Skip navigation

Tag Archives: Douglas Newton





“A compellingly written, tightly argued, deeply researched and bracingly revisionist study.”– Christopher Clark, author of The Sleepwalkers

“If you want to understand how a Liberal cabinet decided to take Britain to war two days before the German invasion of Belgium, over the protests of a considerable peace movement, read Douglas Newton’s eloquent The Darkest Days: The Truth Behind Britain’s Rush to War, 1914.” – The Independent



AUGUST 4th event: On the centenary of Britain’s declaration of war, Douglas Newton Christopher Clark discuss THE DARKEST DAYS at the London Review Bookshop

As the world commemorates the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War historian Douglas Newton recounts the hidden history of Britain’s decision to enter the conflict. Drawing on a wealth of archival material, including the private papers and correspondence of leading politicians of the time, Newton pays particular attention to the widespread and vehement opposition to the war, both inside parliament and in the country at large, and reveals how Asquith, Edward Grey and Winston Churchill colluded, against the wishes and instincts of many of their parliamentary colleagues, to bring the country into the war, by any means necessary. Douglas Newton will be in conversation with Christopher Clark, author of The Sleepwalkers, one of the most lucid recent accounts of the outbreak of the First World War.

7pm / £10 – for more information and to book tickets:


THE DARKEST DAYS shows how the war-hungry leaders and the right-wing press hustled the nation into war, making only the barest efforts to save the peace. As a result the declaration was the result of political negotiation, dishonesty and willful belligerence that split the cabinet and kept the opposition and the nation itself in the dark until it was too late.

Through a forensic study of the personal papers of many of the key figures on both sides of the debate, historian DOUGLAS NEWTON pieces together what really went on in the frenetic weeks between the assassination in Sarajevo and Britain’s declaration of war upon Germany on Tuesday 4 August 1914.

Many recently published histories of Britain’s Great War embrace the conflict as a good war—irresistible, righteous—and popular. It has become almost heretical to offer criticism of Britain’s intervention. This book presents a new critical examination of the government’s choice for war, and weaves into the story an account of those “radicals” and other activists who urged neutral diplomacy in 1914.


DOUGLAS NEWTON was the Associate Professor of History at University of Western Sydney. He is the author of British Policy and the Weimar Republic 1918–19; Germany 1918-1945: From Days of Hope to Years of Horror; and British Labour, European Socialism and the Struggle for Peace 1889–1914. He lives in Australia.


“Should Britain have entered the war in 1914? This question has recently aroused controversy. As Douglas Newton shows, it was controversial in 1914, too. This book is a compellingly written, tightly argued, deeply researched and bracingly revisionist study of the decisions that led to British intervention. Newton uproots many hardy myths and reveals the deep divisions within the political elite of a country on the brink of war.”
– Christopher Clark, author of The Sleepwalkers

“Sound and informative.”
– Keith Robbins in praise of British Labour, European Socialism and the Struggle for Peace 1889-1914, Times Literary Supplement

“Newton writes well, and with a feel for the tragedy of the Great War missing in most accounts … the scholarship invested in this work is meticulous.”
– John McDermott, in praise of British Policy and the Weimar Republic 1918-1919, International History Review

“Newton’s history is meticulously researched …”
– Jill Liddington in praise of British Labour, European Socialism and the Struggle for Peace 1889-1914, History Workshop Journal


HARDBACK: JUNE 2014 / 416 pages / ISBN: 9781781683507 / $34.95 / £20 / $41 (Canada)


THE DARKEST DAYS is available at a 30% discount (hardback) on our website, with free shipping and bundled ebook. Purchasing details here:


First published in



‘Human Herbs’ – a song by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon:

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

Glenn Rikowski @ Academia:

Glenn Rikowski @ ResearchGate:

Online Publications at The Flow of Ideas:

The Flow of Ideas: