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@Download Kindle ¸ Ring Of Steel ⚢ An Award Winning Historian Presents A Groundbreaking New History Of World War I From The Perspective Of The Central Powers, Showing How Wartime Suffering Led Not Only To The Fall Of An Empire But Also To A Fundamental Breakdown Of SocietyFor Germany And Austria Hungary The First World War Started With High Hopes For A Rapid, Decisive Outcome Convinced That Right Was On Their Side And Fearful Of The Enemies That Encircled Them, They Threw Themselves Resolutely Into Battle Yet, Despite The Initial Halting Of A Brutal Russian Invasion, The Central Powers War Plans Soon Unravelled Germany S Attack On France Failed Austria Hungary S Armies Suffered Catastrophic Losses At Russian And Serbian Hands Hopes Of A Quick Victory Lay In RuinsFor The Central Powers The War Now Became A Siege On A Monstrous Scale Britain S Ruthless Intervention Cut Sea Routes To Central Europe And Mobilised The World Against Them Germany And Austria Hungary Were To Be Strangled Of War Supplies And Food, Their Soldiers Overwhelmed By Better Armed Enemies, And Their Civilians Brought To The Brink Of Starvation Conquest And Plunder, Land Offensives, And Submarine Warfare All Proved Powerless To Counter Or Break The Blockade The Central Powers Were Trapped In The Allies Ever Tightening Ring Of Steel Alexander Watson S Compelling New History Retells The War From The Perspectives Of Its Instigators And Losers, The Germans And Austro Hungarians This Is The Story Not Just Of Their Leaders In Berlin And Vienna, But Above All Of The People Only Through Their Unprecedented Mobilisation Could The Conflict Last So Long And Be So Bitterly Fought, And Only With The Waning Of Their Commitment Did It End The War Shattered Their Societies, Destroyed Their States And Bequeathed To East Central Europe A Poisonous Legacy Of Unredeemed Sacrifice, Suffering, Race Hatred And Violence A Major Re Evaluation Of The First World War, Ring Of Steel Is Essential Reading For Anyone Seeking To Understand The Last Century Of European History There isn t much popular history available which provides an internal view of the Central Powers during WW1, so this book is a worthwhile read on that basis This is a survey history, so it necessarily covers a great deal of ground at a high level However, the prose is readable, and Watson provides enough details to keep it interesting, for example, a sentence about a Steiff playset of a French POW transport.It s greatest value lies in its description of how the multi ethnic communities of pre war Central Europe became, over the course of 1914 1918, a preview of the bloodlands of WW2, and of how the slave labour economy of the WW2 Third Reich was rehearsed in 1914 1918 They did not spring ex nihilo from the mind of Adolf Hitler It may in some ways explain why Ludendorff found Hitler s ideas congenial enough to join him in the failed beer hall putsch of 1923, and why Hindenburg accepted Hitler as the Chancellor of Germany in 1933 In that regard, there is a lamentably short discussion of how the German army developed skills in propaganda and indoctrination in the latter stage of WW1 Hitler was a great beneficiary of this in his transition from army indoctrination cadre to Bavarian politics in 1919 We are still seeing aftershocks of this today in the Eastern Ukraine. If you ve run across any of my other reviews of World War I related books, you will know that I have spent approximately the last three and a half years trying to learn everything I can about the Great War I can pinpoint the date because this was a conscious decision I made when I learned that my wife with pregnant with our first kid I thought to myself, Self, you re about to lose a bunch of your free time You better choose one thing besides wine as a hobby, and go with it I chose WWI for a couple reasons One, the centenary was coming up now, of course, we re in the midst of it and two, I didn t know anything about it Also, I had been told that World War I pairs well with Yellow Tail chardonnay Things I knew about WWI three and a half years ago 1 It started because one guy shot another guy in Sarajevo 2 Snoopy shot down the Red Baron, thereby assuring Allied supremacy of the blue yonder and 3 The Americans won it, because AMERICA You re welcome as always, Europe It s taken awhile, and a lot of books, a lot of wine, a lot of money spent on books and wine, and a lot of time reading those books and drinking that wine, but I ve just started to grasp how that Sarajevo assassination precipitated a world crisis, and a bit about how that crisis played out As we all know, a little bit of knowledge and that s what I have, a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing It has me putting on airs I now have strong opinions on things that I never knew existed only a short while ago It has given me a bit of a contrarian streak And in that spirit, I purchased Alexander Watson s Ring of Steel This small child of a book 566 pages of text, another hundred plus pages of notes this book is nothing if not well cited not only tells the story of the First World War from the perspective of Germany and Austria Hungary, but it dares to take an apologist s stand At every point where Germany and Austria Hungary are to blame, Watson offers up a defense Well, at just about every point There is no one on earth who can logically defend Austria Hungary s bungled diplomacy following Franz Ferdinand s assassination It was just so bad This is one of the strong and obvious opinions I have formed Ring of Steel starts where every WWI book is legally obligated to begin, with the July Crisis Austria Hungary attempted to use the death of its unloved heir as a pretext for going to war with Serbia, which had been fomenting a dangerous pan Serbian nationalism that threatened the integrity of the Habsburg Empire But instead of just going to war, Austria Hungary tripped over its untied shoelaces and fell flat on its face Germany, needing to prop up its main ally, gave Austria the infamous blank check, a historical moment that feelslike one frat boy accepting a dare from another frat boy than it resembles dead serious international diplomacy In any event, Austria Hungary proceeded with extreme, self defeating slowness, assured of Germany s support, while Germany s bellicose, bipolar Kaiser tried to shove all the toothpaste back into the tube The end result obviously was Germany invading France via Belgium After the July Crisis, Ring of Steel moves onto the war itself But it does this in a unique way It does not present a chronology of battles, battlefields, and overmatched generals It is not interested in the positioning of Army A vis vis Army B Instead, Ring of Steel tackles the war using a topical, thematic approach The chapters present a series of discussions, rather than a series of sequential events The chapter on the opening stages of the war, for instance, does not present the usual narrative It does not move methodically from the siege of Liege to the Battles of the Frontier to the climactic conflict on the Marne Instead, it devotes a great deal of time to examining claims of German atrocities Contemporary Allied propaganda depicted the Germans as Huns bent on rape, murder, and the bayoneting of infants Directly after the war, many of these claims were debunked, and thus, German brutality came to be seen as mostly myth Recently, there has been a pushback against this position, with certain historians I m thinking of Max Hastings, here treating the Imperial German Army as proto Nazis engaged in a dry run of World War II war crimes Watson pushes back against the pushback, in a somewhat, but not entirely successful effort to re contextualize alleged atrocities Similarly, in the chapter on the war on the Eastern Front, Watson steers clear of recapitulating the mistakes and movements that led to the crushing defeat of the Russians at the Battle of Tannenberg Instead, Watson focuses on the invasion of Prussia by Russian troops I thought this was a neat inversion of the typical WWI narrative, which focuses on the victimization of Russian and French civilians Here, you see things from the point of view of a German civilian, just as innocent and shabbily treated as their Allied counterparts Later sections of the book detail the plight of German civilians as a result of the Allied blockade a blockade that considered food to be contraband One of the most interesting chapters takes on the notion of German plans for Europe following victory against the Allies As Watson writes, Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg s war aims program S tated boldly that the general aim of the war was security for all imaginable time This disarmingly simple aim was to be the basis of German policy throughout hostilities While it was defensive in conception, the intention to achieve everlasting security was extraordinarily ambitious When combined with a world view that regarded security as a zero sum game to be won through domination not cooperation, it soon slid into aggression To secure Germany for all imaginable time could not, even in Bethmann s mind and certainly not for thehawkish elites around him, mean merely a return to the unstable status quo of the last peacetime years Instead it required permanent control of invasion routes and the subjection of dangerous neighbors France must be so weakened as to make her revival as a great power impossible for all time Russia must be thrust as far as possible from Germany s eastern frontier and her domination over the non Russian vassal peoples broken Watson notes, rightly, that German war aims were not the cause of the war That is, Germany did not go to war in 1914 to secure these goals Rather, they developed quickly as the war progressed It is also worth noting that while Germany s goals seem, on paper, to be the working paper of a DC Comics supervillain, they are exactly what the Allies did to Germany, once they won the war What the Germans planned, the Allies did, with only an arguable difference in magnitude Redrawing of national frontiers Check Creation of demilitarized buffer zones Check People forced from their homes, or forced to get a new passport Check Reduction to a non great power Checkmate In all my reviews of WWI books, I make reference to the fact that I m on a literary journey It s my way of leaving bread crumbs for those who are also interested in this mammoth subject, and want some ideas about where to start, or where to go next To that end, I should note that this is second or third level reading It operates under the assumption that you have some structural framework in your mind that outlines the broad parameters of the war Watson does not take any time to catch you up to speed He writes as though you already know the general history of WWI, and proceeds to give you the German Austria Hungarian version of it This is a dense book Watson imparts of a lot of information Fortunately, Watson is a decent writer For the most part, he clearly expresses his thoughts and ideas, and he never bogs down in subjects that are objectively uninteresting I m thinking of the chapter in Hew Strachan s book To Arms that is devoted to financing the war, and spendstime on bond yields than I m comfortable with He s a PhD, but I never felt like he was trying to keep me at arm s length as a reader Every once in awhile, Watson will write one of those quintessentially British sentences that go on for a paragraph, are dreadfully passive, and are studded with clauses But for the most part, I have no strong comments about the style, which means that it imparted information without either frustrating me, or causing my heart so soar at the poetry of its prose I think the highest accolade I can give is that a book with such complex arguments and nuance was such a breeze to get through A book like this with such a clear point of view can t help but go too far Does Watson oversell the Germans and Austro Hungarians Sure This would be a problem if it was the only book on World War I that existed It s not, though, and so it is an excellent way to balance the scales The Triple Alliance was not comprised solely of saints, martyrs, and lovers of small animals But neither was it the second coming of a barbarian horde It was a collection of people and Watson gives them their due as people. We began the war, not the Germans and still less the Entente I know that Baron Leopold von Andrian Westberg Ring of Steel Germany and Austria Hungary in World War I by Alexander Watson is the history of World War I from a German and Austrian setting Watson holds a PhD from Oxford University He lectures on the social, economic, military and political history of the First World War, the Second World War, and the Habsburg Empire in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries He currently teaches at Goldsmiths, University of London Watson has published and has done extensive research on the history of World War I Ring of Steel holds the claim to be the first modern history of the war told from the Axis perspective The Axis powers mobilized on an unprecedented scale Germany mobilized almost 13.5 million men, 86% of the male population between the age of 18 and 50 passed through the armed forces between 1914 1918 Austria Hungary mobilized 78% of its military aged men during the years of the conflict Watson makes three main points with this work First the call to war was not just a state command in Germany support ran throughout the country and at all levels Secondly, he attempts to explain the growing and escalating violence of a war that was thought to be defensive by all sides The alliances put both sides on the defensive until the outbreak The third theme concerns the break up of societies by the war Germany and Austria Hungary were very different countries Germany became a state in 1871 and accepted a national identity rather smoothly Austria Hungary was a dual monarchy with two separate parliaments and a centralized foreign policy, military, and finance under the Habsburg leadership Austria Hungary was a collection of separate nationalities and eleven spoken languages Although under a collective empire, there was no ethnic, language, or national unity as in Germany A modern observer looking in at Austria Hungary would be curious as to how it held together Watson brings a few new thoughts to light in his book One event took me by surprise Unrestricted submarine warfare has been debated and is usually regarded as ineffective in the long run Despite the massive amounts of sunk cargo, it did not help Germany in the end Watson makes another point, this is the first time I have heard it, that unrestricted submarine warfare was responsible for Germany s defeat His argument is that England was going broke The war was costing England 2 million pounds a day,and England would be bankrupt by March 1917 and out of the war The United States was at odds with England over its strict contraband definitions and not respecting the rights of neutrals England effectively prevented trade with Germany Unrestricted submarine warfare changed the US position and doomed Germany Watson also concentrates on the social and economic effects of the war in Germany and Austria Hungary Jobs and food became scarce People began their own gardens and even pets changed Dogs and cats were replaced with edible pets rabbits, ducks, and goats Racial issues played a role in the war too The Russians began persecution of Jews in conquered lands The Entente propaganda created German atrocities that did not exist, and Russia s army actively prosecuted soldiers who raped women in occupied territory The Austrian public attacked their Croat soldiers for wearing Croat colors on their uniforms nationalism was an attack on the empire Inside Austria Hungary extreme enforcement of sedition laws were well publicized Ring of Steel gives a detailed look inside both Germany and Austria during WWI Military as well as civilian issues are covered in great detail Watson goes through great lengths to document all his writing Nearly one quarter of the book is bibliography and citations Ring of Steel isthan a war history It is a social history that not only describes the war, but the war s effect on the people. I thought this would be a slog at 800 pages, but found it a surprisingly readable and a thought provoking book.Ring of Steel tells the story of World War 1 from the other side of the hill and claims to be the first modern history from this viewpoint.Being a World War 2 devotee this book really opened my eyes to the German Austro Hungarian viewpoint and decision making in World War 1 It really is a fascinating read telling the story of how Germany and Austria Hungary initially mobilised the support of their populations to but as military losses mounted, and Allied blockades caused hunger and hardship on the homefront, doubts set in Whilst politics are key to understanding the German Austro Hungarian position social and economic effects of the war are covered extensively too.Some nuggets from the book that I hadn t necessarily realised Russia mobilised before Germany, sparking German fears of invasion from the East that unified support across all political divides of the German and most of the Austro Hungarian populace.The general belief in Germany and Austro Hungary that the war was purely a defensive reaction contrary to the Allies view of Germany Austro Hungary as the aggressor.How complex the Austro Hungarian Empire was with its collection of separate nationalities and eleven spoken languages creating no ethnic, language, or national unity as in Germany.There s many , but I d recommend buying the book for those.Whilst a lot of books are currently being produced from the Allies point of view Alexander Watson has filled a vacant space in our knowledge of the German and Austro Hungarian viewpoint Highly recommended.