The Sleepwalkers Summary

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The introduction and conclusion of Christopher Clark’s book, The Sleepwalkers, and the introduction of Margaret MacMillan’s book, War or Peace, both examine the origins and the events that led to the First World War. Clark focuses on examining how the war broke out while MacMillan focuses on why the war started particularly in 1914. In his introduction, Clark states the difficulties experienced when researching the origins of the First World War. These problems include the artifacts’ use as propaganda and their unreliability, incompletion, or absence. Clark stresses that policymaking was opaque and intricate because many influenced it, and therefore it is prone to several interpretations. Consequently, the historian chose to study the First …show more content…
She likewise examines the origins of the Great War but assumes a different approach. By specifically looking at individual pre-war events, she assesses when war became more likely than peace. She sees the war to be a result of strategies malfunctioning, for example, Belgium fending off the Germans. She also distinguishes the roles of individuals who had the power to start or end the war and the pressures that made them commit to their decisions. The historian uses the attacks on Louvain to highlight the senseless destruction of culture from the war, which was inconvenient to all parties as a result of their interlinking economies. However, countries, such as Russia, underestimated the future impact the war and saw in it advantages such as ending tensions or uniting their countries. Similar to Clark, MacMillan also explains the complications of holding Germany as the responsible party and how this is an ongoing debate to this …show more content…
Clark clarifies that the how approach is superior to the why approach in its objectivity as the why approach makes war seem inevitable, while MacMillan chooses to look at the events which made war more likely than peace. Clark believes that war improbable more than inevitable until it actually happens, while MacMillan believes it to have become increasingly probable with every “turn” taken, an idea presented through her analogy. Her analogy over simplifies the interactions before the war as it implies that every country could have made its decisions independently. However, Clark believes that the war was very complex because of the interlinking of the socioeconomics of Europe. In the end, both historians agree that nations fell into war because they were incapable of resolving their problems without an inventive political leader, such as Bismarck. Overall, both MacMillan and Clark used their book to discuss the origins of the Great War, a major turning point in history, and used similar points and arguments in doing so despite some differences. Their articles both combine to give a well rounded view into the start of the war and its casus

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