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July 1914: countdown to war

July 1914: countdown to war

McMeekin, Sean, 1974- author

This is Sean McMeekin's story of Europe's countdown to war in 1914, told through the eyes of men who, even a century later, still seem larger than life. We meet the Habsburg heir Archduke Ferdinand, the fanatical Serbian assassins plotting his murder, and the Austrians seeking to exploit his death, encouraged by Kaiser Wilhelm II

Paperback, Book. English.
Published London: Icon Books, 2014
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Available at Dulwich and Peckham.

  • Dulwich – One available in WAR/MILITARIA 940.3112

    Barcode Shelfmark Loan type Status
    23859881 WAR/MILITARIA 940.3112 Adult Non Fiction Available
  • Peckham – One available in WAR/MILITARIA 940.3112

    Barcode Shelfmark Loan type Status
    23861029 WAR/MILITARIA 940.3112 Adult Non Fiction Available


Statement of responsibility: Sean McMeekin
ISBN: 1848316577, 9781848316577
Note: Includes bibliographical references and index.
Note: Originally published: 2013.
Physical Description: xviii, 461 pages : illustrations (black and white), maps (black and white) ; 20 cm
Subject: Warfare and Defence.; World War, 1914-1918 Causes.

Author note

Sean McMeekin's books include The Berlin-Baghdad Express, The Ottoman Empire and Germany’s Bid for World Power (Penguin/Allen Lane) and The Russian Origins of the First World War (Harvard University Press). He lives in Istanbul with his wife, Nesrin, and their daughter, Ayla.


'A work of meticulous scholarship ... McMeekin's description of the details of life in the European capitals - small events that influenced great decisions - makes July 1914 irresistible.'
Times||'A genuinely exciting, almost hour-by-hour account of the terrible month when Europe's diplomats danced their continent over the edge and into the abyss.'
BBC History Magazine||'Sean McMeekin's splendid July 1914 unravels all the shenanigans, bluffs and bunglings by which Europe's leaders and diplomats turned a minor murder in a Balkans backwater into total war ... There are scenes in July 1914 that linger long after the cover is closed.'
Sunday Express||'McMeekin shows us precisely why the conflict happened ... [he] tells these stories with clarity and skill, drawing expert portraits of all the characters involved.'
Mail on Sunday||'Learned, punchy and enjoyable ... the book reads like a crime drama.'
London Review of Books||'A refreshingly original counterpoint to the traditional focus'
Prospect||'A shocking history, told with edgy, angry authority.'
Saga Magazine||'Sean McMeekin, in July 1914, [offers a] new perspective ... McMeekin has chosen the zoom lens. He opens with a crisp but vivid reconstruction of the double murder in the sunshine of Sarajevo, then concentrates entirely on unraveling the choreography day by day.'
New York Times Book Review||'[A] detailed account of the events and decisions that marked the road to war'
Times Higher Education||'[McMeekin] has ... literary and historical skill to make this a page-turning read.'
Literary Review||[A] superbly researched political history of the weeks between the assassination of Austria’s Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the beginning of World War I.... McMeekin’s work is a fine diplomatic history of the period, a must-read for serious students of WWI, and a fascinating story for anyone interested in modern history.’
Publishers Weekly||'McMeekin’s chronicle of these weeks in July 1914: Countdown to War is almost impossible to put down.... [McMeekin] delivers a punchy and riveting narrative of high politics and diplomacy over the five weeks after Sarajevo, more or less day by day, dwelling on small groups of decision-makers in and between the various capitals, and their interactions, by turns measured, perplexed, cordial, artful, angry, even tearful.'
The New York Review of Books||'[A] thoroughly rewarding account that spares no nation regarding the causes of World War I.... McMeekin delivers a gripping, almost day-by-day chronicle of the increasingly frantic maneuvers of European civilian leaders who mostly didn’t want war and military leaders who had less objection.'
Kirkus Reviews||'Sean McMeekin is establishing himself as a—or even the—leading young historian of modern Europe. Here he turns his gifts to the outbreak of war in July 1914 and has written another masterpiece.'
author of World War Two: A Short History||'Alluding to historical controversies, McMeekin ably delivers what readers demand from a WWI-origins history: a taut rendition of the July 1914 crisis.'||'Blending scholarly research with a breezy and descriptive writing style, McMeekin makes a reader feel like a firsthand witness to the key events of that fateful summer ... a primer for today’s diplomats on how not to allow a small event to spiral out of control into a major war.'
Columbus Dispatch||'A fascinating account'
author of Prussia||'[McMeekin's] research skills are obviously admirable and his sources are impressive ... this is an excellent account of the days between the Sarajevo assassination and the outbreak of the First World War.'
The European Royal History Journal||‘This is a meticulously researched and vividly written reconstruction of the decisions that led to war in July 1914. McMeekin captures the human drama of this fateful month and offers a provocative assessment of the different players’ moral responsibility.’||‘Winners write the histories, so wars are misunderstood. Sean McMeekin takes a wider stance to get a fresh angle of vision on The Great War, and casts all war-making in a new light.’||‘Sean McMeekin has given us a riveting and fast-paced account of some of the most important diplomatic and military decisions of the 20th century. He depicts with chilling clarity the confusion, the incompetence, and the recklessness with which Europe’s leaders went to war in that fateful summer. Any understanding of the world we inhabit today must begin with an examination of the events of July 1914. McMeekin provides his readers with a balanced and detailed analysis of the events that gave birth to the modern age.’