The origins of the First World War: controversies and consensus

Mombauer, Annika (2002). The origins of the First World War: controversies and consensus. UK: Pearson.



The origins of the First World War have occupied and intrigued historians for decades, and, nearly ninety years after its outbreak, continue to pose challenging questions. This book explains why the search for an explanation of the outbreak of the war has been both obsessive and challenging, and why it has continued to be difficult to establish the precise reason for war breaking out in 1914. The origins of the First World War are a particularly telling example of the connection between history-writing and contemporary political concerns, as this book demonstrates.
Germany necessarily occupies a central part in this account. Having been blamed for causing the war, it was here that most effort was expended to counter such allegations. However, the actions of other belligerents are also under scrutiny, and interpretations of the role of Austria-Hungary, Britain, France, Russia and Serbia in the events that led to war are analysed.
This book provides an overview of the events that led to the outbreak of war in 1914, followed by a historiographical analysis highlighting the debate during and immediately after the war; the reactions of so-called revisionists and anti-revisionists to the Treaty of Versailles, both in Europe and in the USA; the new consensus following the Second World War; and the challenges posed to that new orthodoxy by Fritz Fischer and his theses. It concludes with an examination of the last decades of scholarship on the topic, and introduces some of the most recent debates on the subject.

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