Seminar by Professor Christopher Clark
Published: Thu 15th November
Professor Christopher Clark of Cambridge University will be giving a seminar titled "The Sleepwalkers: How Europe went to war in 1914" on Tuesday, 27 November at Renehan Hall, St. Patrick's College.
There will be a drinks reception at 5:30 pm and the seminar will start at 6:00 pm.
All are welcome
Professor Christopher Clark
Christopher Clark is Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of St Catharine's College. His research interests are centred on the history of nineteenth-century Germany and continental Europe. His early work focused on the political and cultural history of religion and his first book was a study of the relationship between Christians and the Jewish minority in Prussia between 1728 and 1941; here he explored the ways in which contemporary understandings of Christianity shaped successive mutations of the 'Jewish Question' In 2004 he co-edited, with Wolfram Kaiser, an edited volume about the 'culture war' between Catholic and secular social forces that polarized so many European states in the years 1850-1890. He then went on to publish a study of Kaiser Wilhelm II (2000) and completed a general history of Prussia called Iron Kingdom the Rise and Downfall of Prussia 1647-1900 (Penguin, 2006) which was widely praised. His latest book, The Sleepwalkers: how Europe went to war in 1914 (Allen Lane, 2012) has also been rapturously received and credited for bringing an entirely fresh and original approach to the complex constellation of geopolitical issues associated with the pre-1914 period in Europe. Professor Clark has been awarded the Officer's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.
The Sleepwalkers: how Europe went to war in 1914 (Allen Lane, 2012)
The moments that it took Gavrilo Princip to step forward to the stalled car and shoot dead Franz Ferdinand and his wife were perhaps the most fateful of the modern era. An act of terrorism of staggering efficiency, it fulfilled its every aim: it would liberate Bosnia from Habsburg rule and it created a powerful new Serbia, but it also brought down four great empires, killed millions of men and destroyed a civilization. What made a seemingly prosperous and complacent Europe so vulnerable to the impact of this assassination? In "The Sleepwalkers" Christopher Clark retells the story of the outbreak of the First World War and its causes. Drawing on many fresh new sources, this account reveals a Europe very different from the familiar picture, putting Serbia and the Balkans at the centre of the story. Starting with the brutal assassination of Alexander I of Serbia in 1903, Clark shows how, far from being the place of enviable stability it appears to us, Europe was racked by chronic problems: a multipolar, fractured, multicultural world of clashing ideals, terrorism, militancy and instability, which was, fatefully, saddled with a conspicuously ineffectual set of political leaders. He shows how the rulers of Europe, who prided themselves on their modernity and rationalism, behaved like sleepwalkers, stumbling through crisis after crisis and finally convincing themselves that war was the only answer.
The Sleepwalkers re-imagines the First World War to make it feel raw and, in many ways, modern. Above all, it shows how there was a total failure to understand the seriousness of the chaotic, near genocidal fighting in the Balkans: it was this failure that would drag Europe into catastrophe.
Praise for the Sleepwalkers:
A brilliant contribution (Times Higher Education )
Formidable ... one of the most impressive and stimulating studies of the period ever published (Max Hastings Sunday Times )
Clark is fully alive to the challenges of the subject. Planting himself at the contingent end of the spectrum, he prefers to establish how the war happened rather than to explain why by means of hindsight ... It is a refreshing approach. He provides vivid portraits of leading figures ... [He] also gives a rich sense of what contemporaries believed was at stake in the crises leading up to the war (Irish Times )