Marshall D. Shulman Book Prize


Honorable Mention

The Russian Origins of the First World War

Honorable Mention: Sean McMeekin
Title: The Russian Origins of the First World War (Harvard University Press)

In this engaging and provocative book, Sean McMeekin argues that Russian decision makers sought to provoke the destruction of the Ottoman Empire in order to achieve their longstanding objective of gaining control over the Turkish Straits. Russia’s war aims, and its calculated steps to achieve them, were thus a crucially important factor that has been largely overlooked by historians. In making this case the author provides fascinating new evidence on a number of key issues, including: the early dates of Russian mobilization; Russian efforts to engage fifth column support among Armenians within Ottoman territory; and St. Petersburg’s strategy of manipulating Britain and France into bearing the brunt of casualties at Gallipoli—ultimately in support of Russia’s war aims. In sum, this is an unusually bold and challenging account, one that will force historians to reconsider Russia’s role in the origins of World War I.

Winner: Roger D. Peterson