Review: The Burden of Guilt (Butler)

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The Burden Of Guilt: How Germany Shattered The Last Days Of Peace, Summer 1914

The author tells the story of those fragile few days by focusing separately on the actions of each of the eventual belligerents, ensuring that the reader learns the history well and becomes thoroughly conversant with the author’s thought-provoking, pointedly politically-incorrect premise.

Many modern examinations of this topic are governed by the belief that responsibility for the war should be shared. Such revisionism does not hold up when Wilhelm’s manipulative behavior is seen for what it was: a successful campaign to deceive other heads of state and public opinion into giving him the war he wanted.

I own histories of this event that have elicited horror, memoirs that have inspired empathy, and analytical studies that have evoked amazement, but this book is the first to have moved me from disbelief to disgust to dismay that ended in tears when I closed the cover.

I enjoyed the author’s literary/lyric writing style, especially his use of alliteration (I suppose that’s because I write that way), although some awkwardly redundant passages suggest a need for improved content editing, and a few startling typographical errors indicate a need for more attentive proofreading (both of which I suppose I noticed because I had to work so hard on such things in preparing my own manuscript for publication).

The book is sturdily bound in hardcover with an elegantly composed, glossy dust jacket, and a selection of photos not usually found in other books about the Great War era. Its content and appearance make this a good addition to any Great War collection.

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