The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914

The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914

Christopher Clark / Feb 18, 2020

The Sleepwalkers How Europe Went to War in The Sleepwalkers How Europe Went to War in is historian Christopher Clark s riveting account of the explosive beginnings of World War I Drawing on new scholarship Clark offers a fresh look at Wo

  • Title: The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914
  • Author: Christopher Clark
  • ISBN: 9780061146664
  • Page: 193
  • Format: Paperback
  • The Sleepwalkers How Europe Went to War in 1914 is historian Christopher Clark s riveting account of the explosive beginnings of World War I.Drawing on new scholarship, Clark offers a fresh look at World War I, focusing not on the battles and atrocities of the war itself, but on the complex events and relationships that led a group of well meaning leaders into brutal confThe Sleepwalkers How Europe Went to War in 1914 is historian Christopher Clark s riveting account of the explosive beginnings of World War I.Drawing on new scholarship, Clark offers a fresh look at World War I, focusing not on the battles and atrocities of the war itself, but on the complex events and relationships that led a group of well meaning leaders into brutal conflict.Clark traces the paths to war in a minute by minute, action packed narrative that cuts between the key decision centers in Vienna, Berlin, St Petersburg, Paris, London, and Belgrade, and examines the decades of history that informed the events of 1914 and details the mutual misunderstandings and unintended signals that drove the crisis forward in a few short weeks.Meticulously researched and masterfully written, Christopher Clark s The Sleepwalkers is a dramatic and authoritative chronicle of Europe s descent into a war that tore the world apart.

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    About "Christopher Clark"

      • Christopher Clark

        Christopher Munro Chris Clark is an Australian historian working in England.He was educated at Sydney Grammar School between 1972 and 1978, the University of Sydney where he studied History, and between 1985 and 1987 the Freie Universit t Berlin.He received his PhD at the University of Cambridge, having been a member of Pembroke College, Cambridge from 1987 to 1991 He is Professor in Modern European History at the University of Cambridge and since 1991 has been a Fellow of St Catharine s College where he is currently Director of Studies in History In 2003 Clark was appointed University Lecturer in Modern European History, and in 2006 Reader in Modern European History His Cambridge University professorship in history followed in 2008 In September 2014, he succeeded Richard J Evans as Regius Professor of History at Cambridge.


    1. In a dugout in northern France, sometime in 1916, three British soldiers try to make sense of one of the most complicated questions of modern history:PVT. BALDRICK: The way I see it, these days there's a war on, right? and, ages ago, there wasn't a war on, right? So, there must have been a moment when there not being a war on went away, right? and there being a war on came along. So, what I want to know is: how did we get from the one case of affairs to the other case of affairs?CPT. BLACKADDER: [...]

    2. In commemoration of the Centennial of WW1, we have also set up a reading group here in GR. Sleepwalkers is one of the suggested books. It deals with the period before the war and is consequently centered on the causes that led to, or I should say brought about, the disaster. But because it is my first book on the political aspects, I felt overwhelmed with the amount of information and baffled by the complexity of the considerations. My judgment has to be taken therefore with more than a pinch of [...]

    3. For the longest time, I avoided reading about World War I because it seemed too complicated. It was fought for convoluted reasons among now-dead empires in a Europe – and a world – that is now vastly reshaped. I figured my time would be better spent reading another book about Gettysburg. When I finally made a concerted effort to learn about the Great War (since the Centennial is fast approaching), I discovered its beginnings were actually deceptively simple. The heir to the Austro-Hungarian [...]

    4. Simply one of the best books on the origins of the Great War. Take it from someone who wrote his master thesis on the pre-war military strategies of Belgium and along the way devoted too much time to the European dimension. Christopher Clark’s summary of the transformation of Europe between 1879 and 1907 from non-committed alliances into two military ‘blocs’ in two pages plus maps is a thing of beauty. The author clearly belongs to the revisionist camp. His identification of the hawks with [...]

    5. Tens of thousands of pages on the Great War have already been written. It has been almost one hundred years now since it started, and in other parts of the world it still rages onward. The current ethnic/religious conflicts in Iraq and Syria, for example, are directly influenced by the boundaries scribbled on the map by colonial powers after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. The standard narrative of the cause of the conflict is based upon Tuchman's The Guns of August. This was a world of mona [...]

    6. Εξαιρετικό. Δε θυμίζει κλασικό βιβλίο ιστορίας. Δεν εξιστορεί γεγονότα, εξετάζει όλους τους λόγους που οδηγήθηκε η Ευρώπη στον "μεγάλο πόλεμο". Πολύ χρήσιμο για όλους. Μεγάλο μέρος του βιβλίου αποτελεί η κατάσταση στα Βαλκάνια από το 1870 μέχρι την έναρξη του πολέμου και κυρί [...]

    7. "‘I shall never be able to understand how it happened,’ the novelist Rebecca West remarked to her husband as they stood on the balcony of Sarajevo Town Hall in 1936. It was not, she reflected, that there were too few facts available, but that there were too many."I have a masochistic, puritan streak that tells me a serious book should be long, dry, dense and exhaustively referenced to flagellate learning into my ignorant body and soul. Barbara Tuchman's sinfully enjoyable The Guns of August [...]

    8. While the dead are gone, they're not gone. While the dead don't speak, they speak.St PaulWhich begs the question, what do they say to us? Last week saw extensive media coverage of the various commemorations of Britain's declaration of war against Germany on August 4, 1914. Naturally, understandably, inevitably, those dignitaries invited to hold speeches on this occasion turned most of their attention to the human cost. The sheer numbers are obscene, beyond anyone's understanding or imagination. [...]

    9. Does history repeat itself? A Cambridge University historian’s study of the causes of World War ISix little boys tussle in a sandbox, pushing and shoving, sometimes openly, sometimes when none of the others are looking. One of them, a runt, is getting the worst of it, but he’s a vicious little guy and manages to hold his own within his own tiny corner of the sandbox. The biggest boys exert the least effort but command the most space. They all look confident, but secretly they’re terrified [...]

    10. Πολύ καλό θεματικό βιβλίο. Παρά τον όγκο του δεν πρέπει να φοβίζει διότι προσεγγίζει διάφορες πτυχές περί των ζητημάτων του Α' Παγκοσμίου πολέμου με κατανοητό, αν και εξαιρετικά αναλυτικό τρόπο. Διαβάζοντας το, θα εντυπωσιαστείτε από την πολυπλοκότητα της κρίσης που οδήγη [...]

    11. Bosnia, Herzegovina, Dalmatia, Macedonia, Transylvania – the names float like ghosts over a map of early 20th century Europe. It was a map in flux. The Ottoman Empire was disintegrating. The Austro-Hungarian Empire was suddenly threatened by the unrest of it's numerous ethnic minorities: Croats, Slavs, Bosnian Muslims, Slovenes, Serbs, Romanians. Major European powers were jockeying for colonial dominance: England in Egypt and India; France in North Africa and Southeast Asia. Russia sought con [...]

    12. As Clark points out in his Introduction, historians started debating the cause of the First World War even before it began! For it did seem inevitable to many at the time, although the eventual scope – resulting eventually in the mobilization of 65 million troops and ending with the destruction of three empires, 20 million military and civilian deaths, and 21 million more wounded, was unanticipated. Clark notes that while a few leaders warned of “Armageddon” and a “war of extermination [...]

    13. Theoretically, the book is about how the various governments of continental Europe got enmeshed in World War I. In fact, the book is an endless (and ad nauseaum) series of chapter-long mini-studies of a host of pre-WWI crises that convulsed Europe. Clark really doesn't get to the actual decision-making about WWI until the very end of the book, and then treats it as little different from the other crises.Clark's theory is that foreign policy decision-making in the governments of Europe was diffus [...]

    14. July - August 2014 will mark the Centennial anniversary of the start of World War I. In commemoration, there will no doubt be a lot written and said about the Great War and how the world was changed in its wake. Professor Christopher Clark of the University of Cambridge has written a book entitled "The Sleepwalkers - How Europe Went to War in 1914." In it, Clark scrupulously details the decisions of major and minor actors leading up to the outbreak of war and does something generally ignored by [...]

    15. "What were the causes of World War One?" is perhaps the most common question in both A level and first year undergraduate history exam papers. As with most questions of this type, there is no simple answer. There are, though, themes and hard facts and, in this book, the distinguished historian Christopher Clark unpicks the complex, often obscure and contradictory, events leading up to August 1914. This is not an easy read, nor should it be. His thesis, including the enticing thought that German [...]

    16. No review could do this work justice, so this will have to suffice. Clark's book is an exhaustive and intriguing history of the war’s origins and outbreak. Clark’s story is meticulously detailed and quite dense, but still readable. Still, this is not for the casual reader: the narrative requires some concentration. You’ll get bogged down in a lot of parts, but I think it’s worth it.Clark’s coverage of the European alliance system is particularly good. He gives us a readable account of [...]

    17. This was a fabulous history of the run-up to World War I. I must admit that I am a sucker for reading books about this period. It is like watching a slow developing train wreck over and over. Each time you think this time it will end differently but it never does.The ideal thing about this book is that it places all of the figures in their bureaucratic process so that what looks like a really dumb decision seems logical in context. He cites ample evidence to support these points. Other authors w [...]

    18. This exceptionally well-researched and scrupulously thoughtful book is not for the casual reader curious about the Great War. While the events described are certainly dramatic, Clark aims for the rigorous examination of causes, communications (and miscommunications) and diplomatic juggling rather than at drama or pulse-pounding narrative.Even after reading this book, I cannot begin to summarize the war's causes within a brief review; in fact, that's part of Clark's point: he demonstrates time an [...]

    19. One of the ironies of the First World War—the Great War, the War to End All War—is that if the major belligerent powers could agree on one thing it was that no one intended to fight a continental war over Serbia. Yet, in the event, they all did, with catastrophic consequences. A conflict that should have been limited to a dispute between Austria-Hungary and Serbia wasn’t because Serbia had an agreement with Russia and Austria-Hungary had one with Germany. And Russia had one with France and [...]

    20. A year from now, it will be August, 2014, 100 years after the beginning of World War I. How that war started and what was at stake was always somewhat of a mystery to me. I knew that it was triggered by the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, and that somehow "the Balkans" were at the root of things, but beyond that all seemed remote. And of course the fact that the US did not become involved until 1917 made the war seem all the more remote.Christopher Clark has done a remarkable job [...]

    21. Simply fantastic book about the run-up to World War I.Things I learned include:1. The Triple Entente, especially from the British angle, was not exclusively an anti-German grouping, and was "unstable" at times up close to the assassination of Franz Ferdinand.2. Even more than I knew before, the governmental organization of the Dual Monarchy was rickety. (I knew that many ministries were dual, but until reading this book, did not realize it had dual prime ministers, which was part of the delay of [...]

    22. -------------------------------Some tried to prevent this war.Some aggressively pushed along the steps that were needed to made it happen.Some watched, seemingly helpless, as the dominoes tumbled around them.How that happened, this book lays out in detailed, compelling prose.Why that happened is gingerly evaded. But the questions will not go away.I will rethink this book often, I am sure. And I will probably re-read it in time.Well done and well written.

    23. What is the cause of World War IGermany invaded Belgium. If it were that simple, Christopher Clark wouldn't spend over 600 pages describing the events that led to the war.It's complicatedd that's an understatement. Each of the leaders were indeed sleepwalkers, working in a vacuum where their point of view was perfect and other countries wouldn't intervene. The war itself was going to last just a few months in their minds and somehow life would continue.As Clark states, World War I started out as [...]

    24. A great book draws forth great reviews, and "Sleepwalkers" is no exception. So, I'm not only recommending that you read the book, but also that you read some of the top reviews of it on . And because I have every confidence that you will follow my advice (:-), I'm not going to duplicate the yeoman's work other reviewers have already done (explaining what is in the book and why it is brilliant). Instead I'm going to focus on two key points that seem to me to be often misunderstood, both here on [...]

    25. Christopher Clark's The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 is a magnificent analysis of the years and eventually weeks and days before Europe tore itself apart. Clark opens with the observation that for various political and cultural reasons the world of 1914 has become remote and foreign to our postmodern consciousness."The changes in our own world have altered our perspective on the events of 1914. In the 1960s–80s, a kind of period charm accumulated in popular awareness around the [...]

    26. Update: NEE JONGENS NEE“There is no smoking gun in this story; or, rather, there is one in the hands of every major character.”Nou, ik heb er minder lang over gedaan dan de oorlog zelf duurdeDit boek is extréém gedetailleerd. Dat moet ook wel want de situatie was extreem complex. Het is een bericht uit een andere wereld, eentje waar koningen, keizers en tsaren elkaar telegrammen met koosnaampjes stuurden terwijl hun ministers de troepen mobiliseerden. Mijn pleegvader merkte op dat het boek [...]

    27. “The causes of WW1” were so obvious when I was at school; everybody could recite them “shot that rang around the world” > ”impossible demands” > Austria x Serbia > Russia x Austria > Germany x Britain, France & Belgium > Britain x Germany. But they were events that appeared to spring from nowhere, all framed as offensive by the losers and defensive by the victors.And as Clark shows, all specious. In the Sleepwalkers he brings a new (new to me, anyway) level of und [...]

    28. World War 1 was "The first calamity of the 20th Century, the calamity from which all other calamities sprang". The sheer complexity of the Wars' origins have produced an endless debate which is still raging today more than 100 years on, with over 25,000 books and articles written on the subject. The Centenary of the Wars' outbreak 2 years ago produced a fresh and stimulating crop, including superb offerings from Margaret MacMillan, Max Hastings and Sean MacMeekin, but Christopher Clark's " Sleep [...]

    29. Around a decade ago, during a game of Civilisation III, I realised that the alliances I and the various AI players had been forming had locked the world into two large, networked power blocs. If any player were to trigger even the mildest of border skirmishes, global conflagration would ensue. A chill went down my spine, and I checked the date: 1912. Near enough, I thought, and attacked.The real First World War is, notoriously, far harder to account for. Both the causes suggested by my virtual r [...]

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