A Mad Catastrophe: The Outbreak of World War I and the Collapse of the Habsburg Empire

A Mad Catastrophe The Outbreak of World War I and the Collapse of the Habsburg Empire The Austro Hungarian army that marched eastward in the opening campaign of World War I was as disordered a force as the world had ever seen Speaking a mystifying array of languages and carrying outdat

  • Title: A Mad Catastrophe: The Outbreak of World War I and the Collapse of the Habsburg Empire
  • Author: Geoffrey Wawro
  • ISBN: 9780465028351
  • Page: 386
  • Format: Hardcover
  • The Austro Hungarian army that marched eastward in the opening campaign of World War I was as disordered a force as the world had ever seen Speaking a mystifying array of languages and carrying outdated weapons, the troops were hopelessly unprepared for the mechanized warfare that would soon consume the entire continent.As prizewinning historian Geoffrey Wawro explains, tThe Austro Hungarian army that marched eastward in the opening campaign of World War I was as disordered a force as the world had ever seen Speaking a mystifying array of languages and carrying outdated weapons, the troops were hopelessly unprepared for the mechanized warfare that would soon consume the entire continent.As prizewinning historian Geoffrey Wawro explains, the disorganization of these doomed conscripts perfectly mirrored Austra Hungary itself For years, the Dual Monarchy had been rotting from within, hollowed out by complacency and corruption at the highest levels Germany goaded Austria into a longed for fight with Russia and her allies before the monarchy collapsed completely, but the severity of the fighting was too much for the weakened Empire By the time 1914 ended, the Habsburg army lay in ruins, and the course of the war seemed all but decided Reconstructing the climax of the Austrian campaign in gripping detail, Wawro offers a riveting account of how Austria Hungary plunged the West into a tragic and unnecessary war.

    • A Mad Catastrophe: The Outbreak of World War I and the Collapse of the Habsburg Empire by Geoffrey Wawro
      386 Geoffrey Wawro
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      Posted by:Geoffrey Wawro
      Published :2019-08-09T06:17:08+00:00

    About “Geoffrey Wawro”

    1. Geoffrey Wawro

      Geoffrey Wawro is the General Olinto Mark Barsanti Professor of Military History at the University of North Texas, and Director of the UNT Military History Center His primary area of emphasis is modern and contemporary military history, from the French Revolution to the present His fourth book will appear in February 2010 from Penguin Press it is titled Quicksand America s Pursuit of Power in the Middle East.

    896 thoughts on “A Mad Catastrophe: The Outbreak of World War I and the Collapse of the Habsburg Empire”

    1. Assigning blame for the start of World War I is a popular academic parlor game. Like all academic parlor games, it is a total waste of time, and totally worthwhile. Herewith, Matt’s Tips for a Great Night ™: (1) A 1.5 liter of Yellow Tail (per person); (2) Chicken wings; (3) Profound and unanswerable historical questions to be debated vigorously. Over time, two chief culprits have evolved as instigators of the First World War: Germany and Russia. This makes sense for a variety of reasons. Fi [...]


    2. The title says a great deal about the book--"A Mad Catastrophe." The book tells a tale of a once major power having in the process of disintegrating internally. A dual Monarchy had been created--one featuring Austria, the other Hungary. This alone undermined unity of purpose. In addition, the Empire was a mélange of many different nationalities: Austrians, Magyars, Slavs, Croats, Czechs, Rumanians, Poles, and others. There was not necessarily loyalty to the Empire among all of these parties. Th [...]


    3. The Ottoman Empire, known as "the sick man of Europe" had nothing on the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary. The ruling Habsburg dynasty under the leadership of the aged Franz Joseph, was the oldest in Europe and continued to bask in the glory days of the 18th and 19th century. Made up of countries/principalities that all spoke different languages and had different priorities/cultures, the Empire had no domestic consensus on foreign policy, was deeply in debt and had a small military that still de [...]


    4. About the first year of the First World War from the "Habsburg" perspective. Poorly written, ill-conceived.First off, if a book is supposedly about the "Austro-Hungarian" Empire, you'd think the author ought to know something about the second half of that term. But, no, it's obvious that the author knows nothing whatsoever about Hungary. In the end, he actually lists Hungary as one of the "new" nations created at the end of the war along side Slovakia! Slovakia had had no previous existence as a [...]


    5. Years ago in grad school, Hines H. Hall III assigned the Modern Europe seminar to write papers about how the cultures of various great powers led to their diplomatic and military behavior in the lead-up to WWI. I had the Italians. Now, Wawro examines the social, military and political structures of the Austro-Hungarians on the eve of the war, from why the Emperor was surrounded by yes men to the gay spy scandals that titillated the court without sufficiently alarming them about security. Wawro h [...]


    6. Very good, within the parameters of the sub-title. Wawro does an indispensable account of the period August 1914 - early 1915. His main interest is the military history. The account of Austro-Hungarian political history and foreign policy during the run up to the war is somewhat cursory. He is highly critical of Franz Joseph, ascribing a malevolence to the penultimate Habsburg emperor that one doesn't usually see in other accounts of his life and reign. Wawro reserves his chief vitriol for the c [...]


    7. I thought this book was excellent--well written and well researched. As portrayed by the author, the beginning of the Great War was indeed a "mad catastrophe" for the Dual Monarchy. The time wasted at the outbreak of the war, while political and military leaders went on vacation (!) and soldiers were granted leave to deal with the harvest, put the Empire behind from the very beginning. Egos and incompetence severely damaged their war effort. Just 6 months into the war, the army had lost half of [...]


    8. The outbreak of the Great War in the East is woefully understudied, and the Habsburg Monarchy's campaigns against Serbia and Russia is barely treated in English. Geoffrey Wawro, who gave us a very decent study of the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, has produced his own account of the Monarchy and the campaigns of 1914--- one, alas, that's a clear failure. Wawro's account of the diplomacy of June-August 1914 is spotty at best, and his analysis of the relations between the Hungarian and the Cisleitha [...]


    9. An insightful, learned chronicle of how imperial hubris and meaningless slaughter in the First World War brought the crumbling multinational dual monarchy to collapse and the Hapsburg dynasty to an ignominious end.


    10. As must be expected in the centenary years of the seminal conflict of the 20th century, there is a growing avalanche of histories of the origins of World War I. A Mad Catastrophe stands out among these works as a passionately written, highly readable, welcome and important contribution to a shockingly understudied problem: the central role of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in starting the Great War, then in shaping its baleful southern and eastern fronts. Based on impressive local and archival rese [...]


    11. In the last year we have passed many one-century milestones marking the beginning of World War I, known then as The Great War. That decade was a remarkable time, resulting in the fall or reconfiguration of many dynasties and empires - the fall of the Habsburgs, the Ottomans, the Russian tsars, the Manchurian rulers of China, and the first German reich; the decline of British influence; and the rise of America as a world power. The Italians and Ethiopians were affected as well, but to a lesser ex [...]


    12. This is a terrific book about the role of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in bringing on the First World War and the utterly dismal performance of the A-H military in the first year of the war.I had been aware of the failed Austrian campaigns against Serbia and some of the battles against the Russians, but Wawro paints a stark picture not only of the horrors of the battlefield but the dithering and vain commanders who presided over catastrophe after catastrophe. Wawro contends that only problems in [...]


    13. It was interesting reading this book in juxtaposition with Burns' work on the year 1920 in the U. S. Rather than a general overview of the war, Wawro focuses on the doomed Austro-Hungarian empire, with its dysfunctional leadership and rebellious hodgepodge of nationalities. Seemingly incapable of recognizing their shortcomings, the Habsburgs and their minions willfully embarked on a war that would consume a generation in Europe and lay the seeds for an even worse debacle a short time later. It s [...]


    14. This history is terrifying only because it describes the stupidity of WW I and I know that stupidity continues in today's wars.Geoffrey Wawro carefully describes the individuals and realities that insured the Austro-Hungarian Empire was never going to win the war--from the very first shot. Even if they had the arms (which they didn't), or the men (ditto), they had leaders who had no sense of reality.This is a very important look at the Austro-Hungarian role in WW I (rather than the German) and i [...]


    15. The First World War was, as the title says, "A Mad Catastrophe" that may have been averted had the Hapsburg dynasty, which had out-lived its usefulness, had not reacted to the assassination of the heir apparent, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, in Sarajavo like George W. Bush did to the events of September 11, 2001. Of course the analogy is not perfect for Austria-Hungry did not survive the brutal war its aging, senile emperor blundered into with eyes wide shut and ceremonial saber drawn.In 1914 the Au [...]


    16. This book gives a look inside the Austria empire at the beginning of the 1st world war, it is a look that is lacking in most narratives of the Great War. It is central to understand why the Austrian empire was weak and why it couldn't have never won the war and this book makes a good job of trying to explain precisely that. There are many books that go deeper into the offensives in France , or Russian territories but I hadn't been able to find a book that focused on the Austrian border and its c [...]


    17. Austria-Hungary certainly had no business going to war in 1914. The empire's ethnic tensions, military weaknesses and lack of grasp of modern realities meant that not only was it certain that war would mean defeat, but they also dragged the rest of the world into the war with them, with catastrophic results, one of which was the monarchy's fall and political dismemberment. Austria-Hungary was not strong enough to play the role of a great power, but apparently nobody told her. An excellent introd [...]


    18. Superb account of Austria hungaries blundering entry into ww1Years ago I played an SPI wargame of ww1 eastern front which rated all the armies germans best then ruskis then Austrians then ItaliansAlways thought it was a bit hard on franz jozefs boys but turns out it was being generousDim witted buffoons launch suicidal bayonet attacks , by mar 1915 the austro Hungarian army was a demoralised milita and having read wawros other books I can believe it.The one image I take is from an infantryman i [...]


    19. An unrelentingly depressing account of horrors, mistakes, idiocy and descent into chaos. A stronger indictment of Austrian-Hungarian leadership prior and during the initial years of World War One would be hard to conceive.


    20. Great coverage of the Austro-Hungarian Empire's role in WWI. This really added a whole new level to my understanding of the war and its outcomes by treating an often ignored, or generalized, aspect of the conflict.


    21. Author Geoffrey Wawro clearly feels a lot of things about the Habsburg Dual-Monarchy, but the one feeling that reigns above all else is a visceral sense of disgust. Disgust with the bloated and incompetent bureaucracy, disgust with the cynical calculations about ethnic conflict that pushed Austria-Hungary to devastating war, disgust with the leadership from Emperor Franz Joseph all the way on down, and disgust with the futility of it all.And, after reading his case, I can't help but feel at leas [...]


    22. This account is detailed and includes some interesting small illuminating facts concerning Austria-Hungary’s status prior to WWI and its preparations and conduct of the first years of the war. It is a long book but flows easily. The author’s tone is arrogant in places, and seems to be biased against the Austrian-Hungarian side, when even the book indicates that other powers included similar fallacies. Some comments on situations seem to be contradictory simply to prove what he is currently a [...]


    23. Perhaps a bit too lengthy and scholarly for what I wanted so I skimmed a lot but did get a view of the Eastern Front in WWI and the repercussions from the war. And those were fascinating. The author's opinion is that Austria/Hungary was a mess going into WWI, was a fool for starting it & thinking that it would pull their ethnic mosaic of peoples & languages together, used their men as battle fodder (not arming, training, feeding, or leading them) and the destruction & anger & unr [...]


    24. The author has researched the topic with close attention to details. He offers a narrative of an important side of WWI, ignored by westerners focusing on the battlefronts of France and Flanders. This is a must read book for anyone seeking to understand the roots of WWII and to trace back events in Yugoslavia in the aftermath of Soviet collapse and Cold War. It is an enjoyable read, although the last two chapters do not have the detailed portraits offered in the first ones.


    25. A sort of Guns of August of the eastern front specifically focused on the utter ineptitude of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, with just a bit from the German side. This is a fairly untold portion of the war and this gives a very good overview of it. I never realized how weak an empire the Austrian/Hungarian was and how fractured as well and I learned a lot about this mostly glossed over portion of the war. Well worth the read and if you enjoy WW I history a must read.


    26. Austria-Hungary how they even managed to remain in the war for the duration is a wonder. More inept leadership you'd be hard-pressed to find.


    27. In this gloomy volume, Wawro gives the reader a vivid portrait of a corrupt, chaotic, divided, and paralyzed empire at war. Wawro describes most of the empire’s major military campaigns, many of which were utter disasters. Although most histories of the war treat Austria-Hungary as an afterthought after covering the July Crisis, Wawro gives us a good deal of insight into the empire’s war effort. As the title suggests the book is heavy on the war’s “outbreak,” but does not provide a com [...]


    28. About a year or so ago I wanted to jump back into reading, and reading history specifically. and I thought to myself, where to start? Long story short, I thought to myself: What do I know about World War 1? The answer was simple: Next to nothing. A general overview of events courtesy of a history class in college, but my knowledge was very cursory and limited. I then started asking family and friends what they knew. Shockingly enough, no one knew much about any of it. I thought that this was cra [...]


    29. A flawed and incomplete history of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the Great War.At 385 pages long including introduction and epilogue, the first third of the book is a broad-brush description of the political and military situation in Austro-Hungary immediately previous to the opening of WW1. Unfortunately most of this is wasted, as the author largely reiterates the obstructionism of the Hungarian part of the empire and the incompetence of the Imperial government and military leadership over and [...]


    30. This book is an historical account of the role of Austria-Hungary in the onset and early battles of WWI (up through early 1915). It is not a flattering account. Most who have read about the war know that it was A-H's insistence on settling conflicts with Serbia that got the ball rolling towards global war. This history expands on that point on several fronts. First, the empire was inherently unstable, almost from its most recent reorganization in the 1860s, which suggests that the effort to solv [...]


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