The Sleepwalkers

The Sleepwalkers by Christopher Clark

Fascinating book chronicles Europe’s stumbling into WWIthe War to end all Wars.


I was brought up to believe Germany started WWI and WWII. Then I read The Sleepwalkers. End result – all of Europe is responsible for starting the war to end all wars or none of Europe is responsible. Or somewhere in between. Take your pick and you’ll be correct. While Franz Ferdinand’s assassination by Gavrilo Princip is generally recognized as the incident sparking the War, the desire for war had been smoldering for some time waiting for a spark to ignite the Continent

The War that changed the World. Ever wonder why the Middle East is so screwed up? Or why Germany started WWI? Or why the Balkan population is trying to kill each other off? Or why the Communist ruled Russia for 70 years? Look to WWI for the answers.

Actually Germany might actually be less responsible for the War than the other great European powers: France, Russia, and Great Britain.

  • Great Britain was an anti-German since the War of 1870 disrupted the traditional balance of power in Europe that had existed for decades – a comfortable arrangement for Great Britain. Germany upset the apple cart.
  • France was anti-German because Germany humiliated them with the War of 1870 – a war they fully expected to win against the upstart Germans.
  • Russia embarked on a massive military buildup financed by the French after losing the 1905 war with Japan. They were searching for a way to redemm their national honor. Russia also considered themselves big brothers to their South Serbia brothers in the Balkans, mainly Serbia.

Serbia in today’s environment would be considered a rouge nation and ostracized. The evidence is irrefutable that the Serbian “Black Hand” trained the assassins and supplied their weapons. However in the years before WWI there were no multinational organizations.

Germany seemed to be the most reluctant nation to start the War. Their biggest fault may have been standing by their ally Austria-Hungary. France and Russia, on the other hand, were begging for war. England seemed uncertain which side to choose or if they should engage with either side. However, once the Germans determined there was no other option, they declared war on Russia and started marching!

The Germans did invade neutral Belgium and committed what would be considered today war crimes. This action tipped the scales for England and they sided with the Franco-Russian alliance.

Of course the winners write the history books thus we were all brought up to believe Germany caused WWI.



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