of "secret alliances" and other agreements. Cramer viewed the assassination on June 28, 1914, as the "immediate cause" of war and he went on to describe the "underlying causes," namely the "complex of secret alliances, nationalism, imperialism and militarism," but gave them not further attention. Cramer lays the blame for the outbreak of war upon the rigid diplomatic system that prevailed in Europe that maintained the "Balance of Power." And he is careful to state that scholars are "not able to assign responsibility." As Cramer put it, "the responsibility must be shared by all the powers in question. Only a casual survey…indicates that fact." The decision for war, he wrote, came from "Honest men…, patriotic men, responsible for the safety of their countries."57
Before the decade had passed, anotherhistorian completed a lengthy study on the origins of the war, another study that directly addressed the issue of responsibility. The second and final volume ofThe Coming of the War 1914 by University of Chicago professor Bernadotte E. Schmitt appeared in 1930.58 A highly respected scholar, Schmitt devoted the first volume to the diplomatic events in Europe up to the assassination of the Austrian archduke. The second volume, 515 pages in length, traced in depth the events that followed. Schmitt viewed the crisis of July 1914 as the "most momentous event in the history of Europe since the Congress of Vienna a century before." That the crisis culminated in war, he wrote "was partly because no diplomacy, however skillful, could have devised a compromise" between the "firm resolution" of Austria-Hungary and Russia. "As a matter of fact, much of the diplomacy exhibited was far from skillful," he added. Each power, its diplomatic, political and military leadership, had blundered. But, Schmitt added, "in spite of all their failings, however, the diplomatists were not solely to blame for the failure to preserve peace. Back of them stood the public opinion of their respective countries which, as reflected in newspapers, urged a resolute stand and opposed concessions which might avert war." This intense nationalism, the broad sentiment that "the future…was at stake, that the nation which did not play its part would be outdistanced in the eternal competition of peoples, and that any sacrifice must be borne to insure the continuance of historic traditions," bore much of the responsibility that drove the nations to war.59

Throughout the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s a handful of publications appeared in the United States on the origins and the outbreak of the World War as interests had shifted. A review of the annual volumes of the exhaustive bibliography Writings of American History, prepared and published annually by the American Historical Association, show a paucity of articles.60 Even as historians and political scientists looked at the more recent political developments in Europe, studies of the origins and outbreak of the World War continued to be published. These, however, tended to focus on America’s entry into the war. In 1936 Newton Baker’s Why We Went to War was published, a short book that the publishers insisted was "the definitive study of matters long in conflict." Reviewers were not so certain; one critic found the work laced with factual errors and based on limited sources.61 Baker, the Secretary of War under President Wilson, wrote the book in response to the critics of Wilson’s decision to lead this nation into war. Another account came in 1937, when Samuel Taylor Moore, a journalist, wrote for the popular audience a study, published his America and the World War. This 309 page narrative – it has no footnotes or bibliography – dealt almost exclusively with America’s involvement in the World War, its entry, its combat forces, and experiences. Moore addressed only in passing the outbreak of war in 1914. The most he wrote about pre-war Germany and its leadership was that "the Kaiser and Imperial Germany was not so evil a thing as Hitler and Nazi Germany."62 During the 1930s the attention of scholars in the United States was much more on contemporary events than the First World War.
Except for these studies, most American historians, particularly those specializing in diplomatic affairs, long the most active in researching the start of war in 1914, focused on recent issues, recent debates. Much of the literature from these years dealt with broader issues,more urgent questions such as was to be found in Imperial Germany the basis for democracy in Germany or Nazism. In a lengthy review essay published in 1959, John L. Snell, professor of history at Tulane University, surveyed the post-1945 writings on what he termed "Imperial Germany’s Tragic Era, 1888-1918." He raised the key question in the subtitle of the article,"Threshold to Democracy or Foreground of Nazism?"63 Snell’s focus, as the title of the articles makes clear, was how the years of William II’s rule shaped German political development following the World War, a topic he acknowledged that had long been discussed in the historical writings. Snelldiscussed in his review the "harbingers of Nazism in the Wilhelmian era" and the impact of the war. The tensions and pressures that led to the outbreak of fighting in 1914 secured little attention. While Snell called for further research on a range of topics, he did not include among the priorities the origins of the war.64 Nevertheless, Snell did observe that the pre-war society and regime faced "extreme contemporary intellectual criticism—amounting to repudiations—of the political regime, social institutions, and moral values," "contradictory forces" that intensified before 1914.65

The decade of the 1960s ushered in a wave of new research and publications on the origins of World War I, the most innovative built upon the contraditions that Snell had eluded too. "On the fiftieth anniversary of the outbreak of war in 1914, we may expect a spate of books," wrote Geoffrey Barraclaugh in the New York Review of Books. His essay in the May 12, 1964, issue reviewed, however, general histories or military studies authored by both American and British historians.66 A number of books were in fact published. The prominent reporter and editor Richard L. Tobin observed in September 1965 that "The semicentennial of the Great War…is memorialized every month or two bysome new volume in the staggering literature of the era. World War I appears to fascinate writer and reader alike as no other of the modern era except the American Civil War."67 Tobin reviewed six of the newest books.
A few longer studies followed and one of the most widely read was Barbara Tuchman’s The Guns of August. A journalist and popular historian, Tuchmanwrote about the opening phases of the World War and she argued in the lengthy study that Europe had blundered into war.68 Much of the first 160 pages examine the plans for war prepared by the armed forces of the European powers and the efforts of political, military, diplomatic, and royal leaders during the first few days of August to deal with the rising tensions, anxieties, treaty obligations, and military planning.69 Tuchman’s book was an immediate best seller – it remained on the New York Times Best Seller List for more than 37 weeks - and it earned her a prestigious Pulitzer Prize. Tuchman’s grand narrative was a good read and found a wide audience, largely among the general public, and admiration among scholars. The popular Modern Library selected it as one of the 100 best non-fiction books of all time. Critics in a number of major newspapers praised The Guns of August highly. In 1964, the book was turned into a movie, the poster for it announcing "The Great War that shook the world explodes on the screen!"70
Not only was Tuchman’s book widely read, its influence was far-reaching. Shortly before the Cuban missile crisis of October 1926, when the Kennedy administration negotiated with the Soviet leadership on the installation of missiles in Cuba, President Kennedy had read the book. During the crisis, as tensions mounted, the American President referred openly to it, stating emphatically that he did not want the super powers to blunder into war as had happened in 1914.71 Kennedy was influenced by reading Tuchman’s account of how "great powers could accidentally slide into war if their leaders were inattentivew to the dangers ahead of them," wrote a journalist in in 2012 the Boston Globe newspaper. Jordan Smith added, "But historians now know something else as well: Barbara Tuchman’s thesis about WWI was wrong. In fact, the war wasn’t the accident she portrayed: Subsequent research in the archives of Imperial Germany has conclusively shown that Germany did want a war, one that would allow it to dominate the continent."72
Tuchman’s book is still widely read, as the American public has retained a strong interest in the events that led to the cataclysmic war that shaped the 20th century. Some critics, especially academic historians, were not so kind and immediately pointed out some problems of the book. "As a scholarly contribution to the history of the war," wrote University of Iowa historian Ulrich Trumpner in a review, "it is less satisfactory."73 He found "numerous inaccuracies and over simplifications" which he attributes to the "insufficient familiarity with the relevant monograph literature," a cardinal failing. "The book’s usefulness is further impaired by a blatantly one-sided treatment of Imperial Germany. Authentic information about its faults and misdeeds is mixed indiscriminately with half-truths, innuendoes, and absurd generalizations, transforming the Germans of 1914 into a nation of barbarians."74
Another popular writer, the journalist Hanson W. Baldwin, published his World War I: An Outline History also in 1962. The book focused largely on the military events of the war and was praised by one reviewer for its "muscular prose of a first-rate reporter."75 Just a few years later in 1965, The Long Fuse: An Interpretation of the Origins of World War I, an analysis of the origins of the war by historian Laurnece Lafore was published. One of a number of books to appear as part of the on-going commemoration marking the 50th anniversary of the outbreak of the war, Lafore’s study was widely read and praised. Lafore had worked briefly for the US State Department and later began a career as a university professor. His professional background helps to explain much about the book. On the one hand, it is geared toward college classes, a book intended as part of the assigned reading. On the other hand, he voiced the hesitancy of someone experienced in government operations. "The first World War is the name given to a very complicated series of events that took place, mainly in Europe, in the years between 1914 and 1918," Lafore wrote in the first sentence of the book; accurate yes buy hardly an insightful statement.76 He continued in the introduction to address the issue of its origins and asked about the war: "What caused it?" That question is, he wrote, "the aim and substance of this volume," but, he cautioned, he had "no intention of providing a categorical answer." The warwas "many things, not one, and the meanings of the word ‘cause’ are also many." Lafore focused on "a particular group of circumstances and chain of events that preceded the outbreak of the first World War," namely events in southeastern Europe, and this he does well.77 Lafore, though, refused to assign blame and asserted that "the responsibility was the monopoly of no man and no nation," rather the outcome of the "the system of European states and its shortcomings." He firmly rejects the notion of "war guilt."78
The turmoil within the US during the 1960s, the intense questioning of the nation’s leadership, its motivations and aims, as well as the increasingly divisive domestic forces led to deep seated reevaluation of the First World War, particularly its origins. "To understand policy one must know the policy-makers—the men of power—and define their ideological view and their developments," wrote the prominent ‘New Left’ historian Gabriel Kolko in his 1969 study of American foreign policy.79 This focus was shared by other historians during these years. In 1968, Arno Mayer, a respected historian at Princeton University, publised an influential article entitled simply "Domestic Causes of the First World War."80 Mayer, who described "himself at times as either left dissident or Marxist," wrote that diplomatic historians had focused for too long on the "dysfunctions of the international system," the "mistakes, miscalculations, and vagaries of the principal foreign policy actors" in attempts to explain the orgins of the war. They assumed that the balance of power and multi-states systems were both a "natural and essential" means for handling world affairs. Diplomatic historians had also long looked at the attitudes and motivations of the principal actors, but largely within the context of international relations, of traditional diplomacy. This approach, Mayer wrote, assumed that mistakes or miscalculations led to war in 1914, and it tended to leave "a distorted picture not only of the long-run and immediate causes of the Great War but also of the place of that war in the international civil war of the twentieth century."81
Mayer was among the first American scholars to tie domestic pressures and dysfunctions to diplomatic action, to address more explicitly the interconnection between domestic politics and foreign policy. "During the decade, including the weeks immediately preceding July-August 1914, the European nations experienced more than routine political and social disturbances," he wrote. It is these disruptions that Mayer proceeded to examine briefly, to call attention to this long neglected dynamic relationship. As Mayer concluded, "Whereas the dysfunctions in the international system and diplomatic rivalries among the major powers have been studied exhaustively and are well-known, the same cannot be said about the prewar domestic dysfunctions, notably about their all-European scope."82
In the late 1960s and 1970s, historians continued to look at the internal issues, the mounting social and political pressures that political leaders and decision makers responded to. L.L. Farrar published his study of The Short War Illusion: German Policy, Strategy and Domestic Affairs, August-December 1914 in 1973.83 A stimulating and well documented work, The Short War Illusion deals with the first months of the conflict. During these days each of the great powers sought, Farrar wrote, diplomatic victory and none was willing to accept diplomatic defeat. This behavior of the great powers, he concluded, "can therefore be understood in terms of their prewar policies." Farrar focused heavily on Germany, its policies and actions directed by "arrogance and anxiety."84 The early months of the conflict, when "most European leaders assumed a short war," was a time of confusion and contradictions. "The short-war assumption implied a limited and nonrevolutionary war, but all the participants had far-reaching and revolutionary aspirations." 85
General studies of the origins of World WarI continued to be published and these were directed largely toward students, to the rapidly growing number of young people entering American universities. During these decades American foreign policy in the 20th century came under renewed and widespread focus. D.F. Fleming, a historian at Vanderbilt University, published his book The Origins and Legacies of World War I in 1968. This 352 page book was, he stated at the beginning, a synthesis of the literature of the past 50 years. An admirer of Wilson and author of a major study on the Cold War, Fleming was at the end of a long academic career when this book came out. In the first half of the book, Fleming covered the background to the conflict, the system of alliances and the growing international tensions. He then turned to the "1914 Crisis" and "The Decision for War," devoting chapters to each. Lastly, Fleming offered his conclusion, one based on his review of the 50 years of literature. "This first armed catastrophe of our time was the natural and almost inevitable product of the international anarchy and the balance of power ‘system’," he wrote. "The guilt for it falls clearly upon the Cabinet of the Hapsburg Monarchy, which was determined to crush Serbia in a localized war while Germany held the ring. The responsibility for the outbreak of the war rests upon Germany, the controlling power in the Triple Alliance, whose rulers aw a favorable occasion for a general war which would reassert German hegemony and extend it widely."86
Specialists also continued to publish articles and books that contributed to the discussion of the origins of the war. Gerald E. Silberstein, a historian at the University of Kentucky, published in 1972 an account of German-Austrian relations from 1914 to 1917. His book was based on research in the Austrian and German archives, into records only newly available.87 In 1972, William H. Maehl published an article on German war aims in eastern Europe, a piece that largely reviewed the recent literature from scholars in Germany. In particular, Maehl addressed the controversy stirred up by Fritz Fischer whose book was translated into English and published under the seemingly innocuous title Germany’ Aims in the First World War. As Maehl explained, "Not since the celebrated war guilt controversy of the between-the-wars had there been so acrimonious a debate among historians as that engendered by Fischer’s sensational charges." Fischer’s thesis was widely reviewed in the U.S. and, as Maehl commented, "Few American experts on the war aims question" gave Fischer’s work "so unqualified endorsement as Hajo Holborn of Yale," the dean of American historians studying modern Germany.88 Fischer and his supporters had once again broadened the discussion of the war’s origins with his emphasis on domestic factors. Some were not convinced. As David Kaiser, a historian at Carnegie Mellon University argued, "the results of their attempt to broaden the focus of diplomatic history have been disappointing; the fascinating and critical problem of relating German society and politics to the Imperial Government has not been solved." Kaiser attempted to shift this focus in a 1983 article he which he stated: "Unquestionably the German government in the years 1897-1914 carefully considered the foreign policy initiatives in light of their domestic consequences."89
For the next decades, much of the work on the origins of the World War among American historians came from scholars who studied Woodrow Wilson and the post-war settlement. John Milton Cooper, a historian who taught at the University of Wisconsin and prominent Wilson scholar, edited a volume of essays on the "causes and consequences" of the war.90 American scholars of diplomatic history continued to focus largely on the broader trends in this nation’s history and consequentially the origins of World War I, the European diplomatic and military background, gains but short notice. Such historians focused on those forces that shaped America’s policy makers and in the 1980s the linkage between foreign policy and domestic politics. Still, as John Milton Cooper, a historian at Ohio State University, noted, American diplomatic historians had not done enough to "explore the insights to be derived from scholars in other fields."91 The field of military history, the role of armed forces in politics, society and on the battle field, had received but scant attention in American historical writings, especially following the Second World War. But, as noted below, new attention has been given to military issues in recent years 92 Political scientists also joined the discussion of the origins and outbreak of the World War and they contributed much to the analytical discussion. In a volume of the journal World Politics that discussed cooperation and non-cooperation among nations, Stephen van Evera, professor of political science at MIT and editor of the volume, focused on why war started in 1914.93 Evera posed a series of three analytical questions. First, "Were these non-cooperative polices caused by the factors explored in this volume – perverse payoff structures, small shadows of the future, weak national ‘recognition’ abilities, and relatively large number of players? If so, why did these factors appear, and how did they produce their malignant effects? Could they have been averted, and might this have prevented World War I?"94 Evera in an analytical essay proceeded to examine the "six remarkable misconceptions that were prevalent in Europe in the years before the war," which, he argued, explain the outbreak in 1914 what became a world war.

Over the past decade, American scholars have again turned to the outbreak of the World War in 1914. John W. Langdon, professor of history at LeMoyne College, published in 1990 his book July 1914. The Long Debate, 1918-1990, an account of the discussions over who was responsible for war in 1914. Langdon’s book is strong on French and German literature, but it focuses largely on the decisions of July 1914, as the title makes clear, and not the longer term origins.95 Interest has continued to grow. As Stanley Hoffmann commented in 2004 book review, "World War I is again attracting a great deal of academic and journalistic interest." David Fromkin’s Europe’s Last Summer. Who Started the Great War in 1914? had just been published and Hoffmann found it a good read. "Fromkin treats it as a murder mystery and with great success," he wrote, describing the text as "a crisp, lively account of that summer." Fromkin’s 368 page study covers in detail the diplomatic intrigue that heightened tensions during those months. He contrasted the years of peace and prosperity that had characterized the decades before 1914, an era of tranquility that he wrote was expected "to go on forever." Instead, "the European world abruptly plunged out of control, cracking and exploding into decades of tyranny, world war, and mass murder." For Fromkin, this conflict, the local war launched by the government of Austria-Hungary and the "world war" started by "Germany’s military leaders," shaped and defined the 20th century.96 He does not shy from assessing blame, namely holding responsible Germany and Austria and the small governing cliques. Fromkin was surprised to find that the origins of the war "involved so few people in a handful of countries." In addition, he concluded, the war was "started deliberately," that "the decision for war in 1914 was purposeful." It was "fought to decide the essential question in international politics, who would achieve mastery in Europe, and … in the world." The World War was, he wrote, "no accident." It was "the result of premeditated decisions by two governments." Fromkin, like a number of other scholars over the decades sought contemporary lessons in the crisis that led to war in 1914 and he devoted a chapter to the question "Could It Happen Again?"97
Along with the broad, narrative accounts of the outbreak of war, historians have discovered anew the months and years prior to 1914. Often they portray these years an era of unsuspecting calm, an effective means to contrast the enormity of the conflagration that followed. Some show in new detail the tensions within European societies and political hierarchy, splits that grew irrevocably wider in the summer of 1914. The domestic causes of the war, namely the internal dynamics of nations being pressured and fractured by the rapid changes in technology, changing social relations, and the emergence from within of new social and political orders that threatened the long established norms of society and established political life, is again receiving attention.
Since the year 2000, American historians have continued to offer a variety of points of view on the origins and outbreak of war in 1914. With the centennial of the launching of the conflict close at hand, the journalist Steven Hayward commented in January 2014, the publication of new works had reached a veritable flood.98 Broad, new and some not-so-new sweeping accounts have been published. Those interested in diplomacy and in search of lessons for today’s world have again turned to the years prior to the World War.99 David G. Herrmann offers a new and insightful view of the arms race that preceded the conflict, a source of sharply rising tensions that he holds largely responsible for the outbreak of war. Based on extensive archival work, Herrmann’s book focuses on how land based military power influenced international relations. He sees the land arms race as one of the major causes of the war. Herrmann’s book is part of the new military history being written.100
As of late, some of the most intense discussions have occurred among military historians. The debate, sparked by the 1999 publication of Terence Zuber’s article "The Schlieffen Plan Reconsidered" in the British journal War in History, has become intense. Zuber, a retired US Army officer who did his Ph.D. at the University of Würzburg, asserted that the Schlieffen Plan "had never actually been the German war plan." He thereby directly challenged what had long been held as a fact and long a buttress in the argument of German "war guilt." The article launched a spirited debate, limited, though, largely to military historians, which came to comprise at recent count 16 journal articles, some 290 pages of text, and several books.101 This spate of articles hasfocused on the existence of a hard and fixed plan for war, the debate largely been confined to military historians. While of interest to scholars, Zuber restricts the significance of his work by writing "The decision to go to war is political...whether the idea of ‘war guilt’ makes any poltical or ethical sense at all is not a problem for military history."102
Some historians, such as Richard Hamilton, have viewed the plans as, yes, indeed important in the path that lead to war, but cautioned that such expressions as "war plans" and "the Schlieffen Plan" can be "seriously misleading." As Hamilton wrote: "Instead of a static image-‘the plan’—it is best to think in terms of a process, that is, of a continuous, ever-changing planning effort." Military officers were constantly revising, updating, and offering alternatives to plans for war. In 2005 scholars from several nations met at a conference on the campus of Ohio State University to broaden the discussion of war plans, to bring into the mix the diplomatic and political settings. The proceedings were published in 2010 and Richard Hamilton’s introductory essay sets an intelligent tone for discussing and analyzing the "war plans" of the European nations and their contribution to the outbreak of war.103

Some scholars have once more turned to the leaders of the nations that were soon at war, to the small clique of decision makers among the political elite, and their pivotal role in leading Europe into open warfare. Several important collections of essays and books have appeared.104 In 2003, Robin Higham, professor of military history at Kansas State University, published a useful anthology. Entitled Research World War I: A Handbook, the book is a collection of essays on various nations and issues prepared by recognized scholars. The book was, Higham writes in the Preface, intended to give the general reader, graduate students, even professionals, a through start, a handbook identifying the major issues and literature.105 Higham writes in his introduction, "the world stumbled into the First World War because the political and military leaders did not understand the economic, social, and ideological dynamics of the movements they thought they were directing." The chapter on "Origins," prepared by Denis Schowalter, professor at Colorado College, is primarily a bibliographic essay, a compilation of themes and issues and suggested literature.106
Richard F. Hamilton, professor at Ohio State University,has done much to lead the reassessment of the decisions that led to war. The 2003 book on The Origins of World War I shifts the discussion of war origins decidedly away from the widely held view that Europe’s leaders had blundered into the conflict, that a series of tragic miscalculations led to war.107 The focus of each essay in this volume is a particular nation, those who made the crucial decisions in each, how they did so, and why they acted in such a manner. The conclusion reached was that the leadership made the decision to unleash their military forces, to fight a war, deliberately. As Holger Herwig, co-editor of the volume writes, "the decision making coterie saw their nation as in decline or at least as seriously threatened. To halt the decline or to block the threat, the decision makers felt that some demonstration of strength was imperative. It was the sense of threat and the resultant need to address that decline that led them to the key decision, namely, to participate in the coming war."108
In order to reach a broader audience as the centennial of the outbreak of war approached, Hamilton published only a year later the Decisions for War, 1914-17, a version of the book he had edited with Holger Herwig minus the academic apparatus of footnotes and an exhaustive bibliography. Hamilton and the publisher aimed for a broader audience.109 Hamilton also added to the discussion at a 2005 conference at Ohio State University whichbrought together American and European scholars to look at this issue war origins from a different perspective. The proceedings, published in 2010 as War Planning 1914, contains essays of the eight contributors, who, as Richard F. Hamilton writes, asked "why did the leaders of Europe’s major powers choose war?" 110 The underlying premise of each of these works, the unifying theme in each of the essays, is that the nations’ leaders made clear and conscious decisions that led to war. As Hamilton notes: "In each case a small coterie, the nation’s leaders, made the decisions that took the nation to war. Those leadership groups assessed current situations, defined the threats, considered alternatives, and chose war as their most appropriate option, either initiating action or responding to another nation’s initiative. In each case, moving a step beyond that formal statement, the participants had specific strategic agendas."111
The responsibility of the elite, that small number of individuals who dominated Germany’s political and military life, recently attracted the attention of Daniel Allen Butler, a military historian and author of nine books. "The First World War – the Great War – was the bastard child of one nation’s ambition, a Central European monarchy hell-bent on maintaining its position of political, economic, and military dominance over all its neighbors at any cost," he writes in his 2010 book, The Burden of Guilt. "The Great War exploded across Europe because Germany wished it to do so, and the German government and military leaders made it happen."112
In the last several years, a few American historians have offered fresh approaches to the study of the outbreak of the war, using new and innovative sources. MichaelS. Neiberg’s Dance of the Furies. Europe and the Outbreak of World War I, published in 2011, "shows another side to the outbreak of war in 1914 beyond the worlds of diplomacy and military planning," on "the rest of Europe," what it was "thinking, how it was reacting, and how a focus on ordinary people might give us a new perspective on this crucial event," he writes.113 Neiberg argues that this was not "a people’s war." Rather, the origins and outbreak were "the products of a classic cabinet war." Responsibilitylay, in his view, with that "small group of German and Austrian military and diplomatic leaders who badly misread the situation in 1914 and resorted far too quickly to war as an option." Neiberg writes, "In my view, the elites in Berlin and Austria (and to a lesser extent St. Petersburg) were the only ones who truly did want war."114 Neiberg’s contribution stems from his sources, the letters, diaries and journals of mostly middle class Europeans. Based on these accounts and supplemented with later memoirs, Neiberg concludes that few expected war in 1914 and "even fewer" desired war.115 In his 237page text, Neiberg does not offer another view of the outbreak of war. Rather, he looks at the "millions of people who neither desired nor expected a war in the summer of 1941, but who nevertheless fought that war to the bitter end."116 This approach, Neiberg insists, is a useful and important corrective to the view of popular sentiment that had prevailed since the outbreak of war in 1914. Neiberg, though, continues in the long tradition of American scholars by assigning the responsibility of the outbreak of the World War on the shoulders of the small cadre of political leaders who made the fateful decisions.117

To sum up, the writings of American historians and journalists who contributed much over the decades to the on-going discussion of the outbreak of war in the summer of 1914 havefollowed several broad streams. Initially, Germany, its rulers, pushed by their own perceptions of power and threats, was seen as the major villain, the nation directly responsible for war. Hence, the harshness of the Versailles peace settlement was, in this point of view, fully justified. In the 1920s, as the burdens and legacy of the Versailles treaty and its imposition upon the new, democratic Germany of "war guilt,"the full burden of responsibility for having plummeted Europe into war, younger scholars challenged that view strongly. Their work, based on the scholarly review of newly published diplomatic records, challenged the accepted view of German responsibility and therefore the post-war settlement. Though not able to gain access to the archives, they were content to peruse the voluminous volumes of documents published hurriedly by the former belligerents. Historians, such as Harry Elmer Barnes, Bernotte Schmitt, and Sydney Fay, sparked a far-reaching revision of the question of war origins and war guilt. To a large degree their work shaped the scholarship that followed. Fay’s two volume study has been heralded as a classic of diplomatic history, a thorough, detailed, and balanced judgment that continued to be used in college classes through the 1970s.
The acute domestic tensions within America in the decade of the 1960s and the mounting intensity of the Cold War led to fresh interpretations of the origins and outbreak of war a century earlier. Several scholars called for a new look at the internal crises hitting most European nations, the serious challenges to the established social and political order, challenges that frightened the ruling elite. Still others persisted in arguing that Europe essentially blundered into a war no one wanted, urged caution and reserve when facing contemporary flash points, such as in Cuba during October 1962. Scholars and political figures in the US found new relevance and meaning in the outbreak of World War I. During the decades that followed, new accounts of the origins and outbreak of the World War continued to be published in academic journals, dense scholarly studies, as well as popular works. New research in the archives and a reexamination of the diplomatic and domestic tensions led many scholars to similar conclusions, namely that Germany and Austria Hungary, to various degrees, bore the bulk of the responsibility for the war that cost tens of millions their lives and which devastated Europe for generations to come. The consensus in American historical writings is now that Europe did not stumble into war.118 Some differences in points of view do show up, as well it should and must be in historical writings. These new studieshave added much to our knowledge and understanding of how not only the elite acted and maneuvered, they also offer a more nuanced view of the reactions of the broad public in each nation. All this new research shows that the interest in the origins of theWorld War will endure well beyond the centennial and that historians will continue to attempt to find some contemporary relevance in the events of 1914. In fact, a striking facet of many of the most recent studies is that they continue the effort to ferret out lessons and cautions for the contemporary, as we all still learn from our study of the origins and outbreak of the First World War.119


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1 Steven F. Hayward, “100 Years After The Outbreak of World War I, Could The World Commit Suicide Again," Forbes (January 5, 2014), www.forbes.com/sites/stevenhayward/2014/01/05.

2 www.worldcat.org. World Cat is a catalog of more than 72,000 libraries worldwide and bills itself as the “world’s largest library catalog." There are several useful bibliographies specifically on the US and the war; see, for example, Ronald Schaffer, United States in World War I: A Selected Bibliography (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio, 1978); David R. Woodward, America and World War I: A Selected Annotated Bibliography of English Language Sources (New York: Routledge, 2007), and A.G.S. Enser, A Subject Bibliography of the First World War. Books in English, 1914-1987 (Brookfield, VT: Gower Publishing Co., 1979). On American foreign relations and diplomacy, Robert L. Beisner, ed., American Foreign Relations Since 1600. A Guide to the Literature, 2nd edition, Vol. I (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio, 2003); and Samuel Flagg Bemis, Guide to the Diplomatic History of the United States, 1775-1921, Part II (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1935). For a brief over view of the literature see Jacob Kipp, “’Over There’: World War I in Recent American Military Historiography. An Overview," in Jürgen Rohwer, editor, Neue Forschungen zum Ersten Weltkrieg (Koblenz: Bernard & Graefe Verlag, 1985), 383-391.Jay Winter, “Introduction," in Jay Winter and Antoine Prost, The Great War in History. Debates and Controversies, 1914 to the Present (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 2.

3 “100 Years After 1914. Still in the Grip of the Great War," The Economist (March 29th 2014), 89. For another insightful review, see Tara Zahara, “Behind the Storm," The Nation (December 12, 2013), 31-34. Zahara critiques the recent books by Margaret Macmillan, Christopher Clark, and Michael Neiburg.

4 John Jay Chapman, Deutschland ?ber Alles or Germany Speaks (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1914).

5 Ibid., 2, 4.

6 Dr. Charles W. Eliot, “America’s Duty in Relation to the European War," Address – the Women’s Club, October 15, 1914, 7. See, for example, the 1917 brochure, “Origins of the European War," which has section heading “The Responsibility of Germany" and “Desire for War" and concludes with this comment: “the German peoples…adhere faithfully to the Prussian government which carries the responsibility of the greatest crime ever committed against humanity." The quote is from page 8.

7 Gilbert Parker The World in the Crucible. An Account of the Origins and Conduct of the World War (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1915). Parker was a prolific Canadian author.

8 Ibid., 1, 3-5, 9.

9 Ibid., 379.

10 George H. Blakeslee, editor, The Problems and Lessons of the War (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1916), 265-278.

11 Frederic C. Howe, Why War (New York: Charles Schribner’s Sons, 1916), vii-viii. Howe held a PhD from The Johns Hopkins University, authored several books, and held various political positions. See his The Only Possible Peace (New York: Charles Schribner’s Sons, 1919) for a similar argument.

12 Howe, Why War, viii, xii.

13 Lindsay Rogers, America’s Case Against Germany (New York: E.P. Dutton & Company, 1917), 1, 5. William Backus Guitteau, Democracy On Trial In the World War (Toldeo, Ohio: The Newell B. Newton Company, 1918), 6-7. Wilbur F. Gordy, The Causes and Meaning of the Great War (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1919).

14 Syndey B. Fay, “New Light on the Origins of World War I. Berlin and Vienna to July 29," American Historical Review 25(July 1920), 616-639. The remaining two articles were published in the October 1920 issue (pages 37-53) and January 1921 (pages 225-254). See the remarks of Charles H. Haskins, “European History and American Scholarship," American Historical Review 23(January 1923), 215-227, who wrote in the first line of his essay “European history is of profound importance to Americans," echoing the sentiment of journalists writing in August 1914 about the outbreak of the war in Europe.

15 Karl Kautsky, et al., Outbreak of the World War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1924), which was published in the U.S. by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Fay, “New Light on the Origins of World War I," 616.

16 Fay, “New Light on the Origins of World War I," 617-618.

17 Sydney B. Fay, “New Light on the Origins of the World War, II. Berlin and Vienna, July 29 to 31," American Historical Review 26(October 1920), 51-52.

18 Ibid., 52.

19 In the 1960s, the domestic pressures that contributed to the outbreak of war became an important issue. See, for example, Arno Mayer, professor at Princeton University, “Domestic Causes of the First World War,“ in The Responsibility of Power. Historical Essays in Honor of Hajo Holborn (London: Macmillan, 1968), 286-300.

20 Fay, “New Light on the Origins of the World War, II, 53.

21 Sydney B. Fay, “New Light on the Origins of the War, III. Russia and the Other Powers," American Historical Review 26(January 1921), 225-254. On England, see Fay’s review of British Documents on the Origins of the War in the American Historical Review 32(1927), 600-603.

22 Fay, “New Light on the Origins of the War, III, 252.

23 Charles Seymour, review, Diplomatische Aktenstucke zur Geschichte der Ententepolitik der Vorkriegsjahre and Entente Diplomacy and the World, in American Historical Review 28(October 1922), 122-123.

24 “The Meeting of the American Historical Association at St. Louis," American Historical Review 27(April 1922), 410.

25 Recent Disclosures concerning the Origins of the World War, Discussed by Harry Elmer Barnes and Bernadotte E. Schmitt, Stenographic Report of the Luncheon Meeting, April 3rd, 1926, of the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, Pamphlet No. 8, 3.

26 Ibid.

27 Ibid., 4-5.

28 Ibid., 5.

29 Ibid., 5-6.

30 See, for example, Kautsky, et al., Outbreak of the World War. An editor of this volume, Max Montglas, published in 1925 a book entitled The Case for the Central Powers. An Impeachment of the Versailles Verdict (New York: A.A. Knopf, 1925).

31 Recent Disclosures concerning the Origins of the World War, 6-11.

32 Ibid., 11-13.

33 Bernadotte Schmitt, Ibid., 13ff, 23.

34 Ibid., 35 .

35 Thomas C. Kennedy, Charles A. Beard and American Foreign Policy (Gainesville, FL: The University Presses of Florida, 1975), 15-16.

36 Charles A. Beard and James Harvey Robinson, Outlines of Eruopean History, volume 2 (Boston, Ginn and Company, 1914), 677, 680, 684, 691-693..

37 Sydney B. Fay, review, in American Historical Review 28(April 1923), 543-548.

38 Ibid., 544.

39 Ibid., 547.

40 Charles F. Horne, editor, Source Records of the Great War, 7 volumes (New York: National Alumni, 1923), Volume 1, ix.

41 Horne, “An Outline Narrative of the Causes of the War," Ibid., xvii.

42 John S. Ewart, The Root Causes of the Wars (1914-1918), Volume 1 (New York: George H. Doran Company,1925), 4.

43 On Barnes, see Justus D. Doenecke, “Harry Elmer Barnes," Wisconsin Magazine of History 56(summer 1973), 311-323; and “Recent Deaths. Harry Elmer Barnes," American Historical Review 74(February 1969), 1179-1180.

44 Harry Elmer Barnes, The Genesis of the World War. An Introduction to the Problem of War Guilt(New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1926).

45 Ibid., iv, ix.

46 See, the obituary, “Recent Deaths," American Historical Review 74(February 1969), 1179. Barnes, The Genesis of the World War, iv, ix.

47 Ibid., xii, xiii. See the critiques in Outlook (June 23, 1926), the London Times (September 30, 1926), Foreign Affairs (October 1926), the London Observer (October 3, 1926), and the American Historical Review (January 1927).

48 The Genesis of the World War, 685-686.

49 Sidney Bradshaw Fay, The Origins of the World War (New York: the Macmillan Company, 1928).

50 Ibid., vii.

51 Ibid., viii.

52 Ibid., 548-549.

53 Ibid., 558.

54 Olin Dee Morrison, The Origins of the World War (Athens, OH: The University Bookstore, 1929).

55 Ibid., 2, 8, 17-19.

56 L.W. Cramer, The Diplomatic Background of the World War (New York: Columbia University Press, 1929).

57 Ibid., 7, 9.

58 Berntotte E. Schmitt, The Coming of the War 1914 (New York: Charles Schribner’s Sons, 1930).

59 Ibid., 480-481. Schmitt revised some of his views in a 1944 article; see Bernadotte Everly Schmitt, “July 1914: Thirty Years After," Journal of Modern History 16(September 1944), 169-204. He then concluded “the primary responsibility of Germany for the fatal ending of the crisis is clear and overwhelming" (page 204).

60 See Writings of American History (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office). Each of the annually published volumes has a section entitled “World War and Peace Conference, 1917-1919," thereby revealing the main interest.

61 Newton D. Baker, Why We Went to War (New York: Harper & Bros., 1936). Charles C. Tonsall, review, American Historical Review 42(1937), 808-809.

62 Samuel Taylor Moore, America and the World War. A Narrative of the Part Played by the United States. From the Outbreak to Peace (New York: Greenberg Publisher, 1937).

63 John L. Snell, “Imperial Germany’s Tragic Era, 1888-1918: Threshold to Democracy or Foreground of Nazism?," Journal of Central European History XVIII (Janaury 1959), 380-395, and “Imperial Germany’s Tragic Era, 1888-1918: Threshold to Democracy or Foreground of Nazism? Conclusion," Journal of Central European History XIX (April 1959) 57-75. Snell surveys the literature published not just in America, but also Germany and Great Britain during the 1940s and 1950s.

64 Ibid., I, 380, 385; II, 65, 75.

65 Ibid., I. 391-395.

66 Geoffrey Barraclaugh, "Goodbye to All That,“ New York Review of Books 2(May 14,1 964).

67 Richard L. Tobin, “The Blood of Change," The Saturday Review (September 4, 1965), 36.

68 Barbara Tuchman, The Guns of August (New York: Macmillan, 1962). The book, a best seller, runs to 511 pages. For a biographical sketch of Tuchman, see Walter A. Sutton, “Tuchman, Barbara Wertheim (1912-1989), in D.R. Woolf, editor, A Global Encyclopedia of Historical Writing, voume II (NY: Garland Publishing, 1998), 902.

69 Tuchmann, Guns of August, 93-157.

70 www.movieart.com.

71 See, Michael Dobbs, One Minute to Midnight. Kennedy, Khruschev and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008), 226-227. James G. Blight, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., David A. Welch, “The Cuban Missile Crisis Revisited," Foreign Affairs 66(Fall 1987), 171-172.

72 See, for example,Richard Holbrooke, “The Guns of August," Washington Post (August 10, 2006). Graham Allison, Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis (Boston: Little Brown, 1971). Jordan Michael Smith, “Did a Mistake Save the World? John F. Kennedy Relied on a History Book to Guide Him in the Cuban Missle Crisis – and We Now Know that Book Was Wrong," Boston Globe (October 21, 2012). Smith quotes University of Chicago political science professor John Mearsheimer who stated “Hardly any scholars accept the Tuchman thesis that WWI was an accidental or inadvertent war."

73 Ulrich Trumpener, review, Journal of Modern History 35(March 1963), 84-85.

74 Ibid., 85. Trumpener later turned to the July crisis in an article, which though narrow in focus, was based on extensive archival research. See, Ulrich Trumpener, “War Premeditated?’ German Intelligence Operations in July 1914," Central European History 9(1976), 58-85.

75 Hanson W. Baldwin, World War I: An Outline History (New York: Harper & Row, 1962). Louis L. Synder, review, in Journal of Modern History 35(March 1963), 95-96.

76 Laurence Lafore, The Long Fuse. An Interpretation of the Origins of World War I (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1965), 15.

77 Ibid., 16-17. Marion C. Siney, review, in Journal of Modern History 38(September 1966), 319-320. Lafore’s book does include a bibliographic essay, a thorough summary of the literature, one that students using his text would find useful; 269-274.

78 Lafore, The Long Fuse, 22-23, 267-269. Joachim Remark, review, in American Historical Review, 71(January 1966), 515.

79 Gabriel Kolko, The Roots of American Foreign Policy: An Analysis of Power and Purpose (Boston: Beacon Press, 1969), xii.

80 Mayer, "Domestic Causes of the First World War," 286-300. Winter, The Great War in History, 48-49.

81 The description of Mayer is from Matt Perry, “Mayer, Arno J. (1926- )," in Kelly Boyd, editor, Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writing, volume 2 (London: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1999), 786.Ibid., 286-287, 300.

82 Mayer, “Domestic Causes of the First World War,“ 28-288. Mayer published several other articles on this issue. See his suggestive “Internal Causes and Purposes of War, 1870-1956: A Research Assignment,"Journal of Modern History 41(September 1969), 291-303, and “The Primacy of Domestic Politics," in Holger Herwig, editor, The Outbreak of World War I (NY: Houghton Mufflin, 1996), 42-47. See also Michael R. Gordon, “Domestic Conflict and the Origins of the First World War: The British and German Cases," Journal of Modern History 46(June 1974), 191-226.

83 L.L. Farrar, The Short War Illusion: German Policy, Strategy, and Domestic Affairs, August-December 1914 (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC Clio, 1973). See also his 1972 article, “The Short War Illusion: The Syndrome of German Strategy, August-December 1914," Militärgeschichtliche Zeitschrift 12(December 1972), 39-52.

84 Farrar, The Short War Illusion, xv, 19-37.

85 Ibid., 148.

86 D.F. Fleming, The Origins and Legacies of World War I (Garden City, NJ: Doubleday, 1968), 140ff, 319. Emphasis in original. See, Dwight E. Lee, Europe’s Crucial Years: The Diplomatic Background of World War I. 1902-1914 (Hannover, NH: University Press of New England, 1974), who concluded once more that the European diplomatic system and the balance of power policies led to war.

87 Gerald E. Silberstein, The Troubled Alliance. German-Austrian Relations, 1914-1917 (Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky Press, 1970), 343.

88 William H. Maehl, “Germany’s War Aims in the East, 1914-1917: Status of the Question," Historian 34(1972), 381-406; the quotes are from pages 386, 398. Fitz Fischer, Germany’s Aims in the First World War (New York: W.W. Norton, 1967). See the review essay by Klaus Epstein (Brown University) of the German edition, “Germany’s Aims in the First World War," World Politics 15(1962), 163-185. John W. Langdon, “Emerging From Fischer’s Shadow: Recent Examinations of the Crisis of July 1914," History Teacher 20(1986), 63-86.

89 David E. Kaiser, “Germany and the Origins of the First World War," Journal of Modern History 55(September 1983), 442-47; quotes pages 442, 444.

90 John Milton Cooper, editor,Causes and Consequences of World War I (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1972).

91 Michael J. Hogan, “Introduction," in Michael J. Hogan, editor, Paths to Power: The Historiography of American Foreign Relations to 1941 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 3, 7. The chapters in this volume all deal with solely American issues. See, for example, William H. Becker, “1888-1920," in America Adjusts to World Power," in William H. Becker and Samuel F. Wells, Jr., editors, Economics and World Power: An Assessment of American Diplomacy Since 1789 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1984), 206-209.

92 See, Louis Morton, “The Historian and the Study of War," Mississippi Valley Historical Review 48(March 1962), 599-613.

93 Stephen van Evera, “Why Cooperation Failed in 1914," World Politics 38(October 1985), 80-117.

94 Ibid., 81.

95 John. W. Langdon, July 1914. The Long Debate, 1918-1990 (New York: St. Martins, 1991). See the review by Hew Strachan in German History 10(1992), 253.

96 Stanley Hoffmann, review, Europe’s Last Summer, in Foreign Affairs 83(May/June 2004), 146. David Fromkin, Europe’s Last Summer. Who Started the Great War in 1914?, (New York: Knopf, 2004), 4, 286-287.

97 Fromkin, Europe’s Last Summer, 287, 292-293, 296.

98 Hayward, “100 Years After the Outbreak of World War I."

99 See, for example, Patricia A. Weitsman, Dangerous Allinaces: Proponents of Peace, Weapons of War (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2004). Weitsman uses case studies from pre 1914 to discuss alliance formation.

100 David G. Herrmann, The Arming of Europe and the Making of the First World War (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996). His book has been widely praised. See the reviews by John F.V. Keiger, in H-Net Reviews (1997); Mars Trachtenberg,Journal of Modern History 69(September 1997), 557-558; and Eliot A. Cohen,Foreign Affairs75(July/August 1996), 142.

101 Terence Zuber, “The Schlieffen Plan Reconsidered,“ War in History (1999), 262-305. The repsonses with full bibliographic references and summaries of each article are listed at http://terencezuber.com/schlieffendegate.html. I am grateful to Dr. David Zabecki, a distinguished military historian and retired U.S. Army Major General, for bringing this literature to my attention. Zuber’s book, The Real German War Plan 1904-14, came out in 2001 (published in Stroud, Gloucestershire, England, by The History Press). He also published a volume of documents; see German War Planning, 1891-1914 (Woolbridge: Blydell Press, 2004).

102 Zuber, The Real German War Plan, 193.

103 Richard B. Hamilton and Holger H. Herwig, editors, War Planning 1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 2-3, passim.

104 See the review article by Jan Rüger, “Revisiting the Anglo-German Antagonism," Journal of Modern History 83(September 2011), 579-617.

105 Robin Higham, Researching World War I: A Handbook (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2003), vii. Higham, it should be noted, was born and educated in England but has taught for years in the United States.

106 Higham, “Introduction," Ibid., xvi. Dennis Showalter, “Origins," Ibid., 1-23. Showalter’s list of references runs to 262 titles.

107 Richard F. Hamilton and Holger H. Herwig, editors, The Origins of World War I (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008).

108 Holger H. Herwig, “Why Did It Happen?," in Ibid., 443. See David G. Herrmann, The Arming of Europe and the Making of the First World War (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996) who views the changed strategic environment of the European powers as making each more willing to go to war.

109 Richard F. Hamilton and Holger H. Herwig, editors, Decisions for War, 1914-1917 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004).

110 Richard F. Hamilton and Holger H. Herwig, editors, War Planning 1914 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010). For a similar perspective on military planning and pressures on the government in the decade leading to the war, see David G. Herrmann, The Arming of Europe and the Making of the First World War (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996), 225-232. Another important conference on the background and origins of the war was held in 2004 at Emory University. The speakers came from a number of nations and each was asked to address the issue was peace possible. See Holger Afflerbach & David Stevenson, An Improbable War. The Outbreak of World War I and European Political Culture before 1914 (New York: Berghahn Books, 2007).

111 Hamiltion, “War Planning: Obvious Needs, Not So Obvious Solutions," in Hamilton, War Planning 1914, 1, 23.

112 Daniel Allen Butler, The Burden of Guilt. How Germany Shattered the Last Days of Peace, August 1914 (Philadelphia: Casemate Publishers, 2010), 3.

113 Michael S. Neiberg, Dance of the Furies: Europe and the Outbreak of World War I (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011), 4. Neiberg is professor of history at the University of Southern Mississippi.

114 Ibid., 4-5.

115 Ibid., 6, 10-14, 21

116 Ibid., 234.

117 See Sean McMeeken’s recently published July 1914. Countdown to War (New York: Basic Books, 2013). McMeeken holds a handful of men responsible for leading Europe to war and his book, based on extensive archival research, shifts blame, however, from Austria-Hungary and Germany to France and Russia. He devotes the Epilogue to “The Question of Responsibility." I have not yet had the opportunity to read this book.

118 See Keir A. Lieber, “The New History of World War I," International Security 32(Fall 2007), 155-156, for an excellent summation of the arguments.

119 Zahra, “Behind the Storm," 34. See, for example, Frank C. Zagare, The Games of July. Explaining the Great War (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2011), 188-190. Zagare, a political scientist, used “some recent advances in the theory of noncooperative games," namely the “perfect deterrence theory." This he described as “a logically consistent and empirically plausible theory of interstate conflict initiation, limitation, and escalation." (4) Zagare applies this theory to explain the escalation of tensions and disputes that culminated in the World War, and he sees an immediate relevance for today’s struggles with terrorism. Steven Haywood, the journalist quoted at the beginning of this essay, sees other lessons, namely in the consequences of the war. David Fromkin devotes a chapter to the question “Could It Happen Again?" in his book, Europe’s Last Summer. See the comments by Christopher Clark, “Rätselhfte Reime," Süddeutsche Zeitung, Nr. 24 (January 30, 2014).