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The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East by Rogan, Eugene (2015) Hardcover
The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East by Rogan, Eugene (2015) Hardcover
von Eugene Rogan
  Gebundene Ausgabe

4.0 von 5 Sternen Best single-volume account of the most tumultuous and least understood fronts of the Great War, 8. Oktober 2015
The centenary of the Great War has opened the floodgates for books on every aspect of the conflict. Many focus on subjects that have been amply covered before'the origins of the conflict and the grim slaughter on the eastern and western fronts as well as the ill-fated Dardanelles campaign'and add little to our knowledge of the war. Eugene Rogan's latest work, The Fall of the Ottomans, is a rare exception in its concentration on a neglected and important period of the conflict. It is the only work of its kind that treats all the fronts in the Middle East, even the minor ones in Aden and western Egypt and the lesser known actions in the Caucasus and Persia (present-day Iran). Rogan tells a complex story enriched by many revealing vignettes, drawing much of his information from Ottoman Turkish and Arab sources little known in the west. His judicious and detailed account, keen sense of drama, and fluid prose make this book a joy to read.

The opening chapter covers the years 1908'13, concentrating on the revolution that brought the Young Turks to power, the wars against foreign states that resulted in substantial loss of territory, and the Ottoman reformers' abandonment of liberal values in favor of a policy of forced integration of subject nationalities in a desperate bid to preserve the empire. The next section describes the events that drove the Ottomans to cast their lot with Germany. Rogan stresses that they had no desire to become involved in the European war sparked by the assassination of the Austrian Archduke. But fear of the imminent dismemberment of the Empire by the Entente Powers drove them into cooperating with Germany, thereby transforming the fighting in Europe into a truly worldwide conflict.

After Turkey's entry into the war, the sultan Mehmed V attempted to incite a global jihad among the Muslims in Allied territory, but his call, though initially causing anxiety among the British and French, in fact backfired and stirred the Arabs to revolt, demonstrating that nationalism trumped militant religious solidarity.

The Allies held the mistaken belief that taking the war to the enfeebled Ottoman Empire would bring a quick victory. Their low regard for the fighting qualities of the Turkish soldiers seemed to be confirmed by the near destruction of Enver Pasha's army when its flanking movement against the Russians at Sarikamis in the Caucasus broke down in December 1914, as well as by the almost effortless repulse of the Ottoman advance on the Suez Canal in February 1915. As stalemate gripped the western front, the British, assisted by the French, launched a naval attack to force the Dardanelles Straits in a bid to hasten the end of the war. If successful, it was assumed that Turkey would capitulate, the Balkan states would forsake their neutrality, Austria would be exposed to attacks from the east, and a warm-water route to Russia would be opened.

Visions of such putative strategic benefits, however, obscured the unsoundness of the plan. The naval attack was halted on 18 March after undiscovered mines in the Straits sank three battleships and disabled three cruisers. A landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula followed a month later. In defense of their homeland, the Turks showed an iron will and, brilliantly led by German officers and provided with adequate provisions and war supplies, kept the invaders pinned to the beaches. Rogan notes that, besides Turkish resistance and the rough terrain, British soldiers had to contend with hardships such as extreme heat, pestilential flies, lack of water, and dysentery. A second landing in August likewise failed to dislodge the Turks and in December the operation was aborted. Apart from the staggering casualties on both sides, the Dardanelles campaign is remembered for the exceptional bravery of the Anzac troops and the military exploits of a Turkish soldier named Mustafa Kemal, who was destined to be the postwar leader of his country.

The British found themselves in a similar quagmire in Mesopotamia owing to lack of manpower resources and logistical infrastructure. What began as a minor landing at the head of the Persian Gulf to protect British oil interests morphed into a full-fledged campaign to capture Baghdad. A British and Indian army under Gen. Charles Townshend advanced in stages up the Tigris and Euphrates, only to be halted at Ctesiphon and forced back to Kut al-Amara, where it was surrounded and forced to surrender after running out of food. Never before had so large a British force laid down its arms. The officers were separated from the common soldiers and were well treated, enjoying decent accommodation and certain privileges like servants to do the cooking. The brutality meted out to the men in the ranks was in stark contrast to the comfortable existence of the officers. Of the nearly ten thousand men who surrendered only about three thousand survived the war. The rest, beaten on the least pretext and deprived of the necessities to survive, died en route to prisoner of war camps or in Ottoman captivity. Rogan uses eyewitness testimony to show the type of savage treatment to which the prisoners were subjected. One such source, describing the death marches, wrote: "It was horrible sight to see our boys driven along by rifle-butt and whip. Some of them were beaten until they dropped. One naval brigade man never rose again. If you said anything you were whipped yourself" (271). Townshend's surrender, coming on the heels of the Dardanelles debacle, sent shock waves through the Island Kingdom.

Bent on promoting loyalty among their Empire's diverse ethnicities as they faced an invasion on three fronts, the Ottomans turned against the Armenians, whom they suspected of making common cause with the Entente Powers. A law passed in May 1915 authorizing the Ottoman government to deport anyone deemed a threat to national security was aimed at exterminating the Armenians. Throughout the summer and fall, Armenians were rounded up and barbarically slaughtered. Some were pushed over cliffs or drowned in rivers, while others were burned alive or taken outside their towns and shot. Most were sent on death marches through the desert without food or water, often forced to strip naked and walk under the scorching sun until they dropped dead from exhaustion and dehydration. As the Turks had no interest in burying their victims, the countryside was littered with decomposing corpses. No less than one million Armenians perished at the hands of the Turks. The women and children who somehow survived the ordeal were forced to give up their identity and convert to Islam.

Despite the irrefutable evidence, Turkish governments since 1919 have denied that their wartime leaders unleashed the first genocide of the twentieth century. Rogan approaches this emotional issue with laudable scholarly disinterest in a meticulous, well documented account free of anti-Turkish animus. He musters a wealth of eyewitness reports to rebut Turkish claims that such Armenian deaths as occurred were an unintended consequence of war rather than the result of deliberate government policies. Rogan admits that the Ottomans had reason to fear that Russia and its partners meant to carve out large chunks of their state in complicity with disaffected Christian minorities, especially Armenians. He insists, however, that such a justification in no way exonerates the Turkish authorities of crimes against humanity.

The British army's numerical and overwhelming artillery superiority, together with its improved generalship, allowed it to resume the initiative in the Ottoman theaters beginning in December 1916. Under Gen. Stanley Maude, an outstanding organizer, the British army in Mesopotamia moved up the Tigris, forced the Ottomans to abandon Kut, and captured Baghdad in March 1917.

In Palestine, Gen. Edmund Allenby, emulating Maude's careful preparations, advanced slowly and, after defeating the Ottomans at Beershaba and Gaza, entered Jerusalem early in December 1917. Pausing until late summer 1918, Allenby resumed his offensive northward, driving into Syria, capturing key positions along the way, and routing an Ottoman force at the battle of Megiddo before occupying Damascus in October. Facing little resistance, Allenby's men continued their sweep northward, reaching Aleppo on 26 October. The destruction of the Ottoman army in Syria ended the war in the Middle East.

Rogan's chapters on the second stage of operations in the Ottoman theaters, shifting seamlessly from one front to another, are arguably among the most effective in his long narrative. Particularly revealing is his treatment of Enver Pasha's efforts to secure and expand the Empire in the Caucasus while Russia was being torn apart by revolution and civil war. Turkish forces moved into territory lost to the Russians earlier in the conflict and reclaimed three provinces ceded to Russia in 1877. In the long run, Enver's initiative was a terrible mistake. By denuding his already insecure fronts of vital troops, he made it easier for Allenby to break through the Ottoman lines.

In his concluding chapter, Rogan examines two important issues in the immediate postwar period in the Middle East. The first was the settlement the Allies forced on the powerless Turkish central government, which called for, among other things, the partition of Anatolia. The draconian terms triggered a backlash across Turkey and led to the rise of Mustafa Kemal, the hero of Gallipoli, who created a movement aimed at renegotiating the peace treaty and overthrowing the Ottoman government that signed it. Kemal rallied his partisans, defeated each of the foreign armies on Turkish soil, and, as head of state, signed a new treaty under which the victorious powers essentially recognized the present boundaries of the Republic.

On the second matter, Rogan adds his voice to those of hundreds of other scholars regarding the British effort to reconcile the partition plans negotiated in the course of the war with the confusing and contradictory promises made to Sharif Husayn of the Hijaz for his military support. Husayn felt betrayed and refused to accept much of Britain's postwar settlement, thus forfeiting its protection. Left on his own, he was no match for the Saudis who invaded the Hijaz and completed its conquest in 1925.

The book has its shortcomings. There are not enough maps and those it does include are often insufficiently detailed. A discussion of the lasting social effects of the war on the Empire would have broken new ground without adding many pages. Then too, Rogan's unfortunate omission to consult and cite collections in the Ottoman archives precludes a more complete picture of the Young Turks' decision-making. Lastly, he is wrong to refute the standard interpretation of the origins of the Dardanelles campaign. He claims that the moving spirit behind the attack on the Dardanelles was Kitchener, not Churchill. He writes: "From the outset Kitchener advocated a naval operation against the Turks" (130). And again: "It is ironic that, to this day, Churchill takes the blame for Gallipoli when Kitchener was clearly the campaign's most influential decision maker" (189). It is true that Kitchener, in response to the Russian army commander's request for a demonstration to relieve pressure on his forces in the Caucasus, asked Churchill on 2 January 1915 whether the navy could offer assistance since he could spare no troops. But a few days later at Sarikamis, the Russians foiled Enver's maneuver in the midst of a blizzard and practically destroyed his eighty-thousand-man army. Kitchener was apprised of the Russian victory on 5 January and the event was announced in several London newspapers that evening.

As the reason for a naval demonstration had disappeared, Kitchener gave the matter no further thought. But Churchill, eager for some kind of success that would bolster his sagging reputation, hit on the idea of forcing the Straits with ships alone. He gave Kitchener the impression that the plan had the backing of the Admirals'which was not the case'and assured him that, if the attack proved too difficult, it could be treated as a demonstration and abandoned without loss of prestige. Kitchener went along, for, as he would tell one of his aides, "This is a Naval matter. I must take it from the Naval Experts." Backed by Kitchener, Churchill received the War Council's approval to carry out his plan. His action at the start of the naval operation was inexcusable and ranks as one of the most serious blunders of the war. Without the approval of either the Prime Minister or War Council, he issued a press communiqué announcing the success of the opening day's naval bombardment against the Turkish forts at the entrance of the Straits, with Constantinople as the ultimate objective. He made such a big show that there could be no turning back without serious loss of face in the event of a naval failure'which is what happened. Fearful that a British defeat might provoke an uprising among Muslims in India and Egypt, Kitchener tried to pull the navy's chestnuts out of the fire with far few troops and after the Turks had already been alerted. Predictably, the campaign resulted in heavy loss of life and lengthened the war, possibly by as much as a year. All because of Churchill's obsessive desire for personal glory. He deserves virtually all the blame for the disaster in the Dardanelles.

At more than four hundred pages in length, The Fall of the Ottomans is a comprehensive treatment of its subject and Rogan may be forgiven for his few sins of omission and commission. His book is the best single-volume account of the most tumultuous and least understood fronts of the Great War. Rather than the weakest link among Germany's allies, the Turks proved to be tougher and more determined than many had imagined and held out until the bitter end. I would have given this book 4.5 stars.


Islam and Nazi Germany's War by David Motadel (25-Nov-2014) Hardcover
Islam and Nazi Germany's War by David Motadel (25-Nov-2014) Hardcover

4.0 von 5 Sternen A fine work with also some unanswered questions, 24. August 2015
This ambitious, well researched study explores under-publicized German efforts to "promote an alliance with the Muslim world against their alleged common enemies, most notably the British Empire, the Soviet Union, and the Jews" (1). David Motadel (Univ. of Cambridge) has gathered a trove of engaging materials from over thirty archives in fourteen countries; his footnotes occupy nearly a third of his book. It is an important story well told. Yet, something is missing.

Despite the conjunction in its title, this is rather a history of Islam in Nazi Germany's wartime thinking and propaganda. Motadel is not especially concerned with how various groups of Muslims welcomed, resisted, or just ignored Germany's efforts to engage them against the Allied powers, both western and Soviet. There is little here about Muslim views of Nazism, beyond those expressed by a few disaffected intellectuals and prominent collaborators who made the trip to see the Führer. This is, rather, a tale of Islam's place in the worldview of leading Nazi "thinkers" and commanders in the Wehrmacht and the Waffen SS.

Motadel establishes that Muslims became relevant to Berlin only in 1941–42, in direct response to the Reich's shifting battlefield fortunes in the Middle East, the Balkans, and especially on the Eastern Front. The end of easy victories during deep territorial penetrations by German armies made several Muslim-populated regions key arenas of operations within a wider strategic world war. For a brief period in late 1942, these new war zones seemed poised to become decisive theaters in the war. Motadel is less concerned with the Muslim response to Nazi outreach than in the reconceptualization of Islam by top Nazi leaders eager to solve their short-term military manpower problems and incipient political crises in Germany.

The author demonstrates that this change in German thinking did not reflect long-range military or strategic planning, but only the "pragmatic" near-term exigencies of total mobilization (2–3, 219–44). The Nazi leadership—including Heinrich Himmler and Hitler himself—pivoted from prewar indifference (not hostility) to Islam, to overt courtship of the Muslim world, conceived as a monolith defined by religion rather than race or geography. The new policy position was manifested in high-level meetings with Muslim collaborators (most famously, the Grand Mufti); the building of mosques in POW camps and in German-occupied territories; (mostly futile) efforts to foment Muslim rebellions in Allied-controlled colonies and rear areas; and, most significantly, the recruitment of tens of thousands of Muslims into the Wehrmacht and Waffen SS. Motadel's discussion of these matters makes an important contribution to the wider story of the attempts by the major belligerents, including Italy and Japan, to appeal to Muslims as the war went on amid appalling and unsustainable rates of attrition.

The book comprises three parts. The first, "Foundations," documents strategic and ideological debates about the potential place of Islam in the National Socialist New Order and in the German military. Motadel traces German attitudes about Islam from the late nineteenth century, highlighting Imperial Germany's effort during World War I to provoke and promote jihadist revolts among populations subject to Allied rule. Starting in 1941, he contends, wartime Germany's military needs made an alliance with Muslims against the Allies an attractive prospect, made palatable in part by Hitler's own longtime (if shallow and ill-informed) admiration of Islam as a "warrior religion." Motadel confirms that Hitler's inattention to Muslim lands while his armies were winning battles was transformed into active interest as the fortunes of war turned against him.

Readers interested principally in military history may find this section of the book unrewarding. But it provides an essential discussion of prewar and early war memoranda and internal policy papers that foreshadowed the ideological and pragmatic embrace of Muslims as possible military and strategic assets: "Germany's involvement with Islam ... had not been planned. It developed over the course of the war and gradually involved more and more war zones and parts of the regime" (54). The ultimately deluded interest in a Nazi-Islamic alliance was made possible in part by the uniform absence of anti-Islamic attitudes among leading Nazis, up to and including Himmler and Hitler.

Part II, "Muslims in the War Zones," concerns German policies and propaganda in Muslim areas occupied (or thought likely to be) by 1941. It also describes Wehrmacht policies regarding Muslim prisoners and Muslim populations still behind Soviet or British lines. Propaganda aimed at these groups depicted Nazi Germany as the true defender of Islam. Accordingly, German soldiers were instructed to respect local religious practices ranging from daily prayers to fasting and dietary restrictions. From the Caucasus to North Africa, German commanders permitted Muslim holiday observances and religious endowments (waqf) and built or repaired mosques and madrasas with the aim of undermining Allied rule.

This effort was especially important and extensive in Soviet areas, where more Germans engaged more Muslims over a longer time without the intermediation of governing colonial powers like, for example, Italy in North Africa. Motadel's main topic here is propaganda, from leaflets (wasted on largely illiterate populations in the Middle East) to shortwave radio broadcasts (also ineffective, as most Arabs lacked receivers), and direct recruitment, initially by the Wehrmacht and later the Waffen SS. While the research and documentation here are impressive, the author spends far too much time on this fruitless propaganda campaign.

Part III, "Muslims in the Army," will be of particular interest to readers of military history. Having laid the ideological groundwork and painfully cognizant of soaring military casualties, Nazi leaders authorized recruiters to bring tens of thousands of Muslims from the Balkans, North Africa, and the Soviet Union into the war in German uniforms. Though he discusses mobilization of Muslims from all the German-occupied territories, Motadel frustratingly gives no clear indication of overall numbers of recruits. Despite the mandated accommodation of Muslim religious practices, Nazi race-war (Rassenkampf) theory and practices complicated matters: for instance, while Roma converts to Islam were victims of mass killings, other Muslim Roma were recruited into auxiliary "Tatar" units. The façade of tolerance of and respect for Islam was replaced by lethal hostility toward Crimean Tatars as the Wehrmacht retreated from the East.

This pattern of political considerations yielding to realities of wartime need recurred in the Balkans, where the SS enthusiastically recruited Bosnian and Albanian Muslims despite the objections of Germany's vicious fascist ally, the Croatian Ustaša, and local Italian authorities. As the manpower needs of the SS trumped anti-Islamic hostility, many other Muslims were given German uniforms and weapons: Crimean, Turkestani, Volga Tatar, Chechen, and Caucasian SS units were formed on the Eastern Front, joining those from Albania and Bosnia. By 1943, there were dozens of Muslim battalions within the Wehrmacht and Waffen SS. Three of these fought at Stalingrad; others defended Berlin in the last days of the Third Reich; still others served in France and Italy and across the Caucasus and Balkans. Many thousands of Muslims died fighting for Hitler and Nazism. Or did they? Motadel says almost nothing about the motivations of these volunteers, beyond shallow suppositions about "material interests" and men's hope "to protect their families and villages." He writes that "ideology and political motivations also played a role" (221–22), but gives no particulars. Then it's back to German ideas, German plans, German documents.

By January 1944, the Nazis' need for troops was so urgent that Himmler ramped up the recruitment of Muslims, especially in the USSR, into the Waffen SS—"one of the greatest mobilization campaigns of Muslims led by a non-Muslim power in history" (219). Motadel mentions only in passing the much larger numbers of Muslims who fought within Allied armies during the war. Free French units drew on manpower reserves (over 233,000 men) from West and North Africa; these men fought across North Africa and then into southern Europe and Germany itself. The Red Army recruited many troops from the Soviet Union's twenty million Muslims. British units in Palestine, Transjordan, Libya, and Egypt included Muslim soldiers, who also constituted the largest religious contingent in the two-million-man Indian Army. But even in a section of the book ostensibly devoted to military mobilization, the closing chapters, "Islam and Politics in the Units" and "Islam and Military Propaganda," revert yet again to the author's central interest—how Germans conceptualized and instrumentalized their turn toward Islam.

Islam and Nazi Germany's War is a fine work of scholarship that clarifies the role of the people of Islamic territories in various theaters of World War II. For this reason alone, it should be read by anyone seeking a discerning treatment of the topic. But, while David Motadel has cogently explained how all the major belligerents, Nazi Germany included, sought to bend Islam to their own strategic needs and vision, he leaves his reader to wonder how the Muslim populations themselves responded to those efforts. Were they zealous, indifferent, or merely bewildered by the tsunami of war and death devastating their troubled lands and lives? These questions remain unanswered.


[(Gallipoli: Command Under Fire)] [Author: Edward J. Erickson] published on (March, 2015)
[(Gallipoli: Command Under Fire)] [Author: Edward J. Erickson] published on (March, 2015)
von Edward J. Erickson
  Gebundene Ausgabe

5.0 von 5 Sternen Despite being a disaster, 11. Juni 2015
Despite being a disaster, the Gallipoli campaign has acquired iconic status . Books and films continue to pour out on the ill-fated campaign. Facts, myths and legends jockey for space. It is no surprise therefore that many books about the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign are being published this year to commemorate the centenary of the attempt to break the deadlock on the Western Front. It proved to be overambitious. Churchill's master plan turned out to be a momentous folly. The force size was never remotely large enough, there was no evidence that a coup in Turkey would materialize resulting in a government favorably inclined to the Allies, and there was never a possibility that, if successful, Russia could have been supplied with sufficient materiel to enable her to win on the Eastern front.

The campaign, in contrast to the Western front, has been glamourised and romanticized in ways similar to T E Lawrence's exploits with the Arabs. The Hellenic environment seems to have distorted reality for the conditions were every bit as nasty as in Flanders, in certain respects they were worse. For example, because the beachheads were so narrow, rest and recovery breaks were impossible.

By 1915, siege warfare based on trenches, wire, artillery and machine gun had set in on this front but not, of course, on the Eastern Front. The attack on the Dardnelles by an Anglo-French fleet began on February 19, 1915 With a bombardment of the outer forts. This, apart from a few breaks, continued over the next three weeks. At the same time, attempts were made to clear minefields in the Straits. It is well known that these operations failed, and by March it was decided to land troops near the Dardanelles. Sir Ian Hamilton would command it. Meanwhile, having been given ample warning of the Entente's intentions, the Turks created a new field army (the 5th) and appointed General Liman von Sanders, a German, to lead it.

The Dardanelles is a 61km strait between Europe and Asiatic Turkey. Its maximum width is 7km, and in the area called the Narrows, it is only 1,600m. The Straits are overlooked by very rugged cliffs over 1,000 feet high. The terrain is riddled with ridges and gullies. In brief, ideal for fighting if you are the defender. Add to this searing heat or freezing cold, millions of flies and an environment conducive to malaria, dysentery and numerous other debilitating illnesses.

The landing on April 25 by the British 29th Division on several beaches which became known as the Helles sector was followed by French landings and ANZAC landings. All suffered very heavy casualties from Turkish forces dug in on the heights overlooking the narrow beaches. What followed has been recorded ad nausea, and therefore needs no recounting here save to say it was a disaster, and eventually evacuation took place between December 1915 and January 1916. Despite appalling conditions, this part of the campaign was, overall, carried out efficiently. It included the killing of around 530 mules. Many thousands had gone there to be used as pack animals. In 1944, the campaign was studied in depth when Overlord was being planned.

There was serious fault-finding in British decision - making, not only the naval and military dimensions but the political too. There is ample evidence of military incompetence of which much can be explained. Briefly, amphibious operations are the most difficult of all and not one senior commander had any experience of them; because of a shortage of officers, many senior army officers had to be recalled from retirement to take part in a hostile environment which was alien in terms of their previous experience, many had never commanded forces above brigade level; none had experience of trench warfare; or dealing with logistical problems which were a major cause of failure as they are in many operations. These were enormous in scale and subject to the vagaries of vast distances and dreadful weather; and joint operations were often extremely badly planned and executed. The ANZAC forces were, contrary to legend and the writings of Bean, poorly trained and ill disciplined.

Why then another book on what many regard as a futile campaign? The answer is because the author has written a book that has long been needed. There are books galore on the tactics, battles, strategy and political aspects of the Gallipoli campaign. What we have awaited is a book by a distinguished retired American officer, now an academic, that examines the operational level of the campaign. Erikson's aim is to fill the gap which exists at the operational level of war by examining command and control at field army and corps level. The operational level for non military readers is concerned with military campaigns which are designed to link tactical actions to strategic aims. Napoleon is often said to have been a superb practitioner at this level.

Erikson seeks an answer to what extent did command and control (that is decision making and the execution of them) at the operational level affect the outcome of the campaign. Similar studies are available for the Western Front. In brief, the book is ' a campaign analysis of how operational commanders made decisions; balanced ends, ways and means; and attempted - or in some cases failed- to influence the outcome'. He also details a useful list of previous accounts pointing out that almost all concentrate on British operations. He explains how over the years the various generations of the Gallipoli history have advanced different ideas, views and opinions about the campaign. These range from the view that British success was possible on at least three occasions, to the view put forward by Moorhead and others that leadership was faulty, and that the whole strategic concept was flawed, to the idea based on new primary sources that questioned Churchill's version of events, and blamed logistical problems and muddled planning for failure. All these versions are Eurocentric. The blame invariably was, according to these accounts, owing to Allied weaknesses not Turkish superiority. The Turks won it was said because there were more of them and Germans trained them. Of course, after the war Churchill and Hamilton were at pains to write accounts that excused their failings.

In very recent years there has been a sea change. Now, using hitherto unavailable Turkish sources, it is clear that the Turks won because their training was superior, their command and control was infinitely better, they fought from well prepared defensive positions, and they displayed exceptional bravery and resilience in battle. In examining this, the author uses operation orders, messages, war diaries, to detail a chronological narrative that links Allied and Ottoman actions as closely as possible in time and space. Erikson focuses on how those in command planned and executed their operations, and how they adapted when necessary. His overall thesis is that the Ottoman Army won because, ' at the operational level, it's commanders demonstrated a more effective understanding and employment of command and control than its Allied adversaries '. To use Montgomery's term their commanders had more 'grip'. The author marshals his evidence very convincingly to produce a fresh account of a campaign that, frankly, has become over the years rather stale and repetitive.

There has never been a satisfactory explanation of why the Allies failed in Gallipoli. Blame has been placed on Churchill, ' donkey' commanders, poor planning, disease, logistics, poor naval - military coordination, and the terrain. The non use of thousands of Turkish resources has served to prolong the search for an explanation. It is worth noting that Turkish officers and men did not keep diaries, since this was not a cultural tradition in the Ottoman empire. Only recently have some key German documents become available. The campaign on both sides was a multinational one. Indians fought on the British side, Serbs, Jews and Greeks fought with the Turks. It is vital, therefore, that we have an *international* evaluation of Gallipoli. As in every war, internal and external factors must be taken into account when searching for explanations. Politics, personalities, 'friction', morale, leadership and nationalism all played a part.

By giving us a new perspective on a campaign that failed to achieve any of its objectives, this account of a bloody mission is very welcome. I would have welcomed more on the failure in London to appreciate the strength of the enemy. Too many believed that the armed forces of the 'Sick Man of Europe' would be a push over.

The campaign cost the Turks and her allies 251,309 casualties, including 87,000 dead. The French lost 10,000, the British 21,000, New Zealand 2,701 died, 4,752 were wounded. Proportionally, New Zealand losses were the highest. The Australians lost 27,500 of whom 7,800 died. It is worth noting that: more than twice as many British soldiers died (26,000) in the campaign as Australians, and the British lost as many dead in one day on the Somme in 1916.

After the campaign had ended in failure, Winston Churchill continued to maintain that the Allies could have won, and the course of the war transformed, if only the Generals had been bolder and more competent. It was a typical Churchillian illusion. Lloyd George described him as mad. Churchill had to resign as First Lord and go to France as a battalion commander. He did not serve in the government again until 1917. Many politicians never forgave him. In the Second World War he nearly drove the British Chiefs of Staff mad with his mad-cap proposals. Some were unbelievable. If anyone doubts this they should read the Alanbrooke War Diaries. He was an outstanding CIGS for most of the war and chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee. His relationship with Winston was turbulent but fruitful. A master strategist who had to keep Churchill's imagination and inspired energy in check, often at 4am at the side of Winston's bed

To really understand what this campaign involved a good map (s) is essential. The ones provided here are good as are the end notes.


It's the Economy, Stupid: Economics for Voters
It's the Economy, Stupid: Economics for Voters
von Vicky Pryce
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 20,50

4.0 von 5 Sternen The book is refreshingly balanced in political terms., 19. März 2015
A major problem with books that attempt to simplify economics is they leave the reader with the impression that economic issues are very straightforward and therefore easy to resolve. On the whole, this book avoids doing that.

The book includes some of the usual topics: health, taxes, productivity, discrimination, and so on. Politics and social issues appear alongside economic ones. Each issue is dealt with in sufficient detail to help the reader grasp the bare bones of what is at stake but, understandably, awkward aspects are omitted. Many readers will be pleased to see that mathematics do not intrude too often, and then only in very simple form. Of course, this again means that complex issues are made to appear simple. Economists use complex maths to develop their theories. The book is refreshingly balanced in political terms.

The title is not new, the authors state it was first used by James Carville, Clinton's campaign strategist. He did use it but in fact it was first used over 70 years ago by a French politician. Among hundreds of jokes about economists a favourite one is that if you ask three economists a question you will get four answers. Most jokes include the economist saying, "It all depends." Acceptable unemployment means that the government minister for whom it is acceptable still has a job. A man tells a shepherd he can tell him exactly how many sheep are in his huge flock. The shepherd says if you are right I will let you take one of my sheep for free. The man says there are 473. The shepherd says incredible, take a sheep. The man does and begins to walk away. Just one question, says the shepherd. If I can guess your occupation can we make it double or quits .? Yes is the reply. You are an economist, says the shepherd. Right, how on earth did you know? The shepherd says, put down my dog.

I would have liked to have seen a chapter on economic forecasting. This is notoriously difficult, it is much easier to forecast the weather. All economic projections need to be taken with a very big pinch of salt. Those beyond two years are frankly worthless. Also, any needs to be aware that to make economics really comprehensible you need a knowledge of psychology. Many economic theories are just that, theories. People often act in ways that owe nothing to rational thinking.


The Schlieffen Plan: International Perspectives on the German Strategy for World War I (Foreign Military Studies)
The Schlieffen Plan: International Perspectives on the German Strategy for World War I (Foreign Military Studies)
von Hans Ehlert
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 71,06

5.0 von 5 Sternen A "gambler's throw", 29. Dezember 2014
All nations dread the prospect of fighting a two-front war. This situation faced Germany at the end of the 19th century for a vengeful France was now allied to Russia, a state gradually improving its rail system and massive armed forces.

Hence, the German General Staff were tasked with finding a solution to this problem should war occur. Based on a conference in 2004, this stimulating book comprising a series of studies by well known authorities in the field examines the war plans of the major powers plus, perhaps surprisingly, those of Switzerland. The authors have been able to study newly released archives. The result is more clarification of the planning for war prior to 1914.

The contributions include a study of the alliance system, the growing international tensions in the late 19th century, and the plans that were drawn up to be used in the event of a European war.

Of particular importance, is the so-called Schlieffen Plan because this has been the subject of numerous studies and debates, particularly since the publication of Ritter's work and that of Zuber in 2002, who argued there was no plan as such.

A particular focus is on the claims after 1918 by some German military authorities that the war had been lost because of the plan's inherent weaknesses.

Schlieffen's ideas have gradually been examined in their own rights and, most importantly, in their proper historical context. As a result, a more nuanced view of his ideas has developed, this book is the latest example of this. We now know that Shlieffen's influence and impact was not as hitherto argued all pervasive. The nature and organisation of the Imperial German Army combined to make his influence more subtle and his impact more discreet than has been assumed.

The German General Staff was only one of the many actors in the government that has been described as an "authoritarian polycracy." Several centres jockeyed for influence and power. The General Staff also had to contend with rivalry from within the army. Schlieffen therefore had a lot to face when he became Chief in 1891. In addition, he was faced with a radical shift in German foreign policy under the new Chancellor, Leo von Caprivi. Russia was no longer tied to Germany. France stepped In and concluded a military convention with Russia. The strategic nightmare now came true.

It is clear now that the plan was in fact a series of studies based largely on staff rides. It is equally evident that the final version was only slightly like the one quoted in most books on the war.

Regards failure. The strategy adopted was very risky and based on several assumptions,many of which proved to be false. It was in part a "gambler's throw." It was also inflexible to a dangerous degree. However, the key reason why it failed, given the size of the armies involved and the timetables that had to be adhered to, was logistics. The effort needed to move 1,750,000 troops plus provisions for them and hundreds of horses over long distances from the rail head was immense. To then defeat the French in six weeks before turning eastwards to fight the Russians was to ask for miracles. Fog and friction inevitably took their toll. Moltke's revisions in 1905 were not the reason for failure. The book brings out also the failure to coordinate Germany's plans and those of Austria-Hungary. Neither knew their ally's war plans.

Much in these pages is not new, nevertheless it is still a fine, absorbing account.


Constructing East Asia: Technology, Ideology, and Empire in Japan's Wartime Era, 1931-1945
Constructing East Asia: Technology, Ideology, and Empire in Japan's Wartime Era, 1931-1945
von Aaron Moore
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 52,50

5.0 von 5 Sternen Timely book considering the recent explosion of nationalist passions in other East Asian countries., 21. November 2014
Aaron Moore's discerning and persuasive book helps to understand Japan's failed attempt to develop an East Asian empire.

When I grew up I remember that, during the 1990s, students from top-notch business schools flocked to Japan to learn firsthand the secret of its business culture. Aaron Moore however reminds us that, in the pre-World War II period, Japanese technology facilitated a system of imperial power and repressive colonialism as part of an ideology--"technological imaginary" (3). He "expands the conventional modernization narrative of technology as an abstract, universal force for progress and prosperity by analyzing how a technological imaginary was formulated not only in relation to domestic capitalist development and wartime mobilization but also in close relation to colonial expansion and rule.... Japanese elites actively incorporated utopian notions of technology ... into their fascist ideologies" (3, 7).

In chapter 1, "Revolutionary Technologies of Life," Moore notes that Saigusa Hiroto, a philosopher of science, observed that the term "technology" (gijutsu) had become prominent in Japan's public discourse only in the mid-1930s, as the state began to mobilize engineers, technicians, and skilled workers for the "construction of Asia" (21); at the same time, a debate among intellectuals over the meaning of technology raged across the political spectrum. Two main schools of thought emerged: on the one hand,far right-wing ideologues and politicians pushing for a Shōwa Restoration viewed technology as something that was steadily eroding Japan's spiritual vigor, as well as traditional emperor-centered values of community and agrarianism, or tried to formulate a unique "Japanese Science and Technology." [On the other,] many engineers, bureaucrats, and businessmen viewed technology's spread throughout all areas of life as a key to resolving worsening social ills, and they campaigned vigorously for the introduction of rational techniques of management and administration throughout society. (21-22)

Chapter 2, "Technologies of Asian Development," illustrates how engineers became a prominent social force and shaped the intellectual discourse on technology. They pushed for a comprehensive national science and technology policy, and flocked to Japan's colonies to participate in research projects with the aim of developing Asia as well as elevating their own social status (64). Japanese engineers were aware of the intellectual debates taking place among Western thinkers like Thorstein Veblen, who maintained that technocrats had their own ethics of efficiency, performance, and community as opposed to the ethics of the "captains of finance" (68). Home Ministry engineer Miyamoto Takenosuke, for instance, was the ideological leader of Japan's engineering movement. He had managed colonial technology policy as head of the Asia Development Board's Technology Section and spearheaded engineers' efforts to create a wartime mobilization system and increase the responsibilities of engineers in wartime policymaking.

Chapter 3, "Constructing the Continent," analyzes how project engineers developed and employed technological imagery in Japan's wartime empire, particularly at three large-scale projects in Manchuria and China: they were involved in "constructing a major flood control project in southern Manchuria, an urban planning project in Beijing, and a dam-powered coastal urban industrial zone on the border between Korea and Manchukuo.... [U]rban planning in north China was conducted under the banner of pan-Asianist cooperation, which claimed to respect the particularity and uniqueness of Chinese cities while asserting the necessity of modern, comprehensive urban development ..." (106, 123). Despite official Japanese state propaganda touting a putative egalitarian pan-Asianism, the designers planned to build a 100-meter-wide "Asia Development Road" running through Beijing's city center to a 100-hectare "Yamato Square," where a "Yamato Altar" would symbolize the anti-Asian radical Shintō ultranationalist slogan "The Eight Corners of the World under One Roof" (125).

Chapter 4, "Damming the Empire," concerns two of Japan's most prominent wartime civil engineering projects--the Fengman Dam in Jilin Province, China, and the Sup'ung Dam at the Korean border with Liaoning Province, China. Since the dams were largely completed before the end of the war, "an analysis of them contributes greatly to our understanding of the relationship between technology and colonial power" (153). The dams were meant to generate hydroelectric power and control flooding, but, Moore argues, they were also very visible projections of imperial power that served to justify and entrench Japanese colonial rule.

In chapter 5, "Designing the Social Mechanism," Moore illustrates how the "reform bureaucrats" (kakushin kanryō, literally "renovationist bureaucrats") played a major role in shaping the significance of technology. He focuses on one of their chief ideologues, Mōri Hideoto, and demonstrates the predominant influence of a close-knit group of officials on Japan's economic policies and administrative planning both at home and in the empire between 1931 and 1941. Their central ideological goal was to create a "managed economy" (tōsei keizai) that would replace the inequalities of laissez-faire capitalism with a self-sufficient total war economic system.

In an incisive analysis, Moore reveals just how out of touch Japanese intellectuals, "conservative" engineers, reform bureaucrats, and other technocrats were with the true intellectual, political, material, and ideological conditions in Japan's East Asian empire. Mōri Hideoto, for example,began to implement [the reform bureaucrats'] program of a managed economy rooted in corporatist organizations among the people [and] incorporated some of the ideological framework and language of technology being articulated by technology bureaucrats, engineers, and intellectuals.... Although the reform bureaucrats were modernists committed to transforming Japan into an efficient and productive social mechanism based on vocation and advanced industry, at the same time they viewed this transformation as one more expression of an eternal Japanese spirit. (191, 208)

Moore notes that this fusion of technological rationality, comprehensive planning, and modern notions of productivity and efficiency with ethnic nationalism and right-wing ideologies has been referred to as "techno-fascism." But it is more a matter of fascism pure and simple, or what I call radical Shintō ultranationalism in Japan's case. British historian Roger Griffin has shown that National Socialism's preoccupation with a mythologized Aryan past went hand in hand with the intense modernization and astounding technological advances of the Third Reich, which appealed so strongly to many German academics in the natural and applied sciences. Griffin writes that the Nazi Revolution enabled scientists and technocrats to reconcile empirical and technological knowledge with a powerful, quasi-spiritual sense of national identity. Italian fascism, too, though often seen as a totally irrational revolutionary ideology, sought to construct a "Third Rome" through rapid industrialization. In this sense, Shintō ultranationalism was no different from German or Italian fascism.

Similarly, Moore writes that "Scholars have recently examined the role of science and technology in planning and justifying Japan's imperial rule across Asia and thereby challenged earlier views of war and empire as the product of spiritual fanaticism and a runaway military" (151). But the idea that the "spiritual fanaticism" of the radical Shintō fundamentalists represented a flight from modernity needs to be carefully examined. This is not a matter of denying that spiritualism helped justify Japan's imperial rule across Asia. Spiritual fanaticism could and did co-exist with scientific and rational technological planning--as it did in the minds of most Shintō fanatics. In other words, the real danger was that the spiritual fanaticisms of the Axis Powers were being combined with a scientific and technical mindset. It took not only two atomic bombs, but the--probably decisive--Russian entry into the war to destroy radical Shintō ultranationalism, a suicidal ideology that was driving Japan to total annihilation.

The author further shows that Mōri shamefully ignored the sheer brutality of Japan's war in China. No blending of State Shintōism and a "higher multiethnic East Asian nationalism" (218) could have united the Japanese with the Chinese and other peoples. Mōri's assertion that "such East Asian nationalism was an essential part of the Japanese nation, ... [which was] a 'plural nation'" (218) was simply preposterous. What "plurality" existed in the Japanese nation? Was Mōri unaware of the realities of Korean life under Japanese colonial rule? Equally fatuous is his notion that "Japan's multiethnic nationalism could 'fertilize' the Chinese national instinct and make possible the 'Symbiotic Body of East Asia'" (218). What basis could there be for multiethnic nationalism in a nation espousing wartime Shintō ideology, with its vision of the superior Yamato race (minzoku) at the apex of a rigid hierarchy, far above other, inferior "races" ranked in descending order depending upon their perceived ethnic capabilities? One wonders what the Japanese could have taught the Chinese about a multiethnic nationalism based on the ideal of equal relations and solidarity among Asians.

In Moore's analysis, Mōri made no serious attempt to square State Shintō ideology with an imagined "East Asian Nationalism" (218), which had no historical roots whatsoever. Paradoxically, the Japanese, who railed against Western influence, had no qualms about appropriating the word "Asia," a distinctly Western political construct. The shallow thinking of Japan's reformed bureaucrats and economists is stunning. Technology cannot compensate or substitute for values: people do not live and die for technology. Not surprisingly, then, the Japanese had no real East Asian allies in the war, even though they were supposedly fighting to foster Asian solidarity by expelling the West's ideologies of communism and liberal economic capitalism.

Japan's technocrats and military elites, including Army Minister Sugiyama Gen, had expected a quick victory--within two or three months--should war break out with China. They had imagined being greeted as liberators of the grateful Chinese and other Asians from the yoke of hated Western imperialism. After Western-style capitalism and communism were eradicated from East Asia, a New Order would be built on the pillars of pan-Asianism and Japanese technological wizardry. Mōri believed the 1937 China Incident (the so called Marco Polo Bridge Incident) signified the overcoming of the liberal capitalist world order and the formation of the mobilized, self-sufficient production economy through the national life organization" (208). Chiang Kai-shek interpreted the event far differently: when he heard that Gen. Song Zheyuan's troops had clashed with the Japanese, he wrote in his diary that "The dwarf bandits have attacked Lugouqiao."

As Moore points out, Mōri saw Japan's "world's historical mission" as the establishment of a new East Asian Nation free of Westerners and communism. Ironically, Japan's Greater East Asian War enabled the communists to come to power in China, furthered Western influence in the region, and completely destroyed Japan's radical Shintō world order. While some Japanese technocrats, engineers, and bureaucrats may have embraced a sincere, if deluded, belief that they were destined to liberate the Chinese from pernicious Western influences, it never occurred to them that Chinese nationalists might see Japan as posing a greater threat than the West. Incidents like the Nanjing massacre were the fruit of Japanese misperceptions of Asian attitudes. When other Asians fell short of Japan's expectations, its response was to lash out violently.

One could argue that pan-Arabism--and even pan-Africanism--have more historical validity than pan-Asianism, which was a product of the superficial thinking of a self-deluded coterie of intellectuals. No strong sense of an overarching pan-Asianism has ever supplanted the fierce ethnic nationalisms of modern East Asia. Even seventy years after World War II, Koreans and Chinese are not appreciative of Japan's prewar efforts to modernize their countries. The Japanese public must acknowledge that any geopolitical dreams of a Shintō world order, masquerading as pan-Asianism, were buried in the rubble of the Second World War. And, considering the recent explosion of nationalist passions in other East Asian countries, such an acknowledgment is vital to Japan's national security.


Austro-Hungarian War Aims in the Balkans during World War I
Austro-Hungarian War Aims in the Balkans during World War I
Preis: EUR 57,58

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Timely book with excellent research, 17. Juli 2014
Marvin Benjamin Fried’s well researched book expands on three basic points: first, that Austro-Hungarian war aims were more offensive, expansionist and annexationist in the Balkans and in Poland than previously thought; secondly, that the foreign ministry remained in overall control of the process of war aims formulation in opposition to the army's policies and contrary to the German example; and thirdly, that the war was prolonged due to Austria-Hungary's at times almost delusional insistence on its principal war aims.

At the start of the war, according to Fried, Vienna simple wanted to defeat Serbia militarily and make her a tributary or dependent state. Yet as the war continued and as it became clear that it would not be a short one, more extensive war aims developed. Serbia, Vienna initially agreed, due to the influence of Tisza, the Hungarian premier, was neither to be annexed nor destroyed. Instead, she was to cede territory to Bulgaria, Albania and Greece but pay reparations to Austria-Hungary which would also receive some territory as "strategically important border corrections". Specifically, these included the north-western comer of Serbia called the Macva, the north-east of Serbia around Negotin, and Belgrade itself. It was also important that neither Bulgaria nor Germany should dominate the Western Balkans, which should be Austria-Hungary's exclusive sphere of influence. Tisza saw this as the most important war aim for the Monarchy. So, too, did the Austro-Hungarian Foreign Minister and Chair of the Joint Ministerial Council the Hungarian premier, who was willing to lose Galicia but not control of Serbia. The Austro-Hungarian Chief of the General Staff Conrad, on the other hand, saw victory on the Eastern Front and the defeat of Russia as the key to any general peace, although he did realise the economic importance of the Balkans to the Monarchy. His plan, after Serbia's defeat, would become one of annexing the rump of Serbia, once Bulgaria had been paid off with Macedonia, annexing Montenegro and dismembering Albania. Yet continued military defeats always deprived him of any real influence. In any case, the ultimate commander in chief of the armed forces - Kaiser Franz Joseph - tended only to discuss foreign policy with his foreign minister. Besides, Tisza had no intention of absorbing more Slavs into the Monarchy, an issue that Conrad simply dismissed or overlooked.

The problem of what to do with Poland would also become a difficult one to resolve. Certainly, it had to be detached from Russia but what then? Tisza rejected any trialist solution meaning that if the Germans indeed allowed Poland to go to Austria- Hungary, it would have to be part of Cisleithania in some sort of sub-dualist structure. Clearly, there were huge potential gains from acquiring a territory as large as Poland, but these were never apparent to Hungarians. One of these, Burian, on becoming Hungarian Foreign Minister in 1915, displayed astonishing obduracy in face of military and civilian panic. He simply kept refusing any concessions to Italy, Romania or Bulgaria, despite the threat of Italian and Romanian intervention on the allied side. Once Serbia was defeated at the end of 1915 with German and Bulgarian help and the Russians had been defeated at Gorlice–Tarnów in the summer of 1915, however, Burian's position became close to Tisza's - rump Serbia would be dominated by Hungary which would populate it with Hungarian and German immigrant farmers but leave it nominally independent. The foreign ministry also wanted Albania to remain theoretically independent and neutral despite military occupation and Conrad's desire to annexe or dismember the country. Burian, however, agreed that Montenegro should lose its coast, the Lovcen plateau, which threatened the Austro-Hungarian naval base at Cattaro, plus some northern territory to Austria-Hungary; she should also lose territory to Albania.

With the need for German support against the Brusilov Offensive in 1916 and against Romania which now entered the war, Austria-Hungary's diplomatic room for manoeuvre became limited. She gained little from Romania's defeat while Bulgaria pressured her for concessions in occupied Serbia and the Germans set their sights on the Albanian port of Valona. Meanwhile, Congress Poland was given constitutional independence at the end of 1916 but with no agreement over who would control it. Burian kept pressing for Austrian parity with Germany in Poland; indeed, control of Poland, if possible, remained an Austrian war aim.

Despite hunger becoming the most pressing issue for the Monarchy by 1917, and despite the accession of a new Emperor - Karl I - who soon sacked Conrad, Burian and even Tisza, it proved impossible to change Habsburg foreign policy in any way. In March 1917, a minimum programme was agreed with Germany according to which the armies of the Central Powers would only retreat from Russia and the Balkans if the statu quo before 1914 was restored in east and west. A maximum programme gave Romania to Austria-Hungary and expanded territory for Germany in the East, territory whose extent would be defined according to later circumstances. Although the new foreign minister and emperor became identified with a desire for peace for various reasons, they never abandoned the established new order in the Balkans, assuming that 'minor' territorial adjustments in Serbia and Montenegro would be overlooked or allowed by the Allies at any peace conference. The Germans, on the other hand, not merely went on to plan huge annexations in the East, but came up with schemes for the wholesale economic reorganisation of Central Europe that would have subordinated the whole Habsburg Monarchy to Germany - in short, the plans for Mitteleuropa. By now, however, the question of food supplies to a starving Monarchy and the prospect of peace were the two issues most exercising the populations of Austria-Hungary. This meant that when Russia collapsed in revolution - which, it was feared would spread to the Monarchy - Czernin at Brest - Iitovsk offered the whole of Poland - including Austrian Galicia - to Germany on condition that grain supplies from the Ukraine and Romania would reach starving Austria. (In fact, he had already offered the whole of Poland to Germany in discussions at the German army headquarters at Homburg on 3 April 1917, in order to encourage the Germans to make concessions over Alsace-Lorraine.) Austria-Hungary, however, was to keep her Balkan possessions. As it turned out, no grain came from the Ukraine, but Austria's cession of Cholm to that country so infuriated her Poles that there could no longer be any thought of an Austro- Polish solution, if indeed any prospect of one still existed. On the other hand, by 1918 the Monarchy's war aims had been fulfilled:
Serbia and Russia had been crushed, Romania had ceded some strategic territory (the Iron Gates) to Austria-Hungary and agreed to border rectifications, and Austria-Hungary still had a say in the future of Poland. Italy had been humiliated by the autumn of 1917 at Caporetto. Austria-Hungary had even fought off serious threats from Germany and Bulgaria to interfere in her occupation zones in Serbia, Montenegro and Albania. All enemy troops had been expelled from the lands of the Monarchy. All her own troops were fighting abroad. Hence the new army chief of staff, General Arz von Straussenburg, began making all sorts of plans for annexations in the Balkans, which the foreign ministry still opposed. In any case, the main problem was now hunger, the moral and physical collapse of the civilian and military populations, and strategic defeat. Karl attempted secret peace negotiations with the Entente through his brother-in-law Prince Sixtus of Bourbon-Parma,during which, without informing them, he had suggested that the Germans might surrender Alsace-Lorraine. After the collapse of the Sixtus mission, Karl's subsequent humiliation and apparent diplomatic surrender to the Germans at Spa, and Czernin's resignation and replacement by the apparently imperturbable Burian, defeat was not far off. Burian, predictably, kept trying to get the Germans to guarantee the Monarchy's Balkan gains almost to the end of the war and still made Vienna's agreement to Mitteleuropa conditional on a Polish settlement. However, by the autumn of 1918, with everything everywhere collapsing, the allies no longer cared to guarantee the Monarchy's own survival and far less that of its military conquests in the Balkans when the war eventually ended.

Fried thus makes an excellent case for the primacy of Balkan war aims in the wartime diplomacy of Austria-Hungary. It may be true that Conrad saw the eastern front and the struggle against Russia as being more important for military survival, something which objectively was true- a Russian army pouring through the Carpathians on to the Hungarian Great Plain represented a lethal threat to the Monarchy in a way that Serbian military strategy certainly never did nor could; it may be true, also, that Austria-Hungary saw the campaign against Italy as one against a traditional enemy and one, therefore, which united all populations of the Monarchy in enthusiasm for war; but diplomatically, it may be the case that the Balkans had been the cause of the war and thereafter remained at the heart of it for Austria-Hungary's leaders and policy-makers. The issue of Poland, however, should not be easily dismissed in the context of the war-aims of the Monarchy. Its control by, or even close association with, the Habsburgs would have added immeasurably to their prestige in a way that control of the Western Balkans could not have equalled.


The Month that Changed the World: July 1914
The Month that Changed the World: July 1914
Preis: EUR 7,15

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4.0 von 5 Sternen When diplomacy didn't work..., 21. Juni 2014
A well researched account of the events leading up to the outbreak of the Great War. Written in the style of a day by day chronicle it is a useful reconstruction of the path to war.

Martel, a Canadian professor of history, argues that too much investigation of the origins of the war has taken place under "a dark cloud of predetermination, of profound forces having produced a situation in which war was inevitable."

The book is especially good at highlighting the political disarray of the Triple Alliance (Germany, Austria-Hungary, an Italy) from the assassinations in Sarajevo to the first few days of August when Germany was at war with Russia, France and Britain, and Austria-Hungary was at war with Serbia only, and Italy was neutral.

The book is a clear and fast moving narrative of the assassination plot, Europe's reaction, a day by day account of the critical period Friday, the 24 July, the day after the delivery of the ultimatum to Serbia, to the Friday, the 31 July, and the final days of decision the 1 – 4 August.

Germany looms large in these discussions. It is unthinkable that Austria would have taken the path of confrontation with Serbia without the active backing of the Continent's dominant military power. This support was the result of a conscious decision taken by a tiny group of the German imperial elite, and on July 5, 1914, Wilhelm II issued what has become known to history as the "blank check" of unconditional support to Austria-Hungary. Three days later, a senior Austrian official privately wrote that there was "complete agreement" with the Germans; Serbia must be attacked "even at the risk of a world war which is not ruled out [by Berlin]."

After a brief but informative account of how views on the causes of the war have changed, from early in the war itself, when people felt that they had been overwhelmed by forces beyond human control, through Albertini's masterful account and the Fischer controversy to recent decades, he places "human agency" firmly in the frame.

The author also takes a particular line on a number of questions that are still debated. Did the Entente powers have any suspicion that Austria-Hungary would make unacceptable demands on Serbia? Did the Russians and French discuss the worst case possibility, one which threatened military action, and decide what they would do in that event? Did the Serbs genuinely accept all of the Austro-Hungarian demands save two? When did the Russians make clear to the Serbs that they would support them with military action if necessary? Did the French seriously try to restrain the Russians? Was a peaceful solution still possible on Saturday, the 1st August when Germany declared war on Russia because it would not stop its mobilisation?

The book doesn't get five stars because of a few oddities. The sequence and content of the Sazonov/Szapary/Pourtales/meetings on the 26-27 July looks wrong. The three distinct British mediation proposals are rolled into one recurring mediation idea.

The author also joins those who forget the rudimentary communication systems available at the time, and how these adversely affected decision-making. With these systems imposed on the players, it soon becomes very apparent to all how enormously difficult it is to deal competently with complex matters under great pressure. As a leading historian has said, 'if only they had all had a mobile phone!'

Martel's final conclusions are reminiscent of those of Margaret MacMillan: "War was neither premeditated nor accidental," he writes. He quite specifically states, moreover, that the leaders of 1914 "did not walk in their sleep."

The Chronology and details of the Dramatis Personae will be particularly welcomed by students.


The Deluge: The Great War and the Remaking of Global Order 1916-1931
The Deluge: The Great War and the Remaking of Global Order 1916-1931
Preis: EUR 10,99

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Why 1918 Failed to Bring Peace., 31. Mai 2014
Adam Tooze's latest book is another excellent work to be added to his previous ones on the Nazi economy, and the statistical innovation in Germany between 1900 and 1945. Both of these were ground-breaking and were books of unusual originality and meticulous research. Previously at Cambridge University he is now Professor of History at Yale.

In his new book he addresses the events of 1919 to 1939, and asks 'Why did the western powers lose their grip in such a spectacular fashion?'. His thesis is it was America's failure to 'cooperate with the efforts of the French, British, Germans and the Japanese to stabilise the world economy and establish new institutions of collective security ' that caused the problems that emerged after the Great War ended in 1918.

After the Armistice, an error that allowed Germany to claim she had not been defeated, representatives laboured for 6 months before signing what came to be called the Treaty of Versailles. They had faced enormously complex problems in a world fragmented and in turmoil. 65 million men had been mobilised from around the globe. At least 9 million lay dead, and some 21 million more were wounded, diseased or mutilated. It has been estimated that each day deaths on the battlefield were 10 times greater than in the American Civil War. Some 22 million civilians had been killed or wounded. Famine was rife across parts of Europe-Germany was still blockaded. In many capitals there was bitter fighting. At least 14 wars raged. Thousands of square miles of France had been devastated. In Poland, and elsewhere there was rampant inflation-prices in Russia had risen by a factor of 400,000,000! Revolutions broke out in Germany, Hungary, Austria and Poland and in other parts of Europe. 4 Empires had gone. A major civil war that involved the West was being fought in Russia. Boundary changes were bewildering, and hanging over everything was nationalsm fostered by the war and Wilson's 14 Points.

The European economy was in ruins. The war had cost an estimated $603 billion. Gradually Europe slid into a major depression by 1920 that has almost been ignored by historians. From 1918, an influenza pandemic swept the world killing some 12 million, 5 million in India alone. It killed more Americans than did the war.

In the midst of this turmoil the peacemakers bickered and battled-often among themselves-to bring order and peace. Wilson threatened on more than one occasion to leave Paris and return home. How to deal with Germany was a major issue. The only state that emerged almost unscathed from the war was America. France and Britain were no longer world powers. This is why Tooze believes America should have used its power and led the world on a path of peace instead of withdrawing behind the walls of fortress America. His is a painstaking analysis but is he perhaps a little unfair in his attack on Wilson and those that followed him in the White House?

This reviewer thinks he is, for the following reasons:
America was not the economic and military superpower in 1918 that she was in 1945;
America had several major domestic problems of her own to deal with; the US constitution placed severe consfraints on Wilson that hampered his diplomacy; Wilson's personality and beliefs about peace were in sharp conflict with many in his party and in the Republican Party, and the sheer complexity of the issues facing Wilson and the other peacemakers in 1918, in some respects these were greater than those post 1945.

The President was not worldly-wise. He was a scholar who was never highly regarded as a President. He suffered ill health for much of his life, and his political opponents in the Senate gave him no rest. Also we should not forget that relations between America and the other key peacemakers were at times frigid and highly suspicious. British imperialism was detested in many parts of the USA. In particular, several Republican senators were angry about our refusal to grant Ireland independence. Finally, even an historian of Tooze's stature is perhaps a little guilty at times of basking in the comfort of hindsight.

A book to be be read alongside Macmillan's outstanding 'Peacemakers', and Mulligan's 'The Great War For Peace' in order to get a balanced picture.

These books and many others demonstrate it is much more difficult to forge a peace than fight a war. The failure to ensure peace was not America's fault. It was the delberate actions of Hitler, Mussolini and the military gang in Tokyo. Even if America had not become isolationist this would not have stopped those intent on taking their frontiers for a walk. Remember also that the League, even without the US, Germany and Russia, was not a complete failure in all respects.

At Versailles, the peacemakers had no experience of formulating a peace treaty, the only 'template' available was that of Vienna in 1815, and that was useless given the conditions that faced Clemenceau and others.

Wilson denigrated the long-established European system that had governed the previous 100 years but his vision of a new system spelt out in his 14 Points proved to be premature. Harold Nicholson pointed out the organisational faults of the Paris Conference. The lack of coordination, the numerous committees, the haphazard agendas, the underestimation of the importance of economic matters, and the failure to take into account the needs of the smaller powers were only a few of the problems that bedevilled and prolonged the Conference. It was again Harold Nicholson who said at the time that if we had known the US would withdraw from active participation, 'the Covenant and the Reparations details would have been drafted quite differently'. He added that 'there is a tendency to expect too much from America'.

Of the utmost importance was the fact that the key peacemakers were all politicians; they were all therefore subject to pressures from their party, the opposition, the media and the public. Time pressure was yet another problem. In the end, the Treaty of Versailles and the other treaties, were thrown together in a great flurry. Few present had even read the whole treaty on the day it was signed.

Tooze also pays insufficient attention to the fear among the peacemakers of communism spreading after the coup of 1917. Demands by Trotsky, and others for world communism did little to appease these fears. Hence, the worry that if Germany was treated too harshly she might not form the necessary barrier to the spread of communism. Foreign Office files make this all too clear. Not for nothing was communism frequently referred to as a 'virus'.

The retreat into isolationism by America was undoubtedly bad for peacemaking after 1918 but many, many other reasons contributed to the 'deluge'. The war was America's first serious encounter with European conflict and global diplomacy. She had deep suspicians about the intentions of the other Powers, an intense dislike of colonialism, a view of world justice that was both messianic and naive. America was and is a 'salad bowl' of peoples. Many were pro Germany and anti Entente. Their elected representatives reflected these views in Congress making Wilson's job all the harder.

Ironically, Tooze castigates the US for failing to pick up the leadership baton in 1918 while others attack her today for trying to act like the world's polceman. Thanks to her and the Soviet Union Hitler was defeated in 1945. During the Cold War, and various 'hot wars' since, America has, fortunately for the rest of us, used her superpower status to lead the West despite criticism, some of it justified.

Although not everyone will agree the author's judgements on a very complex, question, this is an outstanding book.


The Long Shadow: The Great War and the Twentieth Century (English Edition)
The Long Shadow: The Great War and the Twentieth Century (English Edition)
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Explores the impact of the war, 18. Januar 2014
Previous books by David Reynolds on America, Churchill, Origins of WW2 and the Cold War established him as a leading historian.

Most books on the First World War concentrate on the outbreak, fighting, and final victory over Germany and her allies in 1918. Very little is said about the consequences of a war that toppled four Empires, saw America emerge as a world power (a reluctant one), and caused over 12 million military deaths at a cost of at least 6 billion dollars. David Reynolds book seeks to rectify this.

Many historians have implied that between 1914 and 1945 Europe took leave of its senses. These, it is said, were years of death, misery and degradation. The horrors of Stalinism and Nazism overshadow the era. Reynolds acknowledges the shadow that the First World War cast over Europe in particular. On the other hand, the revulsion at the suffering plus war weariness served to create an atmosphere which embraced new ideas of openness, discussion and morality.

The author argues we "have lost touch with the Great War" despite the number of novels and poems written about the war. The war, he says, has become a "literary war, detached from its moorings in historical events." Our view of the war is now one of mud, blood and futility. He argues that by reducing the war to personal tragedies we have lost the big picture: "history has been distilled into poetry."

Reynolds reminds us that life went on after 1918 but in a world turned molten by the volcano of war. Most of the world was not in perpetual mourning, the 1920's were not, as some have argued, a 'morbid age'. In his book he explores the impact of the war on the period up to 1939 when another global war broke out. He looks at various themes such as liberal democracy, colonial empires, the world economy, cultural values, and the constant search for world peace. He points out that not all of the legacies of 1914-18 were bad or negative, many were positive and trans-formative.

Reynolds examines the impact of the war in Africa, Asia, Palestine and Mesopotamia.

He points out the impact of the war on the USA noting that where Britain suffered 723000 deaths, the US 116000, of these some 55000 died from influenza in the 1918 pandemic.

In the US Civil War more than 620,000 died, more than in both World Wars.

Part Two begins with a chapter highlighting how different from the First World War were the tactics on land and in the air of the Second, partly because of the "lessons learnt" from the First. These "lessons" also shaped the decisive final outcome: total victory and Unconditional Surrender this time, and a United Nations that was supposed to be very different from the ineffective League of Nations.

In the 1960s there were new debates about the interpretation of the First World War. Was it a war into which the world had stumbled as the result of the misjudgments of individuals?

In Germany there was the debate about whether Nazi aggression was an aberration or a continuity of German ambitions which had caused the First World War; in France, whether collaboration of so many Frenchmen in the Vichy period was an aberration and whether the real continuity was between the heroes of the First World War and the Resistance in the Second.

In the inter-war period, most people in Britain took the view that, dreadful though the carnage had been, the War had not been pointless. But in the 1960s Alan Clark, Joan Littlewood and A.J.P.Taylor popularized the notion that the First World War, into which bumbling statesmen had slithered, caused y bumbling statesmen, had been a pointless slaughter caused by generals who were "donkeys". Reynolds shows how, in Australia, this coincided with and contributed to that country's emotional detachment from Great Britain - and these, in turn, will be followed by a spate of famous novels right into the new millennium and into the time when the last survivors of the Great War died as centenarians.

In the 1960s the European Economic Community its members surmounted the hostilities of the two wars. In 1964 a film about the Great War was a joint Franco-German production shown simultaneously in both countries; and Reynolds describes a similar joint commemoration by Australians and Turks in the 1980s and 1990s. In Northern Ireland, by contrast, the 50th anniversary in 1966 of the Easter Rising revived passions among Catholics and Protestants alike and would within two years trigger the thirty years of The Troubles. With the dedication in 1998 of the Island of Ireland Peace Tower at Messines in Belgium, commemorating the deaths of Protestant and Irish soldiers at that battle, we have here also at least an aspiration of reconciliation.

Despite Russia's immense losses in the Great War, the communists did nothing to memorialize it. Only in 2004, after the fall of communism were the heroes of that war commemorated.

The book is replete with excellent illustrations, paintings, posters, photographs and memorials. The index is very sound and comprehensive.

This is a thought-provoking book. It is learned, well-researched and written in an elegant and clear style. It enhances our understanding not only of the First World War but also how that terrible war has affected for good and ill the lives of millions around the globe to this day.


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