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The Eve of War

Kindle Single, Joffe Books

In 1913 few people knew that their world was on the brink of a catastrophe that would engulf the world, cost tens of millions of lives and change the course of the 20th century.

And yet, behind the scenes, the rulers of the Great Powers were well aware they were marching towards a conflagration of unprecedented destructive power. 

In this short essay (an introduction to ‘1914: The Year the World Ended’, my complete history of the causes of WW1), I aim to show that the First World War was not a conflict into which the Great Powers stumbled against their better judgement. Nor was it a ‘just war’ provoked by uncontainable German aggression, as the Allies claimed.

The European leaders had been planning a European war for a decade. Their commanders knew precisely what their weapons were capable of doing to lines of advancing soldiers.

1913: The Eve of War shows that the First World War was utterly avoidable had there been the political will. But the politicians and generals not only planned every detail of the war, they also willed it into existence. And once it had begun, they found themselves caught in an inferno they could no longer control.


Their plans were in place. Their scenarios were monstrous. Their rhetoric was apocalyptic. But not even their terrible premonitions conjured a future war that would destroy the world as they knew it.


‘[A] vivid, comprehensive and quietly furious account.’

The Times (UK)

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