The best book yet on the causes of the First World War

As the anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War approached,  a number of new books appeared to explain what happened in 1914.

I have read most of the new books published in English, including those by historians Christopher Clark, Margaret Macmillan, Max Hastings, and Sean McMeekin, but in my opinion, the best book on the subject appeared in April this year. It was the product of 14 years’ work  and was written by the German historian Dr.  Markus Osterrieder PhD of Munich. It presents a  more comprehensive and far-reaching view of the causes of the war than any of the books published in English during the last 20 years.

It is titled “Welt im Umbruch  – Nationalitätenfrage, Ordnungspläne und Rudolf Steiners Haltung im Ersten Weltkrieg”,

which translates as “World in Upheaval – The Nationalities Question, World Order Plans, and Rudolf  Steiner’s Stance in the First World War”.

To give English-speaking readers an idea of what Osterrieder’s book deals with, the contents list is below:

Stuttgart: Freies Geistesleben 2014. ca. 1700 pages [probably about 1200 in English] 32 pages of photos and  illustrations. ISBN: 978-3-7725-2600-83  Price: 79 Euros.
Part I: The Nationalities Question in Middle Europe
1. Multiethnicity and homelessness
“…these sacred sites, this homelessness…”  – “Crossing the Border”  – Austria: a Necessity? – The question of nationalism and individual perception – The Nationalities Problem as a question for modern knowledge
2. From Humanity to Nationality
Humanity and “Germanness” in Idealism and early Romanticism – The incision of materialism – Effects of Social Darwinism – “Imitation among apes” – The insidious process of illness – The marriage between industrialism and territorial princes – A connection between Prussianism and Americanism – “Final struggle between Slavs and Germans” – The ‘New Course’ – The Baghdad Railway and the September Programme
3. The ’Peoples’ Spring’ in the Habsburg Empire
The influence of Johann Gottfried Herder – “No Slavic people has a future” – 1848 and the birth of Austro-slavism – The Hungarian nationalities Question - Imperial Pan-slavism – “Seed for a future development – The so-called “Testament of Peter the Great” – The German national stream in the Habsburg Empire – Effects of the linguistic struggle – “Voelkisch fighters” and “Ariosophists” – The figure of the Austrian Heir Apparent – Austria’s path to war
4. The Political Underground
The Promethean revolution – Helena P. Blavatsky and the ‘Great Game’ – Rosicrucian Influences in H.P. Blavatsky’s youth – H.P.B., Cagliostro and the Carbonari – H.P.B. and the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor – Saint-Yves and Synarchy – The Dalip Singh Conspiracy and the ‘Great Game’ – Agartha and the Triple Entente – Juliette Adam, la Grande Française – The “Church” of the Third Republic – The Papus network – The prophesied war – Papus and Synarchy – “Radiant May”: Italy’s path to war – Martinists in the Balkans – The Martinists and Russia 
5. The Way to Sarajevo
Czartoryski’s Memoranda – The South Slav Languages Problem – The ‘Oriental’ and South Slav Question – Great Serbianism  – ‘Young Europe’ and plans for a Balkan Federation – A new map of Europe – ‘Small matters’ – The Black Hand – The Murders in Sarajevo – The Ottoman networks
6. Alliances on the path to war
Sergei Witte’s failure – The ‘dark ladies’ from Montenegro – Rasputin as an opponent of the Triple Entente – The Franco-Russian Alliance – Advocates of the Entente Cordiale – From the Great Game to the Triple Entente – The race to mobilise – “Mobilisation means forcing neighbours to do the same ” – Belgian neutrality.
Part II : The Struggle for a ‘New World Order’
1. The English-speaking Idea
Imperialism, social reform and spiritualism – Electricity and the formation of poles – The Liberal Imperialists – W.T.Stead’s “Spirits”, Pan-Slavism and Annie Besant – A papacy of the English-speaking Idea – The rise of the Atlanticists and the United States of Europe – The Spirits and the coming war – The Coefficients, the Round Table and the “Kindergarten” – The Commonwealth as ‘the Kingdom of God’ – The “wet nurse of Slavdom” – Annie Besant and coming world-imperium
2. The Struggle for Middle Europe
Rudolf Steiner at the outbreak of war – “Bridge over the stream” – Wakeful thinking and dumbing down: on the causes of the war – The split with Édouard Schuré – The relation of Rudolf Steiner and General Helmuth von Moltke – The ‘Mitteleuropa’ debate in 1914/15 – Friedrich Naumann’s “Mitteleuropa” – ‘German culture’ and ‘Middle European culture’ in Rudolf Steiner’s view – Propaganda and consciousness formation – Folk spirits and the tasks of mankind – The spiritual meaning of the key year 1879 – Michael: Guardian spirit of the Germans or Zeitgeist of mankind?
3. The Radicalisation of the Nationalities
Ideological forerunners of the new order – Two Britons and the Habsburg Empire – The arrival of the emigrants – Yugoslav propaganda – Nationalism as a weapon of war – The British change of government in January 1916 – The New Europe – The Zürich Press Office -  Nationalities policies of the British in Eastern Europe – British activities in the Near East
4. The Year 1917 and the Beginning of the Bipolar World Order
Manifest Destiny and the “American Century” – The ‘New Course’ of American Predominance – The Beginnings of the American Round Table Groups – The “disembodied spirit” of Col. House and Woodrow Wilson – The beginning of the bipolar world order – The inter-allied Freemasonic Congress in Paris (January 1917) – Rudolf Steiner and the ‘exposé book’ by Karl Heise – The February Revolution and the role of Freemasonry – The sealed train – “The Bolsheviks are splendid fellows” – “Let’s make these Bolsheviks our Bolsheviks” – Rudolf Steiner’s Memoranda of summer 1917 – “A commercial-industrial world domination” – The League of Nations and the “trustees for all mankind” – Rudolf Steiner on the League of Nations – The catastrophe of Brest-Litovsk and its consequences – “Things are now really falling into chaos!” – The pushing through of ‘the right of national self-determination’
5. The Incomplete Transformation
Commonwealth against nationalism? – “On the sharp edge of a razor” – Versailles and the ‘war guilt question’ – The swastika instead of self-knowledge – ‘Ethnic cleansing as a political principle – The Upper Silesia campaign – The founding of states in Poland, Czechslovakia and Yugoslavia  – The development of an Anglo-American Establishment – Cabals and finance – The “World Commonwealth” – Appeasement
Conclusion: The Call to the Sunken Heart