Alexander Watson: Ring of Steel Germany and Austria Hungary in World War I

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Were successful in stirring p their populations against the enemy although this was easier done in Germany than in Austria HungaryA great history of these nations war efforts Much of the book s perspective deals with the Central Powers military and population meaning we get little regarding their intellectuals or the German politics of the war still Watson does an admirable job explaining this from Austria Hungary s perspective since that side of the issue is so much complicated Most books about the First World War are in one thing clear Germany and Austro Hungarians were the bad guys and their opponents were the good ones This is why we often see things from the side of these good people often overlooking what happened on the other side This lack is trying to supplement this book and I think it does in an impressive and historically correct way It does not of course take their place nor the writer try to overlook their responsibility for the start of the war and the very great crimes they have done during the war what it does is to show My Mother, a Serial Killer us their own perspective the suffering of their peoples but also the crimes of their opponents who shaped their thoughts to a certain extent He does this by presentings a comprehensive chronicle of the participation of these two countries in the first World War the causes that made them engage in this armed conflict The Italians Stolen Bride until the causes of their final defeat After reading I can say that I feel that I have a Inside this giant of a tome is an average sized book crying to be freedI m fond of saying nobody cares about World War I That s because it s true Only strange people like me would first learn about the war at ten years old from a book in the school library It all began with an assassination in Sarajevo Hey that sounds exotic Exciting I m in Now let s learn about propaganda and trench warfare and poison gas and the Red Baron Awesome stuff for bookworm boysLittle did I know I d endp living in the city where the war officially began Belgrade Last year a friend of mine visited and I took him to the place where the mighty Danube meets the eually excellent Sava Right there I pointed across the confluence On that side of the river was the Austro Hungarian Empire And here gunboats opened fire on the city Later my wife told me I d pointed at the wrong spotEven those who ve heard of WWI know only the popular version which goes something like thisThe evil Germans started the war in order to dominate Europe if not the worldOnly America stopped themA hundred years later this remains the gospel among those in the know Last year the inimitable mayor of London Boris Johnson went out of his way to write an editorial The Greek Tycoons Mistress urgings not to be swayed by other historical facts In the end he said Germany was to blame and Germany got what it had coming to them Never mind that Germany which did declare war on Russia and France which did invade gallant little Belgium on its way to France neve. Ses at Russian and Serbian hands Hopes of a ick victory lay in ruinsFor the Central Powers the war now became a siege on a monstrous scale Britain's ruthless intervention cut sea routes to central Europe and mobilised the world against them Germany and Austria Hungary were to be strangled of war supplies and food their soldiers overwhelmed by better armed enemies and their civilians brought to the brink of starvation Conuest and plunder land offensives and submarine warfare all proved powerless to counter or break the blockade The Central Powers were trapped in the Allies' ever tightening ring of steel Alexander Watson's compelling new history retells the.

History is written by the victors This is why I found the idea of writing about World War I from the point of view of the losers Germany and Austria Hungary fascinating by its niueness Ring of Steel is one of the best history books I have ever read Watson s elouent writing and his intellectually satisfying analysis of causality are all the captivating thanks to his attention to defusing certain long standing historical myths An excellent and comprehensive history of the Austrian and German war effort during the First World War One of Watson s main arguments is that the history of these nations from 1914 1918 played a major role in Europe s later catastrophe in the 1930s and 1940s The great material and emotional investment of Germany and Austria Hungary he writes ensured that defeat when it came would have a catastrophic impact on their societies Germany s defeat was to a large degree psychologicalWatson describes all of the ill formulated decisions made by the governments in Berlin and Vienna governments that Watson argues knew little about their society s suitability for total war or lack thereof For example the crisis atmosphere in Vienna before the war was to some degree justified by problems related to its ethnic diversity but most of these ethnic groups simply wanted autonomy rather than full independence and were willing to compromise one of many distinctions that Vienna failed to appreciate At the same time the disconnect between German diplomacy and military strategy was one of the causes for the war s outbreak and one of the causes for America s entry into the war Watson does a great job showing these two powers at war from their initial victories to their eventual defeat He describes the ebb and flow of the Central Powers fortunes and the impact it had on the civilian population His depiction of Germanya powerful modern nation state and Austria Hungary a backward multi ethnic melting pot held together by flimsy compromises was very interesting He also explores many related issues that other histories tend to overlook like how the people of both nations reacted to inept leadership and how the war prompted invasions and forced migrations that led to considerable ethnic tensions later The Central Powers administration of the territory they conuered is also given good treatment Watson shows how both powers were surrounded on all sides by hostile nations with superior forces and stronger economies and how this influenced their decision to try for a ick victory in the west before bringing overwhelming strength to bear on the east But of course 1914 turned out to be disappointment and they were stuck with a costly eastern front and the eventual intervention of the US forced by German ham handedness into a war it wanted to avoid which blocked any hopes of any kind of victory on the western front They were able to keep fighting for so long or less because they simply had no choice and because they. An award winning historian presents a groundbreaking new history of World War I from the perspective of the Central Powers showing how wartime suffering led not only to the fall of an empire but also to a fundamental breakdown of societyFor Germany and Austria Hungary the First World War started with high hopes for a rapid decisive outcome Convinced that right was on their side and fearful of the enemies that encircled them they threw themselves resolutely into battle Yet despite the initial halting of a brutal Russian invasion the Central Powers' war plans soon nravelled Germany's attack on France failed Austria Hungary's armies suffered catastrophic los.

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Rtheless never declared war on Britain Britain sacrificed nearly a million of its own voluntarilyWhat s been needed for a long time is a history of our Satanic enemies Germany and the Austro Hungarian Empire Ring of Steel provides that Unfortunately it provides far too much of itI have mixed impressions and really want to give this important work stars but the fact is every time I read it I felt like I had to outrun an avalanche of information when really a Hoofd in de wolken (Puffin Island uarter would have sufficed This is a shame because the writing is clear The writing is interesting The writing is well organized The writing is fair all of which I love about a good history But there s too much to consume It even got to the point where I d read the first sentence of a paragraph only to skim the rest because I knew one interesting detail was inevitably going to be followed by ten not so interestingAs I write this though I must admit I did read one section thoroughly There must have been 20 pages or so dedicated to the Germans who served on the submarine fleet I thought it was fascinating And yet the detail was no less than it was for other aspects of the war recorded in Ring of Steel So perhaps I should say that this comprehensive history has something for everyone depending on what that something is Perhaps I should give it a future re read I thought this would be a slog at 800 pages but found it a surprisingly readable and a thought provoking bookRing of Steel tells the story of World War 1 from the other side of the hill and claims to be the first modern history from this viewpointBeing a World War 2 devotee this book really opened my eyes to the GermanAustro Hungarian viewpoint and decision making in World War 1 It really is a fascinating read telling the story of how Germany and Austria Hungary initially mobilised the support of their populations to but as military losses mounted and Allied blockades caused hunger and hardship on the homefront doubts set in Whilst politics are key tonderstanding the GermanAustro Hungarian position social and economic effects of the war are covered extensively tooSome nuggets from the book that I hadn t necessarily realisedRussia mobilised before Germany sparking German fears of invasion from the East that Twos Company unified support across all political divides of the German and most of the Austro Hungarian populaceThe general belief in Germany and Austro Hungary that the war was purely a defensive reaction contrary to the Allies view of GermanyAustro Hungary as the aggressorHow complex the Austro Hungarian Empire was with its collection of separate nationalities and eleven spoken languages creating no ethnic language or nationalnity as in GermanyThere s many but I d recommend buying the book for thoseWhilst a lot of books are currently being produced from the Allies point of view Alexander Watson has filled a vacant space in our knowledge of the German and Austro Hungarian viewpoint Highly recommended. War from the perspectives of its instigators and losers the Germans and Austro Hungarians This is the story not just of their leaders in Berlin and Vienna but above all of the people Only through their His Convenient Highland Wedding unprecedented mobilisation could the conflict last so long and be so bitterly fought and only with the waning of their commitment did it end The war shattered their societies destroyed their states and beueathed to east central Europe a poisonous legacy ofnredeemed sacrifice suffering race hatred and violence A major re evaluation of the First World War Ring of Steel is essential reading for anyone seeking to nderstand the last century of European histor.

My new book The Fortress The Siege of Przemyśl and the Making of Europe's Bloodlands is out in the UK with Allen Lane and in the US with Basic Books It tells the moving story of the First World War's longest siege a dramatic campaign that opened the horrors which would ravage twentieth century East Central Europe The Times newspaper UK calls the book 'a masterpiece' 'Vividly writte