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Countdown to War

Length: 1 hr and 55 mins
Categories: History, European
5 out of 5 stars (23 ratings)

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Summary

An audio dramatisation of July 1914 Countdown to War by Sean McMeekin.

'The story of the 37 days that led Europe to war after the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in June 1914.'

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The dominoes fall

I can think of no better listen this Remembrance day than this audio dramatisation of "July 1914 Countdown to War" by Sean McMeekin.

It tells the story of the 37 days that led Europe to war after the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in June 1914. Having dodged a bomb, the poor bugger drove onto to meet his death by assassins bullet. Austria feels its honour is at stake and delivers an ultimatum to Serbia to clamp down on the suspected terrorist organisation behind the assassination as well as other clauses that in effect amount of a surrender of Serbia's sovereignty. Accused of using the assassination as a pretext for invasion, Austria finds itself in the middle of a political storm in which various allies and antagonists form into their different power blocs. Diplomats, Kings and politicians and generals press for war or peace with equal fervour. But the war machine has been set in motion, and events develop a horrifying momentum of their own.

The dramatisation is a series of meetings and conversations in various centres of power. It is the performances and writing that gives this a sense of desperate humanity and urgency that conveys the weight and impact of the decisions made as well as any wide screen Spielbergian epic of the violence of battle could. The sound of signatures on paper here conveys the same dramatic power as the crack of a gunshot. The cast is uniformly excellent and includes Michael Mahoney and Bernard Cribbins.

So glad I found this. Already queued in my feed, "The Path to Peace."

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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A fascinating intimate account rarely understood!

Great selection of details that addresses the small number of key people, personal prejudices and and web of intimate relationships of the ancient regime.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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History Brought to Life

This was a simply incredible short period in world history. The complexities of human society have rarely been so starkly illustrated with the effect of unforeseen consequences allowing a world war to spiral from a local crisis. Portrayed as a series of meetings between the great and good of the key nations 'Countdown to War' cleverly details how the machinations of each of these great states and in many cases the best of intentions begat the worst of outcomes. Literally no-one really ended up with what they wanted out of those 37 days in the final analysis.

Hannah Gordon narrates well and the whole thing moves fast, perhaps requiring a little more than the average in terms of concentration as it zips from city to city.

Definitely well worth a listen.