The First World War has been described as the primordial catastrophe of the twentieth century. Arguably, Italian Fascism, German National Socialism and Soviet Leninism and Stalinism would t have emerged without the cultural and political shock of World War I. The question why this catastrophe happened therefore preoccupies historians to this day. The focus of this volume is t on the consequences, but rather on the connection between the Great War and the long 19th century, the short- and long-term causes of World War I. This approach results in the questioning of many received ideas about the war's causes, especially the tion of inevitability.
Holger Afflerbach specializes in 19th- and 20th- Century German history; international relations; military history, particularly World War I and World War II, as well as Austrian and Italian history and has written widely on these topics. Until recently DAAD Professor of History at Emory University, he now teaches at Leeds University. David Stevenson is Professor of International History at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He specializes in the history of international relations in Europe since c.1900, with particular reference to the World War I. His recent publications include Armaments and the Coming of War: Europe, 1904-1914 (Oxford 1996) and Cataclysm: The First World War as Political Tragedy (New York, 2004).