The Trigger of the First World War – Myth, Muddle and Reality

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A lecture by Tim Butcher, author and former Defence Correspondent, Daily Telegraph.Tim Butcher

On a summer morning in Sarajevo a hundred years ago, a teenage assassin named Gavrilo Princip fired not just the opening shots of the First World War but the starting gun for modern history, when he killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The events Princip triggered were so monumental that his own story has been largely overlooked, his role garbled and motivations misrepresented.

In his lecture, Tim Butcher will share the results of years of research, including the discovery of the Princip papers missed by a century of historians, to tell a gripping story of cause and effect about the assassin who changed all of our lives. He will also discuss the role played by political manipulation and lies in bringing the world to war.

Tim Butcher is a best-selling author who blends travel with history. His first book, Blood River: A Journey to Africa’s Broken Heart (2007), about descending the Congo, was a number one bestseller and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize. His subsequent book, Chasing the Devil: The Search for Africa’s Fighting Spirit (2010), was longlisted for the George Orwell Prize. He served as Defence Correspondent for the Daily Telegraph from 1990 to 2009. Tim received an honorary doctorate from the University of Northampton for services to writing in 2010 and was awarded the 2013 Mungo Park Medal for exploration by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society.

Tim will be on hand to sign copies of his latest book entitled ‘The Trigger: Hunting the Assassin who Brought the World to War’ (Chatto & Windus: 1 May 2014), which will be on sale.

The lecture is followed by a drinks reception from 1900 to 2000.

This event is open to all RUSI members. To become a member, please click here.

To attend this event, please register online using the "Book your place" button above. If you have any queries please contact Sarah Morrison, Members’ Events Co-ordinator, at or call +44 (0)20 7747 2600.

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