"The Pity of War: Origins of World War I" Analytical Essay by Research Group

"The Pity of War: Origins of World War I"
This essay consists of a summary and a critique of the first six chapters of Niall Ferguson's "The Pity of War: Origins of World War I".
# 26242 | 2,612 words | 1 source | MLA | 2002 | US
Published on Apr 27, 2003 in English (Analysis) , History (European - World Wars) , Literature (General)

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Examination of Fergusons book in which the author examines the events leading up to the outbreak of the First World War and the factors which caused that war. It explains how this is a work of revisionist history inasmuch as Ferguson dismisses as inadequate or misleading previous attempts by historians and others to explain the origins of the war and offers his own formulation of the causes thereof. Its great strength is the comprehensive manner in which the author deals with the interrelationships among the diplomatic, military, political, economic and social developments of the period and his insights into the internal dynamics in various nations which helped bring on the war. The paper discusses how the author's overall conclusions are, however, poorly supported. They involve leaps in logic and in some cases retrospective speculation, including the questionable use of counter factual scenarios which sometimes border on fantasy, and assumptions which display his own peculiar set of biases.

From the Paper:

"World War I was a great calamity for European civilization. The widespread disillusionment with its consequences has generated a large number of varying historical explanations as to why it occurred. Ferguson states at the outset that he is profoundly dissatisfied with previous explanations of the war's origins. In Chapter I, he deals with the belief that the war was the inevitable product of "cultures of militarism," especially Prussian militarism. He says that "in both Britain and in Germany the advocates of increased military preparedness enjoyed only limited success, and certainly failed to win over the majority of voters" (15). He convincingly demonstrates that public opinion in Great Britain was divided on the need for large expenditures on armaments during the 20 years prior to the summer of 1914 and that the Liberal Party, which dominated British politics after 1905, was committed to domestic reforms. He points to the many sources of Germanophilia in Britain, but concedes there was general agreement across party lines on the importance of ensuring the supremacy on the high seas of the Royal Navy.
Although he acknowledges the powers of the Kaiser and the armed forces in Germany were greater than in Britain and France, he argues that "only a minority of Germans were militarists, and a minority of them were Anglophobes" (25). His overall conclusion was that "militarism . . . was far from being the dominant force in European politics on the eve of the Great War. On the contrary: it was in political decline, and not least as a direct consequence of democratization" (28)."

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"The Pity of War: Origins of World War I" (2003, April 27) Retrieved July 06, 2020, from https://www.academon.com/analytical-essay/the-pity-of-war-origins-of-world-war-i-26242/

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""The Pity of War: Origins of World War I"" 27 April 2003. Web. 06 July. 2020. <https://www.academon.com/analytical-essay/the-pity-of-war-origins-of-world-war-i-26242/>