The January meeting of the World at War Forum discusses Europe on the brink of war during the summer of 1914. January’s meeting will occur on Wednesday, January 3 at 7:00 p.m. in the Porter Room.

In the spring of 1914, Europe had enjoyed almost a century of peace since the last general war had ended. Economic growth, including vast increases in international trade, created a prosperous and vibrant society. Europe led the world in science, the arts, and innovation in many areas. Five great European Empires dominated the continent, Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and Austro-Hungary, and controlled the majority of the world’s population. In August, a series of events, set off by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Gavrilo Princip in June, created a catastrophe that destroyed the old order and saw three of the empires collapse and eventually be replaced by totalitarian regimes that epitomized evil and subjected the world to even worse horrors. How could this happen?

Porter Public Library has many titles that shed light on numerous facets of World War I, its beginning, the battles, and its conclusion, and aftermath.


The lost history of 1914 : reconsidering World War I by Jack Beatty


George, Nicholas and Wilhelm : three royal cousins and the road to World War I by Miranda Carter

Prior to World War I, three first cousins: King George V, Kaiser Wilhelm II, and Tsar Nicholas II, ruled the Great European Powers. Carter uses the cousins’ correspondence and a host of historical sources to tell their tragicomic stories.


The end of tsarist Russia : the march to World War I and revolution by Dominic Lieven

World War I and the Russian Revolution together shaped the twentieth century in profound ways. In The End of Tsarist Russia, acclaimed scholar Dominic Lieven connects for the first time the two events, providing both a history of the First World War’s origins from a Russian perspective and an international history of why the revolution happened. Based on exhaustive work in seven Russian archives as well as many non-Russian sources, Dominic Lieven’s work is about far more than just Russia. By placing the crisis of empire at its core, Lieven links World War I to the sweep of twentieth-century global history. He shows how contemporary hot issues such as the struggle for Ukraine were already crucial elements in the run-up to 1914. By incorporating into his book new approaches and comparisons, Lieven tells the story of war and revolution in a way that is truly original and thought-provoking.


Catastrophe 1914 : Europe goes to war by Max Hastings

A history of the outbreak of World War I, from the breakdown of diplomacy to the dramatic battles that occurred before the war bogged down in the trenches.


July 1914 : countdown to war by Sean McMeekin

When a Serbian-backed assassin gunned down Archduke Franz Ferdinand in late June 1914, the world seemed unmoved. Even Ferdinand’s own uncle, Franz Josef I, was notably ambivalent about the death of the Hapsburg heir, saying simply, “It is God’s will.” Certainly, there was nothing to suggest that the episode would lead to conflict—much less a world war of such massive and horrific proportions that it would fundamentally reshape the course of human events.As acclaimed historian Sean McMeekin reveals in July 1914, World War I might have been avoided entirely had it not been for a small group of statesmen who, in the month after the assassination, plotted to use Ferdinand’s murder as the trigger for a long-awaited showdown in Europe. The primary culprits, moreover, have long escaped blame. While most accounts of the war’s outbreak place the bulk of responsibility on German and Austro-Hungarian militarism, McMeekin draws on surprising new evidence from archives across Europe to show that the worst offenders were actually to be found in Russia and France, whose belligerence and duplicity ensured that war was inevitable. Whether they plotted for war or rode the whirlwind nearly blind, each of the men involved—from Austrian Foreign Minister Leopold von Berchtold and German Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Sazonov and French president Raymond Poincaré—sought to capitalize on the fallout from Ferdinand’s murder, unwittingly leading Europe toward the greatest cataclysm it had ever seen.A revolutionary account of the genesis of World War I, July 1914 tells the gripping story of Europe’s countdown to war from the bloody opening act on June 28th to Britain’s final plunge on August 4th, showing how a single month—and a handful of men—changed the course of the twentieth century.


The war that ended peace : the road to 1914 by Margaret MacMillan

Presents a narrative portrait of Europe in the years leading up to World War I that illuminates the political, cultural, and economic factors and contributing personalities that shaped major events.


The sleepwalkers : how Europe went to war in 1914 by Christopher M. Clark

An authoritative chronicle, drawing on new research on World War I, traces the paths to war in a minute-by-minute narrative that examines the decades of history that informed the events of 1914.


The assassination of the Archduke : Sarajevo, 1914, and the romance that changed the world by Greg King and Sue Woolmans

In the summer of 1914, three great empires dominated Europe: Germany, Russia, and Austria-Hungary. Four years later all had vanished in the chaos of World War I. One event precipitated the conflict, and at its heart was a tragic love story. When Austrian heir Archduke Franz Ferdinand married for love against the wishes of the emperor, he and his wife Sophie were humiliated and shunned, yet they remained devoted to each other and to their children. The two bullets fired in Sarajevo not only ended their love story, but also led to war and decades of conflict. Challenging a century of myth, this moving portrait of the end of an era also offers the startling truth behind the Sarajevo assassinations–including Serbian complicity–and examines rumors of conspiracy and official negligence


The deluge : the Great War, America, and the remaking of global order, 1916-1931 by Adam Tooze

“A century after the outbreak of the First World War, a powerful explanation of why the war’s legacy continues to shape our world. The war would make a celebrity out of Woodrow Wilson and would ratify the emergence of the US as the dominant force in the world economy.”