Book Review: The Wars before the Great War: Conflict and International Politics before the Outbreak of the First World War


by Dominik Geppert, William Mulligan, and Andreas Rose. editors

New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015. Pp. xii, 380 . Notes, index. $103.00. ISBN: 1107063477

Preludes to the World War

The Wars before the Great War consists of an introduction and nearly 20 essays, by a remarkably international group of scholars, Italian, Turkish, Irish, British, Austrian, Bulgarian, American, German, etc. All the essays discuss various aspects of the effects of the premonitory wars of the Great War, the Italo-Turkish and Balkan Wars (1911-1913). The essays are divided into four broad groups.

The first group looks at various aspects of the wars from the perspective of the belligerents, such as the experience of Italian soldiers in the Libyan Campaign, the , Ottoman “Home Front” during the Balkan Wars, violence against civilians in the Balkan wars, and the wars’ effect on Bulgarian military preparations for the future,

The second section covers the effect of the wars on the military institutions of Russia, France, Germany and Austria-Hungary, as some lessons were learned and many not, such as the coming importance of trench warfare, perceptions of military prowess of other powers, and the effects of these wars on planning.

The next two sections cover diplomatic activities of the Great Powers during the wars and the effects of these wars on the broader sphere of public opinion and political thought across Europe.

Although the focus of the essays are almost entirely on the Balkan wars, despite the absence of two major local actors -- Greece and Romania -- from any treatment, the lack of a discussion of the influence of these wars on British military thought and practice, and the total lack of maps are unfortunate, these essays will prove valuable reading for the serious student of the Great War and European military and diplomatic institutions in the early twentieth century.

Note: The Wars before the Great War is also available in paperback, $32.99, ISBN 978-1-1076-3671-2, and pdf, $80.00, ISBN 978-1-3163-0939-1.


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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