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This book was written in the immediate aftermath of the war. It is a two volume work, the first dealing with the underlying causes of the war, which were nationalism and a fundamentally unstable international system. The author believed that the short term cause of the war was the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo. This assassination was part of a plot by the Serbian terrorist group the Black Hand. Fay, showed that a single event, the assassination led to a series of events over a period of weeks that led to the outbreak of war. Government mishandling of these events were another important factor in the outbreak of war.
Gordon Martel. <i>[https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1405874317/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1405874317&linkCode=as2&tag=dailyh0c-20&linkId=dae35f8407a1cc20fbbb446072116d50 The Origins of the First World War]<i>. (2001)
Martel summarizes and analyzes the policies and errors of judgments that led to a war in Europe. He provides an overview of the system of alliances in Europe prior to the war and how this system dominated international affairs. Martel explains the position of each of the great powers and how they saw the system as protecting their interests. The author shows that the system of alliances was fundamentally unstable. This was demonstrated when the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand led to its collapse. For Martel the alliance system in Europe, designed to create a ’balance of power’ and secure the peace, was fatally flawed and ultimately plunged Europe into the most barbaric war in centuries.