The War That Ended Peace

Award-winning historian Margaret MacMillan examines the forces that led to the First World War.

Margaret MacMillan

The First World War followed a period of sustained peace in Europe during which people talked with confidence of prosperity, progress, and hope. But in 1914, Europe walked into a catastrophic conflict that killed millions, bled its economies dry, shook empires and societies to pieces and fatally undermined Europe's dominance of the world. It was a war that could have been avoided up to the last moment — so why did it happen? Beginning in the early 19th century and ending with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, award-winning historian Margaret MacMillan uncovers the huge political and technological changes, national decisions, and just as important, the small moments of human muddle and weakness that led Europe from peace to disaster. This masterful exploration of how Europe chose its path toward war will change and enrich how we see this defining moment in our history. (From Allen Lane Publishers)

Read an excerpt | Author interviews

From the book

His older compatriot Friedrich Nietzsche had entertained no such hopes: "For long now our entire European culture has been moving with a tormenting tension that grows greater from decade to decade, as if towards a catastrophe: restless, violent, precipitate, like a river that wants to reach its end.

From The War That Ended Peace by Margaret MacMillan ©2014. Published by Penguin Canada.

Author interviews

Margaret MacMillan is one of the world's leading scholars on World War One. She talks with Paul Kennedy about the origins of the war and what we've learned -- and failed to learn -- from it.
Historian Margaret MacMillan on her new book "The War That Ended Peace" The Road to 1914" and why World War I was not the inevitable conflict we think it to be.