Among the results of the Great War have been the opening of the archives of Berlin, Vienna and Petrograd, and the appearance of innumerable autobiographies, recording and explaining the part played by rulers and ministers, diplomats, soldiers and sailors in the generation preceding the outbreak of the struggle or during the course of the conflict. Though much of this literature is highly controversial and requires to be used with caution, sufficient material has accumulated to justify an attempt to reconstruct the main outlines of European history from the Congress of Berlin to the Treaty of Versailles. Professor Pribram's "Secret Treaties of Austria-Hungary," and the Livres Jaunes on the Franco-Russian Alliance and the Entente with Italy, reveal the obligations and transformations of the diplomatic groups into which the Great Powers were divided. Republican Germany has set an example to her victors by ordering the publication of the most important dispatches and memoranda in the archives of the Foreign Office from 1871 to 1914, of which the first six volumes bring the story down to the fall of Bismarck. The Bolshevists, again, in their campaign against the old regime and the old diplomacy, have revealed a mass of dispatches and telegrams, treaties and protocols, which enable us to measure the ambitions of the last of the Romanoffs.
It is impossible within the limits of a single volume to do justice to a period crowded with events, fermenting with new ideas, and enriched by the triumphs of invention and discovery. The theme of this book is the relations of the Great Powers of Europe to one another.