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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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What listeners say about Countdown to War

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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."

8 people found this 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.

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ctw

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Amazing stuff

Loved it, crazy how this all unfolds and great having detailed background on these key events building to war that’s broadly overlooked. We all know from school assassination led to war as the general lesson but how close it was to being so different. This was the last time such a nonchalant approach to war has happened and this point was very well conveyed.

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very interesting

I learned much by listening to this so sad it did no good and ended in death for ten million people

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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.

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ww1

This was very interesting, I'd like to listen to more like this xx There were things in this that I didn't know.

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An interesting dramatisation

Although I was already aware of the lead up to the Great War, this dramatisation demonstrated the domino effect of the initial shooting in Bosnia upon all the countries involved and their differing viewpoints. It should have been confined to a more local conflict but the Habsbergs' desire to maintain their power and prominence led to such a more devastating, wider conflict. An interesting dramatisation.

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So It Wasn't German Aggression After All...

I was already aware that WW1 wasn't started by the Germans invading Belgium - despite what O' level History taught us in the early 1980's. But then again, neither was WW2. Don't believe me..? Do your own research. The demonisation of Germany started before WW1. But, as is usual, history is written by the victors. Still, this was a fascinating and detailed account of the dealings, double-dealings, subterfuge along with the usual amount of hawks and doves that fly around diplomatic cages. The only thing that let it down for me, was the total lack of accents for those not English. I think I even heard a Lancashire accent in there somewhere. For context, it would have been better if those from Serbia, France, Germany, Austria, etc spoke in English with the prerequisite accent from those countries. Surely actors could have been found from the countries involved..? Still, that's not to detract from a very well produced podcast. And as usual, I neglected to get my chores done because - once again - Audible presented me with a fantastic piece of work. *sigh* 😁

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History is always interesting

History is always interesting but especially so when presented and brought to life by such a professional team of actors. superb narration moved the story along at a good pace.