World History 1914

About the history of the world in 1914, Edgar Rice Burroughs publishes Tarzan of the Apes, World War I breaks out.



* Edgar Rice Burroughs, 39, a writer of science fiction and adventure stories, published his first novel, Tarzan of the Apes. The yarn--a wildly improbable tale about an infant of English nobility who is abandoned in Africa and is raised by a band of apes--had originally appeared in All-Star Magazine two years earlier and had fetched Burroughs the respectable sum of $700. Although Burroughs had little difficulty finding magazine markets for his numerous sequels, he received a number of rejections before landing a book publisher. Rand McNally, McClurg, Bobbs-Merrill, and Dodd, Mead, among others, said, "Interesting, but not for us." The stack of rejection slips led to bouts of depression and undermined his faith in his writing ability for a time. Still, he kept writing and eventually broke into the higher-paying slick magazines. His big break came with syndication of his Tarzan stories in serial form in newspapers all over the country. The exposure suddenly made Tarzan of the Apes a hot book prospect, and A. C. McClurg and Company outbid the competition. Asked about the inspiration for Tarzan, Burroughs credited his early fondness for the legend of Romulus and Remus, the twin founders of Rome who had been suckled by a she-wolf, and Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Books.

June 28 W.W. I broke out. A 19-year-old Serbian terrorist named Gavrilo Princip assassinated Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife, Sophie, while the couple was riding in a carriage through the streets of Sarajevo in what is now Yugoslavia. The assault sparked a chain of events which upset the fragile balance of power in Europe and which eventually involved over 30 nations and 90% of the world's population in war. The principal belligerents and their reasons for going to war broke down this way:

The Central Powers: Austria-Hungary, to punish Serbia for the assassination and to intimidate the other restless minorities whose recent bids for independence had been threatening the very survival of the Hapsburg Empire; Germany, to back up Austria-Hungary and to deter Russia from rushing to the aid of Serbia; Turkey, to fulfill treaty obligations with Germany.

The Allied Powers: Russia, to prevent the extinction of its Slavic cousins, the Serbs; France, to check German expansion and with thoughts of recapturing provinces lost in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871); Great Britain, to turn back German forces marching on France through supposedly neutral Belgium.

Italy had trouble deciding which side to join, but in 1915 it finally condemned Germany as the aggressor, repudiated its long-standing treaty of mutual assistance with Germany, and rushed to the ranks of the Allies.

Two years later, the U.S. was drawn into the conflict when Berlin refused to honor the neutrality of American ships.

Aug. All the major European powers except Italy were now locked in war. Nearly surrounded by enemies, Germany's only hope for victory lay in the success of the Schlieffen Plan: A token force was to hold off sluggish Russian troops on the east while crack German divisions were to pour across Belgium and take Paris by surprise. With France defeated, German forces would then turn on Russia en masse. Once Russia fell, Great Britain, bereft of allies, would have no choice but to negotiate a peace on German terms. On the drawing board the Schlieffen Plan worked; on the battlefield it did not. The Belgians and French put up more resistance than anticipated, and Russian troops hit Germany so hard on the east that Berlin strategists had to dispatch 100,000 reinforcements to the area. The final blow to the Schlieffen Plan came in September with the Battle of the Marne, when the retreating French army suddenly turned on the German invaders and--aided by 2,000 Parisian taxicabs which had been commandeered to transport 50,000 troops to the front--beat them back. The French victory guaranteed the long war of attrition which the Central Powers were sure to lose. Both sides now dug in along a line from the North Sea to the Swiss border. On this, the western front, the bloody, plodding pace of trench warfare replaced the lightning thrusts and feints of conventional warfare.

Aug. 26-30 German troops rolled over the Russians at Tannenberg.

Oct.--Nov. Great Britain warned that it was laying mines in the North Sea and that all neutral vessels must stop at British ports to receive sailing instructions.

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