Finished: ‘Catastrophe: Europe Goes to War 1914’ by Max Hastings
Having also read The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 by Christopher Munro Clark, I found ‘Catastrophe’ to be rather light on the lead up to war, particularly on the Serbian state and the personalities involved. Hastings excels once the war starts, his descriptions of the battles, full of colour and detail, are brilliant. He makes god use of first-hand accounts from the time, which really bring home the realities of not only trench life (and death), but the ‘home’ front as well. Most interesting are the descriptions of civil life in the occupied and fought-over areas, several of which evoke vivid impressions of the hellish experience of families caught in a warzone.
Well worth reading, but for a more in depth look at the causes and lead up to the declaration of war, I’d recommend pairing this with Clark’s Sleepwalkers.