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A Day With Spencer Jones: Delving Deep into WWI History

Join WWI expert Dr. Spencer Jones and other history lovers for a virtual class on WWI as you study its causes, battles, key players and impact with two engaging lectures and discussion.
Program No. 24174RJ
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At a Glance

July 28, 1914 ended with a bang as a single shot echoed through the streets of Sarajevo and rippled across the entire globe. The assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, became the powerful catalyst that sparked “the war to end all wars” and began the four-year-long fight for political and geographical power. During a morning and afternoon session, join Dr. Spencer Jones for an in-depth look into the causes of WWI, the delicate web of alliances, the intense battles and important aftermath, and learn about the war’s impact on the modern world.
Activity Level
Easy Going
Your online program will be between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. (ET) with a 1-hour break for lunch between the morning and afternoon sessions.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Take a historic dive into WWI with Dr. Jones, a senior lecturer in armed forces and war studies at the University of Wolverhampton, the current regimental historian of the Royal Regiment of Artillery and an award-winning author.
  • Gain unique insight into The Great War during two enriching lectures (morning and afternoon) on the intricacies of WWI from start to finish.
  • Finish the day with an intimate question and answer session with Dr. Jones.

General Notes

The morning presentation is available to a large audience, while the afternoon private presentation and discussion is limited to only 24 participants.
Featured Expert
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Spencer Jones
Dr. Spencer Jones is a senior lecturer in armed forces and war studies at the University of Wolverhampton. He currently serves as regimental historian of the Royal Regiment of Artillery. His interest in history focuses on the British Army, the Boer War and the First World War. He is the author of several books, including “From Boer War to World War: Tactical Reform of the British Army 1902-1914” and “Stemming the Tide: Officers and Leadership in the British Expeditionary Force 1914.”

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

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Spencer Jones
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Stemming the Tide: Officers and Leadership in the British Expeditionary Force 1914
by Spencer Jones
The British Expeditionary Force of 1914 was described by the official historian as "incomparably the best trained, best organized, and best equipped British Army that ever went forth to war." The BEF proved its fighting qualities in the fierce battles of 1914 and its reputation has endured. However, the same cannot be said for many of its commanders, who have frequently been portrayed as old fashioned, incompetent, and out of touch with events on the battlefield. Yet the officers who led the BEF to war were every bit as professional and hard-bitten as the soldiers they commanded. This collection offers a broad picture of command at all levels of the BEF through a series of biographical essays on key officers. Drawing upon much original research, each chapter explores the pre-war background and experience of the officer and assesses his performance in combat in the opening months of the First World War.
The Great Retreat of 1914: From Mons to the Marne
by Spencer Jones
In the sweltering heat of August 1914, the fate of Europe hangs in the balance. Germany is hurling her forces into a carefully planned invasion of Belgium and France. Bound by an 1839 treaty to protect Belgium from any invader, Britain came to its defense. With the British Expeditionary Force numbering just 120,000 men, and dwarfed by the vast manpower of Germany, Kaiser Wilhelm II remains unfazed by this ‘contemptible little army’. But the BEF was, man for man, the best trained army in Europe. Within days of the BEF’s deployment, the full weight of the German invasion crashed into the thin British line. Faced with overwhelming enemy numbers, and battling alongside unreliable French allies, the BEF was forced into The Great Retreat. ‘The Great Retreat’ is the story of this desperate battle for survival. Military historian Spencer Jones recounts this controversial event in a nuanced, detailed short book.
The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914
by Christoper Clark
The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 is historian Christopher Clark’s riveting account of the explosive beginnings of World War I. Drawing on new scholarship, Clark offers a fresh look at World War I, tracing the paths to war in a minute-by-minute, action-packed narrative that cuts between the key decision centers in and examines the decades of history that informed the events of 1914 and details the mutual misunderstandings and unintended signals that drove the crisis forward in a few short weeks.
The War that Ended Peace: How Europe Abandoned Peace for the First World War
by Margaret MacMillan
From the bestselling and award-winning author, Margaret MacMillan, comes a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction, a fascinating portrait of Europe from 1900 up to the outbreak of World War I. The century since the end of the Napoleonic wars had been the most peaceful era Europe had known since the fall of the Roman Empire. In the first years of the twentieth century, Europe believed it was marching to a golden, happy, and prosperous future. But instead, complex personalities and rivalries, colonialism and ethnic nationalisms, and shifting alliances helped to bring about the failure of the long peace and the outbreak of a war that transformed Europe and the world.
The Guns of August
by Barbara Tuchman
In this landmark, Pulitzer Prize–winning account, renowned historian Barbara W. Tuchman re-creates the first month of World War I: thirty days in the summer of 1914 that determined the course of the conflict, the century, and ultimately our present world. Beginning with the funeral of Edward VII, Tuchman traces each step that led to the inevitable clash. And inevitable it was, with all sides plotting their war for a generation. Dizzyingly comprehensive and spectacularly portrayed with her famous talent for evoking the characters of the war’s key players, Tuchman’s magnum opus is a classic for the ages.
August 1914
by Bruno Cabanes
On August 1, 1914, war erupted into the lives of millions of families across France. Most people thought the conflict would last just a few weeks. Yet before the month was out, twenty-seven thousand French soldiers died on the single day of August 22 alone—the worst catastrophe in French military history. Bruno Cabanes renders an intimate, narrative-driven study of the first weeks of World War I in France. Told from the perspective of ordinary women and men caught in the flood of mobilization, this revealing book deepens our understanding of the traumatic impact of war on soldiers and civilians alike.
Dance of the Furies: Europe and the Outbreak of World War I
by Michael S. Neiberg
The common explanation for the outbreak of World War I depicts Europe as a minefield of nationalism, needing only the slightest pressure to set off an explosion of passion that would rip the continent apart. But in a crucial reexamination of the outbreak of violence, Michael S. Neiberg shows that ordinary Europeans, unlike their political and military leaders, neither wanted nor expected war during the fateful summer of 1914. By training his eye on the ways that people outside the halls of power reacted to the rapid onset and escalation of the fighting, Neiberg dispels the notion that Europeans were rabid nationalists intent on mass slaughter. He reveals instead a complex set of allegiances that cut across national boundaries.
July Crisis: The World's Descent into War, Summer 1914
by Thomas Otte
This is a magisterial new account of Europe's tragic descent into a largely inadvertent war in the summer of 1914. Thomas Otte reveals why a century-old system of Great Power politics collapsed so disastrously in the weeks from the 'shot heard around the world' on June 28th to Germany's declaration of war on Russia on August 1st. He shows definitively that the key to understanding how and why Europe descended into world war is to be found in the near-collective failure of statecraft by the rulers of Europe and not in abstract concepts such as the 'balance of power' or the 'alliance system'. In this unprecedented panorama of Europe on the brink, from the ministerial palaces of Berlin and Vienna to Belgrade, London, Paris and St Petersburg, Thomas Otte reveals the hawks and doves whose decision-making led to a war that would define a century and which still reverberates today.
The Marne 1914
by Holger H. Hewig
For the first time in a generation, here is a bold new account of the Battle of the Marne, a cataclysmic encounter that prevented a quick German victory in World War I and changed the course of two wars and the world. With exclusive information based on newly unearthed documents, Holger H. Herwig re-creates the dramatic battle and reinterprets Germany’s aggressive “Schlieffen Plan” as a carefully crafted design to avoid a protracted war against superior coalitions. He paints a fresh portrait of the run-up to the Marne and puts in dazzling relief the Battle of the Marne itself: the French resolve to win, and the crucial lack of coordination between Germany’s First and Second Armies. Herwig also provides stunning cameos of all the important players, from Germany’s Chief of General Staff Helmuth von Moltke to his rival, France’s Joseph Joffre. Revelatory and riveting, this is the source on this seminal event.

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