The Trigger, by Tim Butcher (Chatto & Windus, RRP $40):
Most people know that it was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo that eventually triggered the beginning of World War I, but the story of the man who fired that opening shot is not so well known.
Although the actions of the teenage assassin Gavrilo Princip had a massive impact on the world, books and movies about the war rarely tell us anything about him.
The assassination of Franz Ferdinand and his wife on that summer morning in the Austro-Hungarian province of Bosnia and Herzegovina was an act of violence that changed the course of history for the entire world, and this book fills in the gaps in our knowledge of this 19-year-old member of Young Bosnia and one of a group of assassins organised and armed by the Black Hand, a secret military society formed on 9 May 1911 by officers in the Army of the Kingdom of Serbia.
Princip was born into poverty but his life changed when he trekked through Bosnia and Serbia to attend school. While we think of the radicalisation of young people as a modern-day problem, historians know that isn’t necessarily the case, and as Princip learned about faith, nationalism and empire, radicalisation slowly changed him from a farm boy to history’s most influential assassin.
This book takes us on the journey with him, giving an insight into both Princip himself and the places that shaped who he became.
It’s a fascinating read that adds another layer to our more recent history.