Decisions for War focuses on the choices made by small coteries in Austria-Hungary, Germany, Russia, France, Britain and elsewhere to address a common yet perplexing question: why did World War I happen? Several of the usual causes for the war are reviewed and discussed. Rather than accepting arguments of mass demands, nationalism, militarism, and social Darwinism, the book shows how in each country, the decision to enter the war was made by only a handful of individuals - monarchs, ministers, military people, party leaders, ambassadors, and others. In each case, we also see separate and distinct agendas, the considerations differing from one nation to the next. The leadership of Japan, the Ottoman Empire, Italy, the Balkans, and the United States are explored, as well as that of the major European countries involved.
'... a vitally important book on this subject ...'. Open History
"The debate on the origins of the First World War remains one of historyas most important and hotly contested topics, and this excellent book does it justice by presenting up-to-the minute research in a refreshingly accessible way. The breadth of its coverage is especially impressive, with Hamilton and Herwig treating the outbreak of the war as a global rather than merely a European event. Quite simply, this is the best introduction to the origins of the 1914-18 war yet published."
Dr. Gary Sheffield, Senior Lecturer in History, Kingas College London
"The First World War was it an accident or was it design? Historians have debated this question for 90 years, and this latest contribution, aimed at a general audience, offers comparative conclusions about the major and minor powers' motivations for fighting in World War I. Hamilton and Herwig make a convincing case for the importance of human agency in the decisions for war, ranging from a forced hand, blunder or miscalculation, to decisions calculated to provoke a conflict. This book is a welcome contribution to the continuing debate on the origins of the First World War and will provide readers with a useful guide through the maze of conflicting interpretations on this controversial subject."
Dr. Annika Mombauer, Senior Lecturer, The Open University, UK
"This book is an abridged version of the collection of essays edited by the same two authors, The Origins of World War I (Cambridge University Press, 2003). The footnotes have been removed and its text and bibliography skillfully abridged in order to produce a shorter and cheaper edition that can be made more readily accessible to students and the general reader. This wider accessibility is greatly to be welcomed. The book is the most comprehensive and up-to-date account available of the decisions that led first to the outbreak of the First World War and then to intervention by most of the global powers. A strong feature is the authors' comparative approach, which focuses attention on who made the crucial decisions in each country, how they did so (in what institutional context), and why they acted as they did.
Prof. David Stevenson, Department of International History, London School of Economics and Political Science
"Make this well-written work required reading for anyone interested in the origins of the First World War."
John H. Morrow, JR., The International History Review
"As a book intended for class use, Decisions for War succeeds in introducing students to the major issues and controversies relating to the outbreak of World War I." Canadian Journal of History Frederic Krome, American Jewish Archives