Francis Neilson was a Member of the British Parliament when World War I erupeted in 1914. He was one of the first to articulate an honest view of the origins of this war when he wrote HOW DIPLOMATS MAKE WAR. While Nielson comments on sources and events in Great Britian, this is an important study because of the role the British played in this war.
One of myths that Nielson explodes is the one that supposedly the Germans engaged the British in a naval race. As Nielson clearly proves from documents, not newspapers and lying nonsense, the British authorities and press barons started this myth to provoke British hostility against the Germans. In other words, the Germans had no plan to compete with the size of the British Navy until the British made an issue of non-events.
Another myth that was hoisted on the British was the lie that the British entered WWI due to alleged German violation of Belgium neutrality. The Twenty-Four Articles which the British accepted in 1831 only required to honor Belgium neutrality and not to defend it. When the Germans invaded Belgium, this was the pretext for the British declaration of war. What Neilson and other honest historians reveal is that in 1906, the British Foreign Minister Lord Grey (1906-1916) made a secret alliance with French which committed British armed forces if the French got into a war with the Germans. This agreement was so secret that many in the British Government and Members of Parliament were not aware of it until hostilities erupted. To paraphrase a citation that Neilson used, How many fools does it take to make a democracy.
Neilson also makes mention that British cowardly loud mouths who called for war, blood, and death were not the ones getting wounded and slaughtered on the Western Front. These cowardly war wimps were ranting and raving for war while who preached sanity and peace were imprisoned. Yet, those who did preach sanity and peace were well vindicated when the actual results of the war hit home in Great Britain.
Neilson examines some of the underlying causes of Britain's entry into World War. He notes that German industrialism rivaled and surpassed that of the British. He also notes that the British Empire was too costly, and the German economy was in better condition than that of the British. One must remember that the British economy was seriously affected by the Boer War (1899-1902) which the British won only at great cost of lives and expense.
Readers should note just how stupid Lord Grey's and British policy was. The British allied themselves to the French who were in turn allied to the Russians. The stupidity is that during the second half of the 19th the Russians threatened the British Empire in Persia and India. Yet, the British indirectly allied themselves with the only ones who posed a serious threat to their empire. One must note that after World War I, the British Empire collapsed, and the Soviet Empire expanded.
Neilson wrote a readable account based on documents, not textbook and newspaper nonsense,and he was in a position to know as a Member of the British Parliament. Readers will find this book well written and sane. This reviewer strongly recommends this book.