There is a small plaque on a street corner in Sarajevo that commemorates the spot where Austro - Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his pregnant wife Sophie were assassinated a century ago. It is surprisingly small given the world shaking events sparked there. The villain was Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip whose handful of bullets empowered him and fundamentally changed the course of history. Harlan Ullman’s book just touches on the chain of events that led from a wrong turn taken by Franz Ferdinand’s driver to the First World War. Interpretations of that chain of events range from entangling alliances to German war plans driven by railroad timetables to officials in various European capitals miscalculating risk and sleeping walking their way into conflict. If you want to better understand why the First World War started, read Barbara Tuchman’s The Guns of August or Christopher Clark’s The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914. But if you want to understand these events in a much broader historical and global context, read Ullman’s volume. After digesting Ullman’s book, that street corner plaque seems even smaller than before.