The Decline of Bismarck's European Order: Franco-Russian Relations, 1875-1890

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The Decline of Bismarck's European Order: Franco-Russian Relations, 1875-1890

By George F. Kennan
Princeton University Press, 1979
420 pp. $25.00
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A celebrated diplomat turned historian examines the origins of the Franco-Russian alliance and thus offers his own interpretation of European diplomacy at the time. He considers that alliance as fateful, the more so as later statesmen added further miscalculations. The ensuing division of Europe helped to bring on the greatest disaster of our century, World War I. A magnificently written, independently argued history, with an incomparable eye for character and specific situation. Persistent errors of judgment are blamed partly on the rising force of unreasoned nationalism. With our own present explicitly in mind, Kennan deplores the assumption of so many actors of the time that wars were rational instruments of policy, an assumption that drove Europe into the great bloodbath and if still cherished today would bespeak utter recklessness. A fascinating work that has the stamp of the author on every page.