Slithering over the Brink

Russia and the Origins of the First World War

by D.C.B. Lieven
St. Martin’s Press, 213 pp., $25.00

France and the Origins of the First World War

by John F.V. Keiger
St. Martin’s Press, 201 pp., $25.00

The tragedy of political decisions lies in the fact that again and again politicians find themselves in situations in which they are constrained to act in ignorance of the consequences and without even being able to assess calmly the probable results, the profit or loss that their actions would bring. This is no doubt as true now as it was in 1914.

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