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“The War That Ended Peace tells the story of how intelligent, well-meaning leaders guided their nations into catastrophe. These epic events, brilliantly described by one of our era’s most talented historians, warn of the dangers that arise when we fail to anticipate the consequences of our actions. This is one of the finest books I have ever read on the causes of World War I.”

Madeleine Albright, former secretary of state

The War That Ended Peace has now been released.

Front cover of The War that Ended Peace

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The First World War followed a period of sustained peace in Europe during which people talked with confidence of prosperity, progress, and hope. But in 1914, Europe walked into a catastrophic conflict that killed millions, bled its economies dry, shook empires and societies to pieces, and fatally undermined Europe’s dominance of the world. It was a war that could have been avoided up to the last moment—so why did it happen?


Beginning in the early nineteenth century and ending with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, award-winning historian Margaret Macmillan uncovers the huge political and technological changes, national decisions, and just as impor­tant, the small moments of human muddle and weakness that led Europe from peace to disaster. This masterful exploration of how Europe chose its path towards war will change and enrich how we see this defining moment in history.


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Up Coming Events

Intelligence Squared

April 15, 2014 | 6:45

Royal Geographical Society, UK

Debate: Britain should not have fought in the First World War

For more information please click here.

Franschhoek Literary Festival

May 16 - 18, 2014

Franschhoek, South Africa

May 16 | Friday, 11:30 am | Oxford for Outsiders

May 16 | Friday, 7:30 pm | Sunday Times Readers' Dinner

May 17 | Saturday, 10:00 am | War - But No Lasting Peace

May 17 | Saturday, 2:30 pm | History Without Guns

May 18 | Sunday, 1:00 pm | The Colonial Aftermath

For more information please click here.

Wells Festival of Literature

October 11 - 18, 2014

Wells, UK

Details about this event will be made available sometime in April

For more information please click here.

The War that Ended Peace

An excerpt:


The Great War still casts its shadows both physically and in our imaginations. Tons of ordnance are still buried in the battlefields and every so often someone - an unlucky farmer ploughing in Belgium, perhaps - is added to the casualty lists. Every spring after the ground has unfrozen, units of Belgian and French armies have to gather up the unexploded shells that have been heaved up. In our memories too the Great War, thanks in part to an extraordinary outpouring of memoirs and novels and paintings, but also because so many of us have family connections to it, remain that dark and dreadful chapter in our history. Both my grandfathers fought in the war; one in the Middle East with the Indian Army, the other a Canadian doctor in a field hospital on the Western Front. My family still has the medals won then, a sword given by a grateful patient in Baghdad, and a hand grenade which we played with as children in Canada until someone realised that it had probably not been disarmed.


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