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World War I

World War 1 History Books

 World War I Book Cover
In 1914 Europe blundered into a civil war that would become the most significant event of the last thousand years:  World War I.  This book explores the tensions between European states that had been building for decades and the strategic positions of the major players which drove them to War.  It looks at how the War began, major themes during the War, and how it ended.  It concludes with a reflection of the major consequences of the War.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Major Participants: Status and Motives
    1. Germany
    2. France
    3. Austria-Hungary
    4. Russia
    5. Ottoman Empire
    6. The Balkan States
    7. England
  3. Issues Leading to War
    1. The Tectonic Clash of Three Civilizations
    2. Rise of German Power
    3. Balkan Nationalism
    4. Austrian-Hungarian Weakness
    5. The Collapsing Ottoman Empire
    6. Russian Ambitions in the Balkans
    7. The Domino Effect of Entangling Alliances
    8. Military Preparations Making War Inevitable
  4. The Start of the War
  5. Major Themes During the War
    1. Stalemate
    2. New Industrial Technologies
    3. Massive Slaughter
    4. War in the Middle East
    5. The Russian Revolution
    6. State Propaganda
    7. The U.S. Breaks the Stalemate
  6. The End of the War and the Treaty of Versailles
  7. Major Consequences
    1. Destruction of Four Great Empires
    2. New States
    3. Emergence of Communism as a State-Based System
    4. Rise of Dictatorships
    5. Death of the European Enchantment
    6. Rise of the U.S. to Preeminent World Power
    7. The Cause of World War II
  8. Final Word
  9. Timeline


In 1914, Europe blundered into one of the greatest cataclysms in history. It began a European civil war that would last for over four years, that would consume the entire continent and involve several other continents as well, and that would ultimately claim over 26 million casualties. It brought to bear the entire productive capacity of a modern technological civilization for the effective purpose of industrializing human slaughter.

Because of its sheer horror, the scale of its destruction, and its lasting impact, the causes of World War I have been studied for decades. At their root, they reflect what happens when a system designed for balance goes out of balance, when established powers become weak, when ambitious newcomers maneuver for more power, when all participants become schemers in an intricate webs of alliances, and when all parties to a conflict have access to unending supplies of unimaginably destructive armaments.

This book examines each of the major participants in the war, including their strategic positions, national interests, and motivations for engaging in war. It looks at the underlying issues that virtually guaranteed a war, and then how the War actually started. It discusses themes during the War, how the War ended, and the Treaty of Versailles which settled the War. Finally, it considers some the War’s major consequences and concludes with a final word and a timeline of the War’s beginning.

The consequences of World War I were as dramatic as the devastation itself. They included: the extinction of four formerly great empires; the emergence of communism as a state-based system; the creation of 11 new countries; a proliferation of dictatorships; the end of European dominance in world affairs; and the elevation of the United States to the position of pre-eminent world power. Any one of these consequences would be momentous, at any place, or at any time. Their cumulative effect, as a result of a single event, is impossible to overstate. In fact, the impact of World War I was so great, it is considered by many historians as the most significant event of the last thousand years. This is that story.

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