Germany's Defeat in the First World War
The Lost Battles and Reckless Gambles That Brought Down the Second Reich
by Mark D. Karau
May 2015, 212pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-39619-9
$65, £50, 57€, A90
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eBook Available: 978-0-313-39620-5
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Britain’s victory in the naval and economic wars during WWI were critical blows to Germany.

A noted World War I scholar examines the critical decisions and events that led to Germany's defeat, arguing that the German loss was caused by collapse at home as well as on the front.

Much has been written about the causes for the outbreak of World War I and the ways in which the war was fought, but few historians have tackled the reasons why the Germans, who appeared on the surface to be winning for most of the war, ultimately lost. This book, in contrast, presents an in-depth examination of the complex interplay of factors—social, cultural, military, economic, and diplomatic—that led to Germany’s defeat.

The highly readable work begins with an examination of the strengths and weaknesses of the two coalitions and points out how the balance of forces was clearly on the side of the Entente in a long and drawn-out war. The work then probes the German plan to win the war quickly and the resulting campaigns of August and September 1914 that culminated in the devastating defeat in the First Battle of the Marne. Subsequent chapters discuss the critical factors and decisions that led to Germany’s loss, including the British naval blockade, the role of economic factors in maintaining a consensus for war, and the social impact of material deprivation.


  • Starts a new and fuller discussion of Germany's defeat that goes beyond the battlefields of the Western Front
  • Argues that Germany's defeat was caused by a complex interplay of domestic, social, and economic forces as well as by military and diplomatic factors
  • Integrates the internal problems the German people experienced with Germany's defeats at sea and on land
  • Highlights the critical role played by Britain and the United States in bringing about Germany's defeat
  • Discusses the failures of German military planning and the failure of the nation's political leaders and military leaders to understand that war is the continuation of diplomacy by other means
Mark D. Karau, PhD, is associate professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan. He is the author of Praeger's Wielding the Dagger: The MarineKorps Flandern and the German War Effort, 1914–1918. Karau earned his doctorate in history from Florida State University in 2000.
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