The books behind the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand—and the men who read them.

It would be absurd to think a small library of books could incite young men to homicide, persuade them to accept the idea of suicide, or even precipitate a catastrophic European war. Nevertheless a small library that made the rounds of the Young Bosnians as they prepared for the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary in June 1914 suggested at the time, and later, that their reading influenced the course of events in that fateful year. The selection was small: the titles in question could have been loaded into a backpack and read on a summer hike by any or several of the plotters. They had an appetite for books and uncompromising attitudes towards them; over a game of billiards, the mladobosanci—some of them pan-Slavs, some ultra-Serbian—would talk incessantly about what they had read and, if they disagreed, the argument was usually settled with the rough and ready use of billiard cues.

Selvedin Avdić: A Great War Library


Gavrilo Princip


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