I first read this book back in the late 1980’s. As an introduction to the beginnings of World War I, you probably can not find a better one volume resource.
Beginning with an overview of Europe at at beginning of the 20th Century and each countries interaction with each other, their competition for domination, and their different wars in in the late 19th century. She also compares the relative strengths and strategic goals of the major combatants in 1914. This not a small book, it’s full of detailed information. Some may feel a bit too much is included, but personally I think the information puts in a place and time that would be hard to do otherwise. The book does end after the initial failure of the Germans to quickly beat the Allies into submission – leading to 4 more years of death and destruction.
This books is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize and given the 100th anniversary of the end of the “War to End All Wars” – it is still a timely, expertly researched, and well written book.