Read 1913: The Eve of War by Paul Ham Online


Christmas 1913. In Britain, people are debating a new dance called ‘the tango’.In Germany, they are fascinated by the wedding of the Kaiser’s daughter to the Duke of Brunswick. Little did they know that their world was on ‘The Eve of War’, a catastrophe that was to engulf the continent, cost millions of lives, and change the course of the century. And yet behind the scenesChristmas 1913. In Britain, people are debating a new dance called ‘the tango’.In Germany, they are fascinated by the wedding of the Kaiser’s daughter to the Duke of Brunswick. Little did they know that their world was on ‘The Eve of War’, a catastrophe that was to engulf the continent, cost millions of lives, and change the course of the century. And yet behind the scenes, the Great Powers were marching towards what they thought was an inevitable conflict. In this controversial and concise essay, the military historian Paul Ham argues that the First World War was not an historical mistake, a conflict into which the Great Powers stumbled by accident. Nor was it a justified war, in which uncontained German aggression had to be defeated. Instead the politicians and generals of the day willed the war, and prepared for it – but eventually found themselves caught up in an inferno they could no longer control. ‘The Eve of War’ is a brilliant re-examination of the causes of the First World War that is both an introduction to one of the most complex subjects in history and an original and thought-provoking contribution to the debate over the origins of the conflict. Paul Ham’s military histories have been widely praised. "[A] vivid, comprehensive and quietly furious account...Paul Ham brings new tools to the job, unearthing fresh evidence of a deeply disturbing sort. He has a magpie eye for the telling detail" - Ben Macintyre The Times. "Provocative and challenging..A voice that is both vigorous and passionate" - Christopher Sylvester, Daily Express. "Controversial...Well documented and stringently argued" - Peter Lewis, Daily Mail. Paul Ham is the author of the forthcoming 1914: The Year the World Ended, to be published by Random House in Britain in 2014. He has previously written the acclaimed Sandakan, Kokoda, Vietnam: TheAustralian War and Hiroshima Nagasaki. A former Australia Correspondent of the Sunday Times, he was born in Sydney and educated in Australia and Britain. He now lives in Sydney and Paris.Endeavour Press is the UK's leading independent publisher of digital books....

Title : 1913: The Eve of War
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 18877635
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 83 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

1913: The Eve of War Reviews

  • Joseph
    2019-05-03 04:14

    1913: The Eve of War by Paul Ham sets the European stage for the start of WWI. Ham is the author of several books on 20th Century war, politics, and diplomacy. He has written several on the time period including the previously reviewed 1914: The Year the World Ended. Europe was a happy place. Economic growth, new products and production contributed to an established middle class. There was stability. It has been ninety-eight years since the last continent wide war, and over forty years since any of the powers faced off in a war. Art, music, and leisure time made this a golden time. Ham looks into the events that caused the war and tells that it is much more complex, and even a bit more absurd than what we came to believe. We all heard the blame placed on alliances and the assassination of the Arch Duke. These are simple answers that do not reflect the complexity of the situation. Alliances do not lead to war. Anyone who has lived through the Cold War recognizes that NATO and the Warsaw Pact kept the war cold. The Archduke was not liked at home or abroad. Emporer Franz Joseph is credited as thanking God for bringing order to his house after the assassination. No leaders from any of the powers attended the funeral. The Emporer, although shaken by the news of the assassination returned to the capital, but quickly resumed his vacation.Suspicion, distrust, and prestige had more to do than anything else. There more than ample opportunities to stop the war before it started, but no one put forth the effort. Instead everyone planned for war. Railroads made mobilization quicker and also prevented a negotiation period from mobilization to the firing of shots. Once the troops boarded the trains, there was no turning back. Ham makes sense of and explains the complex events that lead to a very preventable war.

  • Tariq Mahmood
    2019-05-06 01:16

    How can we feel the past as those who lived back then felt it?Paul Ham in this tiny masterpiece has given me a glimpse of how to history should be like, free from prejudices and personal views. I have always been confused about the main reasons for the start of the Great War, and any book or documentary which I chanced upon glossed over this question with the general narrative that no one back then expected it. The War just came out of nowhere completely surprising all stakeholders and pundits. Paul's account on the other hand has clearly laid out the mood of the general population as well as their leaders and media who all not only knew that a war was inevitable but craved and abetted it. They built new railway lines, new ships, enlisted soldiers, excited their population on war footing, rejecting the few voices for peace at the same time. It was a time when the population seemed drunk on patriotism, even bastardising Darwin's theory of evolution to prove their superiority. I also learnt how the newest Industrial power on the European scene, Germany was ignored because of paucity of its colonial assets. And how the the colonial giants, Britain and France expected Germany to attack their assets instead of attacking in Europe.The size and rich material in this book make it a most wondrous read indeed.

  • Michael Flanagan
    2019-05-13 23:15

    What can I say I love Paul Ham’s books; he has a great talent in making history dance of the pages. While 1913 is only a small offering running at 81 pages he still manages to engage the reader from the very first page. This book is a lead in to his much more substantial body of work 1914 ,and on the eve of the 100th year since World War I broke out it is a very pertinent read.What we get in 1913 as you would expect is the lead up to the war. He looks at the social and political landscape of the era. He goes along away in getting the reader to see how numerous societies across had a glorified and romantic view on War. I came away from this book with a new view on the pre-cursors to WWI and with the appetite to delve into his next book. For those of you yet to experience the brilliance of Paul Ham this is a great introduction.

  • Gregory
    2019-05-06 02:06

    1913: The Eve of War is an interesting read on the run-up to the first world war. However, Ham's explanation of those events comes across as opinion because he rarely substantiates his arguments in any substantive way. Perhaps this isn't a fair review because opinion is exactly what the Amazon book description claims the writing to be (using the word "essay"); I'm essentially accusing the author of writing what he claimed to write in the first place and using it against him. His use of advanced vocabulary aside, I might have expected a bit more scholarly approach to the essay.Still, Ham offers an interesting take on the causative factors of World War I.

  • Patricia Fawcett
    2019-05-07 02:14

    As we approach the centenary of the outbreak of the once-mooted 'war to end all wars,' this book provides a fascinating account of a Europe where countries formed alliances will-nilly with each other, changing tack on a regular basis. At the heart of this was Kaiser Wilhelm II, for whom any diplomatic difference of opinion was a perceived slight, and who, as far back as 1905, had been building up the German Navy and had initiated the drawing up of the Schlieffen Plan, a suggested blueprint for German reaction in the event of a European conflict. Politicians in Britain failed initially to grasp the putative seriousness of the situation. The ill-timed motorcade of the unpopular Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife at Sarajevo on 28th June 1914 triggered a response which accelerated into an unprecedented global conflict, the full justification for which cannot be readily understood from a 21st century viewpoint. However, the complex alliances and background described in so much depth by Paul Ham go a long way in demonstrating how Europe, in 1913, was ripe for conflict, and provide a very useful reference and template for students, interested parties and historians alike.

  • Megan
    2019-05-07 03:07

    I admit to being pretty ignorant about WWI and its causes, and this book was a quick and easy introduction to the causes and the states of mind of the various European leaders who were setting the course for war. The last chapter changes tone and becomes increasingly critical of these states of mind (and you can hardly blame the author, for just thinking about the devastation of the first World War, and the sheer number of lives lost, is profoundly upsetting), but prior to that it's all very even-handed, with nobody looking all that great.I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone who would like a pretty simple introduction to the world in 1913.

  • Dianne
    2019-05-17 04:13

    With the lead up to the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War, we can expect a number of books, documentaries, novels and histories set during this period. The lead up to The Great War is a complex subject which Paul Ham deals with in a well written, fast paced essay. Unfortunately the short length results in a blanket overview. Despite his critique of 'hindsight' in the epilogue, from page one through to the end, I felt that hindsight was the sight. It would make an excellent lecture, or television program, but for some insight into the causes of the war, a little more digging is required. There is an excellent bibliography.

  • Mahmood Hanif
    2019-04-24 06:16

    This seemed a timely read as we approach the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War. The author outlines the thought processes in the government and military of the major protagonists (Germany, Russia, France, Britain and Austria-Hungary) as well as their general populations. His main argument is that far from sleep-walking into war the major powers had been anticipating and preparing for it.It's a short and easy read that uncovered (for me at least) lots if interesting facts - such as the role played by the railway network in making war a certainty.

    2019-05-01 23:50

    Historical insightI often wondered how such an obscure assassination could lead several countries to enter into a world war. The specifics were never adequately explained by my public school educators. I had no idea of the background leading up to the war. After reading 1913, I can now see the complexity of actions and inactions of several world leaders and their lessors combined with a lot of stupidly lead to the death of millions.

  • Jesse McDermid
    2019-04-22 22:56

    Overall, I found this and enjoyable and accessible read. Some basic knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the First World War is necessary to follow the essay but I had little reason to turn to other sources except to satisfy my own curiosity. While I have never thought that the Great War was inevitable, I had not appreciated the extent to which a small minority generated the widespread support for the conflict found in all countries or how most in each nation perceived themselves as being under threat from those on the other side.

  • x x x
    2019-05-16 22:54

    Well balanced treatmentA scholarly exploration into the societal Trends and attitudes that led up to and may even have precipitated World War. I wish the author had had an addendum that tied it to the presidencies and their talk up to the various Wars we've seen in modernity to see if the run-up to World War I might have been a template for the run-up to World War II and other Wars since then.

  • Dale
    2019-05-13 06:15

    A refreshing dive into history, geography, social psychology. Never thought about social Darwinism as a potential partial cause of WWI. Sometimes Ham's sentence structure slowed me down when he placed the specific subject at the end of a sentence which appeared to be describing all of the participants.

  • Bevan
    2019-04-30 06:05

    I was inspired to buy this Kindle Single after reading favourable reviews of Paul Ham’s book 1914: The Year the World Ended. The Australian author wrote this book prior to 1914 being released so I'll forgive the duplication of a few chapters. The centenary of the Great War lead to several titles bring released on the origins of the Great War (a topic upon which it is difficult to say much that is new). Most notably there has been Sean Mcmeekin's July 1914: Countdown to War and more controversially The Russian Origins of the First World War, Margaret McMillan’s The War That Ended Peace: The Road To 1914 and Christopher Clark’s The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914. Paul Ham freely acknowledges the abundance of material on this endlessly fascinating topic, however promises a fresh approach as he promises to treat the objective of his study as “to reach the core of the onion, the heart of its being, by peeling away many ‘narrative skins’: layers of misperception, blinkered plans, propaganda, paranoia and plain lies”. The extended essay format of the Kindle Single is conducive to a well argued but concise treatment of this complex topic. Ham does a good job of avoiding the perils of hindsight as he treats all of the participants with equality. Unlike other authors he puts Germany’s ambitions and militarist outlook well into context, balancing them with those of the other European powers. He describes how “a spirit of vengeance permeated French society in 1913”, how Britain persistently feared the rise of Germany and the way that warmongers in Russia believed “the whole nation must accustom itself to the idea that we arm ourselves for a war of annihilation against the Germans”.He pricks the “belle epoque” as an exaggerated phenomenon, often used to contrast the artistic revolution with the events that followed. Ham argues that “the flowering of artistic and literary genius had little direct influence on the people in power or the man in the street”. Instead governments and more importantly the military leaderships were all assuming war was coming. Their intricate war plans acted as a self fulfilling prophecy. This was bolstered by growing rail networks which made massive industrially powered mobilisations possible. So war was on the minds of those in power - virtually an assumption. Ham writes that the outbreak of war in 1914 couldn't have been a surprise to anyone in power. Part Two of the book explores how war was “willed”. Ham argues that although obvious factors such as the Anglo German naval race, the Balkan wars, Russia’s growing military strength and Britain's lack of apparent commitment (leading Germany to gamble that she might remain neutral) were important, less tangible factors were “immeasurably influential". He describes an intense anti German feeling in Britain, and conversely a feeling of deliberate and persistent exclusion from influence in Germany. He also highlights the importance of the conflict between Russia’s visions of power in the Balkan and Constantinople with Austrian interests. The Balkan wars were crucial - they “entrenched the powers of Europe and delineated the belligerent and their allies”. Another factor Ham highlights is the desire for war amongst the young, the future warriors. Fuelled by Social Darwinian beliefs in the importance of a nation being strong, a longing for war was exalted. Politicians played their game dangerously. “Sheer laziness, unintelligence and inability to concentrate were common”. Ham concludes his book by looking at the governments of Europe at the end of 1913. He convincingly argues that they were expecting, indeed almost willing war. With loaded arsenals and plans for war carefully considered Ham makes a strong argument for the weight of intentions supporting war. In the end the assassination of Franz Ferdinand provided the excuse for Austria to manufacture a small war with Serbia “knowing it risked a Europe-wide catastrophe”. Ham’s book is a well written synthesis of current scholarship. He convincingly rejects a “sleepwalking” to war thesis, arguing that all parties willingly adopted their plans, antipathy towards each other and acceptance that war was an inevitability and natural element of policy. I look forward to reading 1914: The Year the World Ended.A note on the books formatting: regrettably the publisher did not insert the footnotes as links (i.e the reader needs to go to the end of the book and find the relevant reference number manually. Hopefully this will be rectified in an update.

  • Lauren A George
    2019-05-01 22:52

    Wonderfully objectiveI very much enjoyed this bipartisan look into the on slaughter of the Great War. Many passages ring eerily true to statements made by current political leaders.

  • Phillip J. O'Brien
    2019-04-25 00:51

    An interesting presentation of 1913 and how ego played a huge part in World War I.

  • Karen
    2019-05-20 00:16

    This came highly recommended to me since I read a lot of books on World War I, mainly trying to understand this incredibly obtuse war. This is the first book or essay I've read by Paul Ham. He is very passionate about this topic. I can totally understand why. The people involved in the higher echelons of government and military knew for a long time where things were headed. All of the countries that ultimately became part of the war in Europe had big reasons for allowing their militaries to build up in times of peace, and encouraging journalists to promote nationalism. Ham really presents the case that these generals and the politicians absolutely knew that they were promoting a coming war...that contrary to what they told historians after the war, that they did not 'stumble' into it. Even though I totally agree with Ham's presentation, and his information is aware that this essay is not something to read, unless you have a good background in World War I. Otherwise, much of what he says will be unfamiliar, and readers will wonder what he is talking about. I also have a bit of a problem with historians who write a book with such an active 'slant' or 'prejudice' about their topic. Any history is going to be impacted by the views of the historian. It's like in physics, it is known you cannot view an electron path in an atom without impacting the path of that electron. Same thing in writing a history. In this case, Ham is so blatant about his views, that perhaps readers should be warned ahead of time? For those of us who are not new to WWI, and who actually agree with Ham, this isn't a problem. But for those who are just learning about the history of WWI, you would like them to read an objective history first, and come to their own conclusions. Same thing with American history, such as settling the West. Then they can start reading other histories, such as those about the settling of the West from the American Indians point of view which is going to be significantly and radically different. Just a thought. Good book though.

  • Lars Fischer
    2019-04-27 04:01

    A quick and well-written account of events leading up to WW1, with focus on military planning, political decision-making, and the popular mood of the upper and lower class. Ham does a good job of bringing a lot of information and a wide range of motives together in a compelling presentation. No matter if you're new to the topic or well read, you will find thing of interest and learn something new.The weakness, to me, are two-fold: 1) it's an essay-type book, so there's more focus on flowing presentation and opinion than making sure we all have the background for the arguments made. This is a clear choice made, and is of course also part of the strength of the book. 2) the books core argument is that "the myth of an unavoidable war" is false, and that is fact everyone walked into that disaster with open eyes, either willing the war or doing irresponsibly little to avert it. While this is perfectly valid, I was a bit surprised by the force by which this argument was made - surprised that it's seen as a argument important to make. Are there really people who believe in this myth and are not aware of the terrible responsibility and idiocy of pre-war European leaders? Is the myth still taught in schools in UK, Germany, France? It's certainly not what I was taught.That said, despite having accepted the argument before it was made, I found the book a good read and the time well spent. And, not to forget, with it's view of the Belle Epoque as an elite-only phenomenon, a nice companion to

  • Bob Allen
    2019-05-10 04:47

    Interesting perspective on the genesis of WWI. It didn't just happen because the Archduke of Austria, Franz Ferdinand, was killed — that was simply the fuel that changed a smoldering conflict into full-fledged war. Rather, the leaders of Europe — specifically Russia, Germany, France, Austria-Hungary, and Britain — had prepared for and expected war for nearly a decade. They built up their military capabilities, ostensibly for defensive purposes, while doing very little diplomatically to lessen tensions. There was distrust — France was angry for losing territory, Russia had visions of grandeur, Germany wanted a say in world affairs and had dreams of a worldwide empire, Britain didn't like or trust Germany, all wanted to protect their own positions and power. I don't think Ham proposed a particularly startling theory but he articulated it well and pulled the evidence together well. He goes a bit overboard in blaming military build-up, though it is true that, once set in motion, it's difficult to put a halt to warlikeness. On the other hand, if there is credible evidence of ill intent on the part of one's neighbours, it would be the height of foolishness to ignore that, do nothing, and simply hope that it goes away.

  • Rodrigo
    2019-05-14 23:05

    This is an interesting essay, although quite contradictory in the way it is written. It starts talking about peace and how the perception of war was completely out of any expectation in 1913. While you progress, though it is clear that there was not only an advanced planning process occurring focused on an "inevitable" war by all military commanders, but also a willingness for war throughout the population of the main countries involved in the process. The elite wanted a heroic war associated to conservative and nationalist ideals, while the populace was fed with chauvinism and xenophobia. Some ideas displayed in the book are interesting, such as the German concept of "storming out of the fortress". It is very clear though that the movement towards war was quite conscious and consistent. What appeared to be not quite understood was the intensity and duration of the conflict. In any case it is a good book, opinionated, interesting and easy to read. Not the traditional technical history textbook with lots of references and footnotes, but a text to be enjoyed and to reflect upon.

  • Chris White
    2019-04-23 00:04

    This book felt like a prologue to a much longer story and in two ways it very much is.This is a short piece but it covers a lot of ground of what led up to our first world war and focuses primarily on the geopolitical context of Germany, Russia, the UK and France as well as the military preparation for what many felt was all but inevitable. While it's a helpful introduction, it passed over much of the tensions and conflicts with Austria Hungary, Serbia and much of the surrounding areas; mentioning little more than how more powerful countries used them to trigger their own military preparations such as the Schlieffen Plan.In another sense, this also seems like the introduction to the author's much longer 1914 which perhaps fills in more of the gaps including the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. I have not yet had read 1914 but it's certainly on the list now.

  • Bookreaderljh
    2019-04-27 23:05

    OK book but my World War I history is obviously sorely lacking. The layout of the book was to show that WWI did not start by a simple assassination but more that the politics and mores of the time wanted a war to start. The most interesting tidbit was how railroad systems were built up throughout Europe in order to get troops to the front faster. Also interesting was how the youth of the time were indoctrinated to be heroic and loyal to country and how many later ended up dead. For a history buff, this is a fairly short and direct prelude to the thought and action processes that led to WWI but at times my eyes did glaze and too many references to people and places and events that could have used more background.

  • Teresa Perkins
    2019-04-28 01:51

    I don't usually read non -fiction, but when I do I usually choose books about war. This one was interesting and covered a subject I know very little about; World war 1. Of course I knew there was a WW1 but it occurred so long ago I never gave it much thought. One item I found interesting in this book is the fact that European powers were all basically planning if not hoping for a war long before it happened. And the fact that they (leaders) let it happen is beyond my comprehension. Another interesting item is the upgrading of the railway system in France, Russia and Germany, in the years prior to the war, which was stated to be a part of this war plan. What better way to ship troops to the front lines than by rail. An interesting book and it has piqued my interest to read more about WW1.

  • Ron Estrada
    2019-05-09 00:12

    This is my first foray into any reading of the events leading up to the First World War. The author does an excellent job of representing the turmoil going on in Europe at the time, so much so that I really could have used a map (I read the Kindle maps). Despite the impossibility of digesting the role of every player, I understood enough to realize that nothing about the cause of the Great War has been accurately taught in our schools. The mistrust and outright paranoia running rampant through the European nations would have resulted in war, whether or not some archduke was assassinated or not. I did feel that the book ended to abruptly. I was ready for more and surprised to find it had ended. Kindle is good for that, you never really know where the end is.

  • Brad Lucht
    2019-05-11 05:11

    Short, precise summary of the state of Europe at the end of 1913.Nationalism, as always, played a strong role in indoctrinating the general populations to enthiastically ebrace the coming war.Of geatest benefit to me was the mention of a reference, recommended by the author, "The Origins of the War of 1914," by Luigi Albertini. Published in 1952, and based on extensive interviews of the leaders involved, it is considered a definitive reference as to how this war came about.37 million casualties. Let that be your final thought.

  • Jim
    2019-05-03 22:04

    I must admit to being enamored of the Kindle Single series - too long for a magazine article but too short for a book. Here the author disputes the common notion that Europe stumbled into WWOne. For lovers of footnoted works he provides a plethora of them. His basic premise was that many of the leaders in Europe not only planned for the war but believed it to be desirable. He references many earlier events that make me want to explore those topics as well.

  • Mike Frizzell
    2019-05-15 23:56

    The popular notion that World War I was inevitable and somehow destined to happen is demolished in this interesting essay (I would hesitate to say book). Instead of being something beyond the control of those in power, Ham proves war was something they all wanted, or at least something they did nothing to stop. Rather than being inevitable, or solely Germany's fault, war happened because of the action and inaction of individuals and governments.

  • Laurie
    2019-05-19 21:51

    An incredibly well researched book that gives perspectives from multiple points of view on the causes of World war 1. The book offers insight into the personalities, economics and politics of the time - showing how the various factions did little to avoid the conflict and many, actively pursued conflict as an inevitable show of force. It is a very straightforward book, a bit dry at times, but a very interesting look at this time in history.

  • Val
    2019-04-29 06:08

    The author has given a persuasive account of the build up to the First World War as an introduction to his larger book about the conflict. He demolishes a few ill-informed myths, but introduces no new material. He does have several sources to back up his account, but he also includes his own opinions.His writing style is attractive and this is worth reading, for anyone looking for a brief overview.

  • Jane
    2019-05-19 06:01

    I chose this book because I didn't know very much about WWI and thought it might be interesting. The author provides good background on what lead up to the war, and what he felt were the contributing factors. It was a succinct book, well written, and clearly laid out. After reading some reviews, it appears that Ham's premises are also unique and show a different perspective to The War. Therefore, I would recommend the book to history buffs who are interested in a fresh point of view.

  • Celainn
    2019-05-10 01:51

    This is a very broad, but helpful over-view of the world at the brink of "The Great War". It quite nicely sets the stage and places all the players if you don't know that much about this time in history. It can be a bit TOO broad (as huge overviews such as this tend to want to be) and tends to want to ramble far afield of the major players, but it's quite well-written and well-done for all that.