This compelling examination of the causes of World War I deserves to become the new standard one-volume account of that contentious subject.
Clark, a history professor at Cambridge University, concedes the importance of basic structural causes, such as rigid alliance commitments; the temptations of preventive war on a rapidly growing, militarized continent; and the peculiarities of authoritarian decision-making. Yet he believes that such forces alone cannot explain the war and might just as likely have led to peace.
He argues that war emerged from a complex conjunction of factors, each of which was far from inevitable and in many cases even improbable, often because it involved decision-makers who behaved less than fully rationally. They indulged in illusions of power, stereotypes about their enemies, and outmoded conceptions of sovereignty; they succumbed to the demands of transient domestic coalitions; and they misperceived their surroundings, sometimes for no good reason.
In all of this, such leaders were sleepwalkers,generally unaware of the horrific consequences of the war they were about to unleash. This interpretation not only captures trends in modern historiography on the Great War but also highlights striking similarities with and a few differences from the decision-making in contemporary conflicts.
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In-depth analysis delivered weekly - Subscribe to our newsletter, featuring our editors' top picks from the past week. We have to learn the desperate faith of sleep- walkers who rise out of their calm beds. We have to drink the stupefying cup of darkness and wake up to ourselves, nourished and surprised.
For the Sleepwalkers Tonight I want to say something wonderful for the sleepwalkers who have so much faith in their legs, so much faith in the invisible arrow carved into the carpet, the worn path that leads to the stairs instead of the window, the gaping doorway instead of the seamless mirror. I love the way that sleepwalkers are willing to step out of their bodies into the night, to raise their arms and welcome the darkness, palming the blank spaces, touching everything.
Debunking Sleep Myths: Should You Wake a Sleepwalker?
Our hearts are thirsty black handkerchiefs flying through the trees at night, soaking up the darkest beams of moonlight, the music of owls, the motion of wind-torn branches. We have to learn the desperate faith of sleep- walkers who rise out of their calm beds and walk through the skin of another life.
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