A Mad Catastrophe: The Outbreak of World War I and the Collapse of the Hapsburg Empire

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A Mad Catastrophe finally brings some clarity to how the death of one Archduke, while admittedly tragic, could lead to the deaths of millions. Author Geoffrey Wawro focuses on the failing Austro-Hungarian empire and its ineffectual but war-hungry leaders, who think a war will redeem the empire’s honor. But inner conflicts and nationalism were tearing the country apart from within, while military leadership was obsolete or nonexistent. The lack of preparation for war was staggering; Austro-Hungarian troops were sent into battle with completely inadequate supplies, lacking food, uniforms, artillery, even rifles and bullets. The corrupt leadership stupidly sent the troops marching and countermarching over impossible terrain to battle enemy armies that far outnumbered their own. Conditions were horrific, and troops were ordered at some points to fix bayonets and charge against machine guns. The rotten collapse of the empire was also evidenced by the government’s charge to destroy its own citizens if there were any suspected of treason, and troops committed atrocities against noncombatants with the full endorsement of their leaders. The whole state was rotten to the core, and Wawro’s excellently written book, in chilling detail, explains all the frustrating and infuriating blundering. The war was completely senseless, the insane war-lust of a failing state; this book gives Austria-Hungary its rightful, starring role as cause of the conflict.

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Star Count 5/5
Format Trade
Page Count 464 pages
Publisher Basic Books
Publish Date 2014-Apr-29
ISBN 9780465028351
Bookshop.org Buy this Book
Issue May 2014
Category History


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