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Nothing Less Than WarNothing Less Than War

A New History of America's Entry into World War I

Justus D. Doenecke

Narrated by Tom Lennon

Available from Audible

Book published by University Press of Kentucky

When war broke out in Europe in 1914, political leaders in the United States were swayed by popular opinion to remain neutral; yet less than three years later, the nation declared war on Germany. In Nothing Less Than War: A New History of America’s Entry into World War I, Justus D. Doenecke examines the clash of opinions over the war during this transformative period and offers a fresh perspective on America’s decision to enter World War I.

Doenecke reappraises the public and private diplomacy of President Woodrow Wilson and his closest advisors and explores in great depth the response of Congress to the war. He also investigates the debates that raged in the popular media and among citizen groups that sprang up across the country as the U.S. economy was threatened by European blockades and as Americans died on ships sunk by German U-boats.

The decision to engage in battle ultimately belonged to Wilson, but as Doenecke demonstrates, Wilson’s choice was not made in isolation. Nothing Less Than War provides a comprehensive examination of America’s internal political climate and its changing international role during the seminal period of 1914–1917.

Justus D. Doenecke is professor emeritus of history at New College of Florida and the author of ten books. His book, Storm on the Horizon: The Challenge to American Intervention, 1939–1941, won the 2001 Herbert Hoover Presidential Library Award for the best book on any topic in American history from 1914 to 1964.


“Doenecke paints intriguing portraits of leading figures, many now obscure, including Franklin Delano and Theodore Roosevelt and William Jennings Bryan, plus the rich stew of newspapers, magazines, organizations, diplomats, and propagandists who fought over this issue.”

Publisher Weekly

“Doenecke delivers a vivid, opinionated and surprisingly recognizable account of American public affairs a century ago.... This is an excellent history. ”

Military History

“Doenecke leads readers through the pitfalls of the political landscape—the pros and cons of intervention, the Wilsonian effort at neutrality, and the issues that ultimately led to the US entry into WWI.”


“Doenecke has produced what should become the standard on the United States’ entry into World War I, transforming her from a great continetal power into a greater world power. This is a highly readable account filled with fascinating portraits of the luminaries of the day.”

The Past in Review

“Skillyfully traces the intricate policy decisions and machinations of Wilson and his inner cadre. ”

Military Review

“Doenecke doubtless portrays accurately how the American public regarded the European conflict before 1917. ”

Journal of American History

“Doenecke’s account is well-argued, well-researched, and well-written... [it] is a fine addition to the ongoing discussion of the First World War.”

Diplomatic History

Nothing Less Than War combines careful attention to diplomacy with an excellent consideration of politics and public opinion. It is superb in detail, and even scholars well versed in the field will learn things they didn’t know before.”

—John Milton Cooper Jr., author of Woodrow Wilson: A Biography

“Justus Doenecke’s impressive new study of President Woodrow Wilson’s attempt to keep the United States out of the Great War by maintaining American neutrality from 1914 to 1917 is a substantial contribution to historical scholarship. It offers three major
contributions: first, an excellent depiction of public opinion during these years as expressed by the press and by leaders in Congress and various national organizations; second, a comprehensive review of historical scholarship, which is integrated into the narrative throughout the chapters; and third, a clear assessment of Wilson’s leadership within this framework. ”

—Lloyd Ambrosius, author of Wilsonianism: Woodrow Wilson and His Legacy in American Foreign Relations

Nothing Less Than War is a thoughtful look at America’s entry into World War I. Based on impressive research, it carries the reader back to a very different time, reassesses the wide-ranging debate over the war in Europe, and provides a stimulating re-examination of the strengths and weaknesses of Woodrow Wilson’s leadership.”

—Charles Neu

“Justus Doenecke has written a model of judicious scholarship. Historians and nonhistorians alike will profit from reading his informed and insightful account of a pivotal period in American diplomatic history.”

—George Nash, author of of the The Life of Herbert Hoover: The Humanitarian, 1914-1917

“Justus Doenecke has written a fine, authoritative study of America’s flawed struggle for neutrality in the First World War—and the first comprehensive re-examination of the subject in more than a generation.”

—Thomas Knock, author of To End All Wars: Woodrow Wilson and the Quest for a New World Order

“Thorough, thoughtful, pointed, and wise, this sprightly, sometimes wry account covers familiar material with fresh insight and commendably a sense of irony. A splendid read for anyone with an interest in Wilson and the war.”

—Mark Gilderhus, author of Pan American Visions: Woodrow Wilson and the Western Hemisphere, 1913-1921 — Mark Gilderhus, author of Pan American Visions: Woodrow Wilson and the Western Hemisphere, 19

“The entry of the United States into World War I is a very complicated event because of its extraordinarily multiple origins, because of the enormous and overwhelming mass of propaganda enveloping it, and because of the strange character of President Wilson. Professor Doenecke’s acquaintance and understanding of these difficult events and circumstances is long-standing, and his present reconstruction and narrative of what led to April 1917 is very valuable.”

—John Lukacs, author of The Legacy of the Second World War

“Doenecke untangles and clarifies the national debate in great detail in this dense, well-documented study. It will be of great use to serious students and researchers of the Great War. ”

Library Journal

“Long a highly influential author on Americans’ entry into the Second World War, Doenecke has now produced a superb, beautifully researched, and carefully argued account that should become a standard on the United States entering into World War I — a historical dividing line marking the transformation of America from a great continental power into the greatest of world powers. There is here a galaxy of fascinating characters, but at the center is President Woodrow Wilson, who has now become perhaps the most controversial leader in the nation’s history. Quoting often from the leading writers of the past eighty years who have shaped our views of 1914-1917, Doenecke has simply subsumed them in an inclusive account that deserves a wide audience, including college classes. ”

—Walter LaFeber, author of The American Age: U.S. Foreign Policy at Home and Abroad since 1750

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University Press Audiobooks