Short, brisk and highly readable, this account stands out from the flood of books written for the Centenary of the Great War.
In Why 1914?, Derek Robinson - trained as a historian, shortlisted for the Booker Prize - applies his novelist's skills to asking how and why Europe hurried into such a massive disaster.
He captures a world of kings and Kaisers, generals and infantrymen. None of them knew what a big European war meant. All the combatant nations assumed it would be short, and each expected to win.
The roots of such folly began in the nineteenth century. Robinson traces the earliest warning signs, leading to a sudden crisis and an impulsive war that went massively wrong from the start. This book is the ideal introduction to the key question of the Great War: why did Europe explode?