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In Guns at the Abyss, author John Sammon tears into the ugly side of aristocratic politics to expose the motivations for German Empire building and the narcissistic origins of World War I.
More than seventeen million people died during the Great War. And for reasons attributable to the decision-making of powerful European monarchs. Indeed, royal family ties in multiple countries infused diplomatic alliances with added rivalry and suspicion.
The author utilizes this historic backdrop to revisit and to dramatize the hopeless chain of events that led to World War I, starting with a reenactment of the 1914, Serbian-led assassination of Archduke Franz Joseph Ferdinand of Austria during a visit by the would-be king and his wife to strategically important Bosnia.
Carrier of the torch for complete retribution, German Kaiser Wilhelm II leverages public outrage and the dispute with Serbia to launch an expansionist military strategy throughout continental Europe, the Balkans, and beyond. Perhaps more purposeful than coincidental, the timing of Wilhelm’s temperamental, warmongering ambition coincides with a toehold gain of political democracy in Germany, a threat to the very existence of monarchal rule.
It is at this critical geographic and political crossroad that the author brings history back to life to question the moralism of centralized power.
Guns at the Abyss is a novelistic political stage show replete with a realistic cast of government bureaucrats, dignitaries, military leaders and soldiers, patriots and radicals, actual city and street names, parks and buildings, true-to-life details of period dress, decoration, pomp, charm, period viewpoint, sexuality, and voyeurism. The dialogue and other human interaction are calculated to fit the portrayal of an era when manners and social behavior dictated allegiance to custom, position, and patriotism.
In defiance of these classic restraints, Mr. Sammon delivers two emotionally confused central characters as perfect test subjects to probe the elasticity of political change. In an attraction of opposites, young activist Rosa Liber and establishment bureaucrat Ernst Frieslaven come together to engage in fantasy, sexuality, and reactive political behavior. Similarly yet differently, the lovers desperately seek personal gratification in the doing of right or undoing of wrong.
Sammon’s soulful searching drama provides an enlightening reckoning on the hollowed abyss of humanity from unchecked power, exploitation, and war.