July 1914: Countdown to War

  • by Sean McMeekin
  • Narrated by Steve Coulter
  • 13 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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 conflictmuch 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 involvedfrom Austrian Foreign Minister Leopold von Berchtold and German Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Sazonov and French president Raymond Poincarsought 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 monthand a handful of menchanged the course of the twentieth century.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Great Book, Narrator Isn't the Best though

Would you listen to July 1914: Countdown to War again? Why?

Yes, most likely in July 2014 for the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI.

What did you like best about this story?

This book goes into more detail than the Guns of August about the actual start of the war, specifically, the 34 days between Franz Ferdinand's assassination and the attack by Austria-Hungary on Serbia.

What aspect of Steve Coulter’s performance would you have changed?

A major problem with the narrator is that he isn't pronouncing the German names right. He pronounces von Moltke's name wrong. When he first said "Molt," I actually stopped listening and thought "Who the Hell is 'Molt?'" It's pronounced mɔltkə, two syllables.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Not particularly.

Any additional comments?

Audible Inc. needs to make sure that their narrators have cheat sheets to pronounce names right. It can really throw you off when you hear a name pronounced wrong like Moltke.

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- Richard Valdez

An exciting story, indifferently read

Would you listen to July 1914: Countdown to War again? Why?

Yes, there are many details in the story that are worth rehearing.

What other book might you compare July 1914: Countdown to War to and why?

The Guns of August. They are both good narratives, but this is more current

What aspect of Steve Coulter’s performance would you have changed?

He needs to research the correct pronunciation of names. For example, "Choristers Bridge," the shorthand name for the Russian foreign office, is pronounced with a silent "h." Many other names are mispronounced, but that one grates.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?


Any additional comments?

It is a very valuable corrective to the standard interpretation, which places the heaviest portion of the blame for the start of WWI on the Central Powers, especially Germany. It is clear that blame must be more widely apportioned, and that the Dual Monarchy must be given a heavier portion.

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- Kindle Customer

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-24-2013
  • Publisher: Audible Studios