The Forgotten Monarch: Franz Joseph and the Outbreak of the First World War (Paperback)
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This very short book explores how Emperor Franz Joseph I was the key decision-maker in Austria-Hungary during the July Crisis that led to the First World War. As the key decision-maker, the arbiter between war and peace, his decision to sanction war on 23 July 1914 proved crucial. The monarch must be studied to understand how and why the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy chose war in 1914. World War I was not inevitable. We should not read history backwards. The assassinations of the Austro-Hungarian heir to the throne Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and his wife Sophie Chotek, at Sarajevo on 28 June 1914 were a crossroad, not a way station, on the road to Armageddon. The catastrophe that fell upon Europe in the summer of 1914 did not follow a well-worn path. The European apocalypse was not preordained; rather it came because decision-makers in the capitals of the old continent failed. One of the first capitals to fail was the Austro-Hungarian: Vienna.Austria-Hungary chose to use Sarajevo. This was not a policy of revenge or an impulsive act. Cold calculated reason led the Austro-Hungarian Emperor to bring his realms to the brink of war. When the crucial moment finally came, Franz Joseph, the one man who could stop the war machine, the one man who could disperse the gathering storm, simply failed. Aware of the consequences, with a stroke of a pen, the monarch signed the declaration of war that would soon lead Europe, and the world, to unfathomable tragedy.