This week’s selection begins with the enduring problems of the Russian Empire, and the ultimate failure to enact reforms in the army. Consider why Russia pledged to fight in support of France, and how its contribution would affect the course of the coming war. Tuchman proceeds from war plans to the first days of the war. Focus on the relationship between Germany’s military leadership and the Kaiser, and why Wilhelm II and Helmuth von Moltke made the fateful choices that would ultimately turn a European war into a global one. What steps were the French and British taking in the face of the coming German advance? Pay attention to the problems faced by the British government as it balanced its tacit commitment to France with the need to keep the support of a people reluctant to go to war. Finally, ponder the implications of Germany’s ultimatum to Belgium, and the decision of Albert I to resist.