Item description for The Origins of the War of 1914 Volume 2 by Luigi Albertini & Isabella M. Massey...
Luigi Albertini wrote this monumental investigation into the origins of the First World War in the 1930s, when many participants were still alive to be interviewed about their recollections of those tragic moments. This is in fact the best and by far the most authoritative study of how the war began and why.
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Reviews - What do customers think about The Origins of the War of 1914 Volume 2?
Excellant History, Terrible Editing Mar 30, 2006
Like other WW I history buffs, I had long searched for Albertini's legendary work. Used copies of the three volume set I found on the net were both incomplete and too expensive. It was with great pleasure that I saw the Enigma Press reissuance of this work offered through the History Book Club for only $45.00. To my great disappointment, the newly released work was riddled with typographical errors of the most disconcerting kind: sentences running together for lack of periods; numbers inserted into words; incorrect spacing withing words and between words in sentences; incomprehensible symbols for times and dates. Every page of this work is riddled with incomprehensible errors. This new and updated version is also an example of false advertising since there is no new information or interpretation of Albertini's research or his own role during the war. Because my search for any usable copy of this book was so extensive and frustrating, I have decided to hold on to this wretched reissuance rather than use it to wrap dead fish.
Indispensable Nov 17, 2005
Luigi Albertini's magnificent history of the origins of World War I ought to be required reading for anyone wishing to debate this fascinating subject intelligently. Enigma (whoever they are) has performed a stellar service in publishing a paperback edition this year. Used copies were going for over $1000.
The three volumes are each over 700 pages, but make for riveting reading. The question of the responsibility for the outbreak of this disastrous war is probably the greatest whodunit in European history. I don't think I'm giving anything away to say that two and a half decades before Fritz Fischer, Albertini fingered the Germans. His evidence, in the end, is overwhelming. (Different responses by England and Russia could have altered the course of events in July, naturally.)
Albertini was an influential Italian newspaper editor and senator until ousted by Mussolini. He observed events in 1914 as a political insider, knew many of the protagonists, and was able to interview a number of them after the war. He had another advantage: by the time he completed the book, the diplomatic papers of each of the combatants had been published in their entirety, the memoirs had been written, the charges and counter-charges issued and disputed, etc. There is naturally more coverage of the Italian role in the crisis than in other studies, but the book is so well written (in Isabella Massey's splendid translation) that even readers not interested in Italy's response to its allies' machinations are likely to find these chapters engrossing.
The re-publication of this book is especially valuable because of the curious persistence of revisionist myths from the 1920s. The idea of collective guilt--that the nations of Europe "slithered into war," in Lloyd George's phrase--is not only attractive to ideologues on both the Left and Right, for various reasons, but continues to appeal to people wishing to think of themselves as compassionate and non-judgmental. Unfortunately, it was not abstractions like imperialism, militarism, nationalism, capitalism, or "secret diplomacy" that were responsible for the conflict, but the decisions of a few individuals in Germany who either wished to wage a preventative war or were willing to risk war to achieve a diplomatic coup.
Albertini does not spare the other parties to the conflict, however. He exposes the incompetence, myopia, and malfeasance in all the European capitals deftly and pitilessly.
Grey, the British Foreign Secretary, and Bethmann Hollweg, the German Chancellor, are sometimes depicted as the tragic figures of the crisis. Albertini will have none of this; he is quite critical of each. Some of the more sympathetic characters are actually the German ambassadors to the Entente countries, particularly Lichnowski in London-humane and civilized men appalled at the instructions they were receiving from Berlin. One of the things the book does so well is to expose the rivalries and animosities within the governments of the countries involved in the crisis.
Though I've not yet had a chance to look at this edition, I'm sure Samuel Williamson's introduction is illuminating.
Get it while you can Oct 26, 2005
This work has been out-of-print too long. It is THE work on the origins of WWI, and a must for the serious bookshelf. I first read this some years ago from the library, and have been searching for it since at reasonable cost -- and here it is.
It's long, it's detailed. But I know of no other book, and there are a number of admirable ones, that provides as complete a picture of this subject. Some examples. Frequently overlooked is the factor of Italy, it's drive for territory in N. Africa, and it's conflict w. Turkey over Greek islands immediately preceding WWI. From this we can see that much of this policy carried over into the inter-war era and was not entirely a creation of Mussolini. Albertini's long-running discussion of Austria's possible drive to the Black Sea, and it's attempts to block Serbia from the Adriatic through Montenegro are enlightening as a backdrop for conditions in the Balkans today. And the recent, and continuing, conflicts in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Serb relations with Montenegro and Albania are all pre-figured here beginning in the 19th century. And then there's the Sanjak of Novibazar -- too much to detail here.