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The Plan That Broke the World: The “Schlieffen Plan” and World War I (What Were They Thinking? Book 2) by [O'Neil, William]
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The Plan That Broke the World: The “Schlieffen Plan” and World War I (What Were They Thinking? Book 2) Kindle Edition

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Length: 205 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled Language: English
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Product Description

"Superb research, analysis, and insights make this work a must read for all those who study history or wish to learn from the critical mistakes of the past. This is the best writing on this subject I have read."--General Anthony C. Zinni, USMC (Retired)

"A superb read, even for those who think themselves already well-versed in this topic." -- John T. Kuehn, Ph.D., William A. Stofft Professor, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. Author of Agents of Innovation.

As July turned to August in 1914, all the Great Powers of Europe mobilized their armies and then went to war with one another. It would take more than 50 months for peace to return, and the better part of a century to heal many of the wounds.

Germany acted only near the end of a chain of actions by other nations, but German troops moved first and set the pattern for the war. They smashed through neutral Belgium before thrusting deeply into France, coming close to knocking France out of the war, and soon were making huge inroads in Russia as well. It was a remarkable performance for an army outnumbered by its foes. Yet four years later the German Empire was swept away, its army a shell, its people starving, its government in chaos.

How did the leaders of Imperial Germany come to make the decisions that committed their nation to an all-or-nothing war based on a highly risky strategy?

This book explores the background of the decisions, what those who made them knew and thought, what they failed to look at and why. It explains the Prussian Great General Staff (Großer Generalstab) and the part it played in planning and preparing for war. It follows the action of August and the first part of September 1914 to show where they went wrong and how other options could have achieved Germany’s aims with far lower risk and cost. These options were realistically available and the book probes why the nation’s leaders failed to consider or rejected them.

The German leaders in 1914 weren’t Hitler. They valued security over conquest and didn’t go to war to expand their empire. They weren't the first to light the fuze that led to war. They thought and acted as leaders very often do. We can understand them in terms of patterns we see all around us, patterns we even see in ourselves. Their decisions had results that were uniquely catastrophic, but the way they were reached was quite ordinary.

The Plan That Broke the World explains it all briefly and crisply, in non-technical terms, drawing on the latest research. There are 35 images, many unique to this book, to illustrate specific aspects of the story. Four charts and thirteen high-quality maps, all but one drawn especially for this book, present complex information in forms that are immediately understandable. There’s no other book like it.

The book Web site is

The Plan That Broke the World is a case study in the What Were They Thinking? series. The series Web site is

About the Author

William D. "Will" O'Neil studied math and business economics; served 41/2 years as a U.S. naval officer (plus another 26 years in the Naval Reserve, retiring as a captain); was a systems engineer in industry and government, working on development of many sensor systems, command and control systems, ships, and aircraft; and became first an engineering manager and then an executive in government and industry. Since the 1970s he has worked very closely as an advisor to top-level officials, commanders, and executives in government and industry.

He made his living by knowledge and worked tirelessly to expand it-technology, war, management, and the physical, biological, and social sciences.

Along the way O'Neil has written a great deal. Much in the form of reports that are secret, or at least not available for public viewing, but there have been dozens of open reports, articles, novels and various other pieces.

His Web site is at

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 6363 KB
  • Print Length: 205 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1481955853
  • Sold by: Amazon Australia Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #593,735 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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20 September 2014
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Most helpful customer reviews on 4.2 out of 5 stars 45 reviews
Drew Keeling
5.0 out of 5 starsA cogent and concise dissection of a major blunder in military strategy
7 July 2014 - Published on
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16 people found this helpful.
Marc Romanych
5.0 out of 5 starsA New and Refreshing View of the Schlieffen Plan
12 April 2014 - Published on
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19 people found this helpful.
C. M Mills
4.0 out of 5 starsA good book on the Schlieffen Plan devised by the head of the Great German General Staff prior to World War I
31 July 2014 - Published on
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9 people found this helpful.
Retired Reader
5.0 out of 5 starsAn Anatomy of a Military Operation
4 April 2014 - Published on
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9 people found this helpful.