Armed Hostilities

World War I and Political World Domination

Scholarly Literature on the Origins of World War I

The first source under consideration is William Mulligan’s “The origins of the First World War,” a large-scale investigation of the causal aspects that led to the outbreak of the Great War. The author focuses primarily on the history of international diplomatic relations, observing that it is “not simply an account of the origins of the war, but also of the maintenance of peace” (Mulligan, 2017, p. 227). It should also be noted that the Mulligan’s work is vastly based on the secondary literature related to the topic rather than on archival sources, which is determined by an immense latitude of the subject matter. In general, it is possible to observe that the book represents unique and profound research of the Great War origins.

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The book by Mark Hewitson is more specific than the previous source since it focuses on the German domestic and foreign policies in several decades prior to the war. Primarily, the author focuses on the internal processes in Germany to explain the role which was played by various political and social communities in the development of German military and foreign policy, which caused the beginning of the war. The author mentions such groups as nationalists and imperialists, different political parties, industrialists, and military institutions (Hewitson, 2014). This book is remarkable research on Germany’s contribution to the outbreak of the war.

The third source under discussion is the article by Frank C. Zagare, which represents the author’s reflections on the First World War. It is mentioned that to this day, new documents are discovered, and thus the consensus is a subject of continuous changes (Zagare, 2015). In the context of these discoveries, the author aims to answer three principal questions: (1) who is responsible for the outbreak of the war, (2) was it possible to avoid the conflict, and (3) was it an accidental war (Zagare, 2015). In conclusion, Zagare (2015) states that the origins of the war lie “in human agency and not impersonal systematic forces” (p. 4).

Another research, which is also preoccupied with the exploration of the Great war origins on the personal and psychological levels, is a book by Margaret MacMillan. Although the author often describes them as they were trapped by the circumstances, which caused them to make decisions against their will, she still blames them for the lack of courage to resist the public oppression (MacMillan, 2013). In general, the approach, which is used in her work, gives a different perspective on the causes of the Great War, because MacMillan (2013) emphasizes the importance of personal ethics in the political sphere.

The book by Matthew P. Fitzpatrick is an essential study of nationalism’s rise in Imperial Germany, which began decades before World War I, and which caused the emergence of Nazism and, accordingly, the Second World War. The author mostly dwells upon the expulsions of the Jesuits, as they were vastly discriminated in the late XIX century in Germany. But what is also notable, Fitzpatrick (2015) claims that the Jesuit Law of 1872 served as a template for the discrimination of other minorities, including Jews, French, Poles, and Protestant Danes. In general, this research provides a critical analysis of the origins of German nationalism.

This book, under consideration, is edited by Jack S. Levy and John A. Vasquez, and it comprises contributions from numerous scientists. The authors dwell upon the origins of the Great War, especially accentuating the themes of diplomacy, international relations, and their influence on the beginning of the war. One of the more distinctive features of the book is its interdisciplinary approach since the contributors are specialists in different fields of study (Levy & Vasquez, 2014). Moreover, this method causes authors not to always agree with some questions. These qualities shape the thought-provoking nature of the book, which attempts to answer many critical questions about World War I.

Imperialism and Nationalism as Contributing Factors to the Beginning of the War

World War I was one of the deadliest military conflicts in world history. It originated in Europe and then acquired the global status, with over sixteen million of soldiers and civilians who died during the war. The causes which led to the beginning of World War I were complex and involved many political powers, and the consequences of it were immense since the Great War changed the face of the modern world. One of the most fundamental causes was the rise of nationalistic tendencies in the countries, which later would be involved in the conflict, especially in Germany (Hewitson, 2014). It is argued that there were no definite causes for the war, but the constant confrontation of the contemporary empires created a certain level of tension (Levy & Vasquez, 2014). Thus, despite the fact that none of the governors desired for war, they were obliged to obey “the new factor public opinion” (MacMillan, 2013, p. 192), and to get involved into the conflict to defend their highly paced imperialist interests.

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The complexity of the origins of World War I is undeniable, but it is possible to observe that one of the crucial factors was the struggle for the domination on the political map, which finally caused many countries to enter the war. The conflict developed from the many confronting interests and political decisions, most of which were not driven by the purely personal intentions.


Fitzpatrick, M. P. (2015). Purging the empire: Mass expulsions in Germany, 1871–1914. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hewitson, M. (2014). Germany and the causes of the First World War. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Levy, J. S., & Vasquez J. A. (Eds.) (2014). The outbreak of the First World War: Structure, politics, and decision-making. New York: Cambridge University Press.

MacMillan, M. (2013). The war that ended peace: The road to 1914. New York: Random House.

Mulligan, W. (2017). The origins of the First World War. Cambridge University Press.

Zagare, F. C. (2015). Reflections on the Great War. Review of History and Political Science, 3(2), 1-5.

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