First World War Debate: A Recap

A recap of the recent event organised by the British Library and History Today.

Paul Lay | Published in 18 Feb 2014

A few weeks ago a conversation began on twitter about Christopher Clark’s scholarly, highly original and somewhat controversial account of the origins of the First World War, The Sleepwalkers. Gary Sheffield, Simon Schama, Tom Holland and a number of other historians offered their thoughts on the book, asked questions about the outbreak of the conflict and suggested new avenues of inquiry.

Matthew Shaw, a curator at the British Library, came in on the conversation and suggested that we carry on the debate at the BL and a date was fixed for January 17th. History Today and the curators at the British Library tweeted the details of the event – there wasn’t enough time to print any publicity material – and last night 300 people ( sell-out audience) turned up to listen to Gary Sheffield, along with other historians of the Great War – Annika Mombauer, Dan Todman and Neil Faulkner – discuss its origins, its course and its legacy.

The debate was recorded and can be seen in full at the top of this page. Matthew Shaw has also put some of the exchanges, including the original Twitter conversation, on Storify, which is displayed below.