Through a forensic study of the personal papers of many of the key figures on both sides of the debate, historian Douglas Newton pieces together what really went on in the frenetic weeks between the assassination in Sarajevo and the declaration of war on August 4, 1914.
Many recently published histories of Britain's Great War embrace the war as a good war—irresistible, righteous, and popular. It has become almost heretical to offer criticism of Britain's intervention. This book presents a new critical examination of the government's choice for war, and weaves into the story an account of those 'Radicals' and other activists who urged a neutral diplomacy in 1914.
The Darkest Days shows how the war-hungry leaders and the right-wing press hustled the nation into war, making only the barest efforts to save the peace. As a result the declaration was the result of political negotiation, dishonesty and willful belligerence that split the cabinet and kept the opposition and the nation itself in the dark until it was too late.
Praise for Douglas Newton's previous books:
"Newton writes well, and with a feel for the tragedy of the Great War missing in most accounts ... the scholarship invested in this work is meticulous."—John McDermott, International History Review
"a study … of the first importance."—New Society "Newton's history is meticulously researched ..."—History Workshop Journal
"has broken new ground… an important contribution to our knowledge."—English Historical Review