Abstract: After many years of broad consensus among serious historians, the origins of the First World War are once again fiercely contested. In this lecture Professor Gary Sheffield argues that the currently fashionable view that no state can be blamed for causing the war, that Europe 'sleepwalked' into a devastating conflict, is wrong. War guilt rests with the leaders of Germany and Austria-Hungary, who took conscious decisions in the summer of 1914 that led to Armageddon.
Biography: Professor Gary Sheffield holds the Chair of War Studies in the Department of History, Politics and War Studies, at the University of Wolverhampton. He was educated at the University of Leeds (BA, MA) and King's College London, where he studied for his Ph D under the supervision of Professor Brian Bond. He started his academic career in the Department of War Studies, Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, before moving to King's College London's Defence Studies Department, based at the Joint Services Command and Staff College, Shrivenham, where he was Land Warfare Historian on the Higher Command and Staff Course, the UK's senior operational course for senior officers. Awarded a Personal Chair by KCL in 2005, he took up the newly-created Chair of War Studies at the University of Birmingham in 2006 before moving to the University of Wolverhampton in September 2013. Professor Sheffield is an internationally-recognised expert on the First World War, especially the role of the British army. He has published many books and articles, including the best-selling Forgotten Victory: The First World War â€" Myths and Realities (2001 â€" to be republished as an e-book in 2014); Douglas Haig: War Diaries and Letters 1914-18 (2005,co-editor with John Bourne) and The Chief: Douglas Haig and the British Army (2011), which was short-listed for the 2012 Duke of Westminsterâ€™s Medal for Military Literature. He shared the 2003 Templer Medal for his contribution to David French and Brian Holden Reid (eds.) The British General Staff: Innovation and Reform (2002). His most recent book is Command and Morale: The British Army on the Western Front 1914-1918 (2014). A Short History of the First World War will be published in September 2014.