November Books - 4
My favorite popular history of the origins of WW I is Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August. She introduces the political figures whose mistakes and machinations led to the situation that made war almost inevitable. She outlines the political and economic situation in each of the major countries of Europe, and shows how, slowly and inexorably, the situation deteriorated.
Also of great interest is Tuchman's The Proud Tower, which is a history of Europe from 1881 to 1914, and which goes into much more detail about the world in the 30 years before the war than does The Guns of August. I have recently re-read The Proud Tower and it's just as fascinating as it was the first time I read it.