Guns of August, Chapters 9-10

In this section, Tuchman paints a picture of the belligerents going to war.  For a number of reasons that the author explains, most Europeans expected a short war.  We’ve discussed in class why this is a frequent sentiment when nations go to war.  Furthermore, those few in position of authority who expected a long war had made no plans to deal with that contingency.

Here, it becomes clear that Germany will violate Belgium’s neutrality and thus bring Britain into the war.  In the chapter on the voyage of the Goeben, you will fnd that Tuchman will hint at her own presence at a significant episode at the beginning of the war.

Chapter 9

Explain the tensions Sir Edward Grey faced in persuading Parliament to stand by France and Belgium against Germany?

What does Tuchman mean when she asserts that both Clausewitz and Angell convinced the belligerents of a short war?

To what was Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg referring when he used the phrase, “scrap of paper”?  Combined with his speech calling for war to the German Reichstag, in what way did he hand a propaganda victory over to the Allies?

What were the ramifications of Italian neutrality?  Why would Germans consider it “treason”?

What accounts for the rather ad hoc quality of Britain’s war plans as Tuchman presents them?

Chapter 10

Assess the state of the Ottoman Empire and its position in European affairs at the beginning of the First World War.

What was the significance of the Goeben?  Why did British officials fail to anticipate Admiral Wilhelm Souchon’s actions?

Did you spot Barbara Tuchman in this chapter?

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Filed under IB History Course, IB History of the Americas

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