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30 review for The Fateful Alliance: France, Russia and the Coming of the First World War

  1. 5 out of 5

    emilio squillante

    Turgid for me, a scientist, but insightful and instructive to the lay person. BTW, why is it always the banks getting us in trouble?

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jim Bogue

    Mr. Kennan spent most of his long and distinguished career focused on the history and diplomacy of Russia, the Soviet Union, and then Russia again (he was born 13 years before the birth of the USSR and outlived it by 14 years). He writes with insight and wit. He is thus the perfect man to explore the circumstances of the negotiations for the Franco-Russian military alliance from 1890-1894. Since Russia was by far the most reactionary great power in Europe at this time, and France the most liberal Mr. Kennan spent most of his long and distinguished career focused on the history and diplomacy of Russia, the Soviet Union, and then Russia again (he was born 13 years before the birth of the USSR and outlived it by 14 years). He writes with insight and wit. He is thus the perfect man to explore the circumstances of the negotiations for the Franco-Russian military alliance from 1890-1894. Since Russia was by far the most reactionary great power in Europe at this time, and France the most liberal, there were grave drawbacks to such an agreement; they were overshadowed by both powers’ suspicion and fear of Germany (and in Alexander III’s case his strong dislike of the Kaiser). With Bismarck’s removal from power Germany seemed far less predictable than before. For Russia this was magnified when Germany declined to renew its treaty with Russia. Kennan focuses on the secrecy with which the negotiations were carried out. In Russia, all decisions were in the hands of the Czar - only he, his Foreign and War Ministers (both of whom opposed the treaty), a few generals (strongly in favor) and his family knew what was happening. France was a Republic, but nonetheless only a few officials were privy. This naturally, in a time of slow communications, kept things moving at a glacial pace. This is a fascinating study, based on extensive research. A fine introduction to the buildup to WWI.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Andreas

    The book deals with the coming together of France and Russia which were politically isolated for different reasons at the time; France due to Bismarck politics to keep it isolated, and Russia due to Germany letting the Reinsurance Treaty lapse. It shows that France from the outset guided Russia in concentrating the Russian forces against Germany rather than the actual enemy. The Russian tsar Alexander III was dreaming at the same time about a Germany broken up into a series of weak small states The book deals with the coming together of France and Russia which were politically isolated for different reasons at the time; France due to Bismarck politics to keep it isolated, and Russia due to Germany letting the Reinsurance Treaty lapse. It shows that France from the outset guided Russia in concentrating the Russian forces against Germany rather than the actual enemy. The Russian tsar Alexander III was dreaming at the same time about a Germany broken up into a series of weak small states and hence unable to support Austria-Hungary, or pose any serious threat to Russia. While the Triple Alliance was truly defensive in nature the Franco-Russian alliance was clearly motivated by offensive goals to destroy Germany according to the author. A good book worth reading providing a solid basis on the topic.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Allan

    The author was the American diplomat in Moscow for a short time and had written and advised about the Soviet Union. His perspectives on Russia, one would expect, were different than those typically trained historians. There were a few things I took away from the book. General Nikolai Obruchev's 1891 comment about mobilization no longer being a peaceful act, but rather an act of war (when was mobilizing an army ever considered peaceful?). The French insistence on a simultaneous mobilization - bot The author was the American diplomat in Moscow for a short time and had written and advised about the Soviet Union. His perspectives on Russia, one would expect, were different than those typically trained historians. There were a few things I took away from the book. General Nikolai Obruchev's 1891 comment about mobilization no longer being a peaceful act, but rather an act of war (when was mobilizing an army ever considered peaceful?). The French insistence on a simultaneous mobilization - both France and Russia mobilizing in case of war with Germany. And Russian foreign minister Giers' level headedness when it came to looking out for the best interests his country and his Tsar. Giers wanted to give his Tsar other options while not being boxed in by treaty in case circumstances warranted. The tragedy is that Giers passed away shortly after Alexander III and the Russians failed to learn from Giers' hard work. Keenan said he tried to find Giers' grave but could not as the church had been converted to an off-limits government building. I too looked for it on the internet given that it's been almost two decades since the collapse of the Soviet empire. No luck. This is what you get when a former engineering manager reviews a book. Engineers are notorious for writing their life's history on the back of a book of matches or on a single napkin - with room to spare.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    A very interesting and scholarly review of the negotiations involved in formalizing the French / Russian Alliance in the 1890's. It is not an easy read by any definition; but it was a very worthwhile book to read. Keenan argues that the terms of this Alliance set the scene for the next 60 years of war in Europe. The characters on all sides are made real showing their strengths and faults. Alexander III, the Kaiser and Carnot are well-known to history. But Kennan brings to life the supporting cha A very interesting and scholarly review of the negotiations involved in formalizing the French / Russian Alliance in the 1890's. It is not an easy read by any definition; but it was a very worthwhile book to read. Keenan argues that the terms of this Alliance set the scene for the next 60 years of war in Europe. The characters on all sides are made real showing their strengths and faults. Alexander III, the Kaiser and Carnot are well-known to history. But Kennan brings to life the supporting characters who, for the most part, made the Alliance possible. The interactions and intrigue are fascinating. I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading history.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mark Singer

    This is a detailed account of the how the alliance between Russia and France came to be in the early 1890s. The treaty between the unlikely partners of Tsarist Russia and republican France was pursued by each for differing objectives, but both felt isolated in international affairs, and threatened by the partnership of Germany and Austria-Hungary. The terms of the treaty dictated that Russia and France were committed to come to the aid of the other in event of an attack by fully mobilizing their This is a detailed account of the how the alliance between Russia and France came to be in the early 1890s. The treaty between the unlikely partners of Tsarist Russia and republican France was pursued by each for differing objectives, but both felt isolated in international affairs, and threatened by the partnership of Germany and Austria-Hungary. The terms of the treaty dictated that Russia and France were committed to come to the aid of the other in event of an attack by fully mobilizing their armies, and Kennan describes the long-term consequences of this agreement.

  7. 4 out of 5

    David Nichols

    The author's central thesis - that the Franco-Russian alliance was the product of a predominant European theory of total war and total victory - is a useful one, but his narrative is, regrettably, a dull and turgid one. The author's central thesis - that the Franco-Russian alliance was the product of a predominant European theory of total war and total victory - is a useful one, but his narrative is, regrettably, a dull and turgid one.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Darby Holladay

  9. 4 out of 5

    Dan

  10. 4 out of 5

    Andy Rotering

  11. 5 out of 5

    Steven

  12. 5 out of 5

    Forrest Link

  13. 4 out of 5

    Meghan Laidlaw

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ray LaManna

  15. 4 out of 5

    Johnny

  16. 5 out of 5

    William

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jack

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tom DeMarco

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ross

  20. 4 out of 5

    jennet wheatstonelllsl

  21. 4 out of 5

    Michael Roberts

  22. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Palmer

  23. 4 out of 5

    Steve

  24. 5 out of 5

    David

  25. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Mccauley

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kim

  27. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

  28. 4 out of 5

    Robert

  29. 5 out of 5

    Todd Strohmeyer

  30. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Coleman

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