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About the book
  • Published: 1 May 2014
  • ISBN: 9781448155644
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 352

The Trigger

Hunting the Assassin Who Brought the World to War




A trek through the Balkans, an exploration of the life of an assassin (the teenager who killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand and so triggered the First World War), and a journey into the history of this complex and fascinating part of the world...

‘The most original of First World War centenary books; it is a travel narrative of rare resonance and insight’ Sunday Times
On a summer morning in 1914, a teenage assassin fired the starting gun for modern history.

It was a young teenage boy named Gavrilo Princip who fired that fateful shot which killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo and ultimately ignited World War War. A hundred years later, Tim Butcher undertakes an extraordinary journey to uncover the story of this unknown boy who changed our world forever. By retracing Princip’s journey from his highland birthplace, through the mythical valleys of Bosnia to the fortress city of Belgrade and ultimately Sarajevo, he illuminates our understanding both of Princip and the places that shaped him while uncovering details about Princip which have eluded historians for more than a century.

‘A masterpiece of historical empathy and evocation...This book is a tour de force’ Guardian

  • Pub date: 1 May 2014
  • ISBN: 9781448155644
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 352

About the Author

Tim Butcher

Tim Butcher is a best-selling author who blends travel with history. His first book, Blood River, was a number one bestseller, a Richard & Judy Book Club selection and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize, while his next, Chasing the Devil, was longlisted for the George Orwell Prize. A journalist with the Daily Telegraph from 1990 to 2009, in 2010 he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Northampton for services to writing. Born in Great Britain, he is based in Cape Town with his family.

Also by Tim Butcher

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Praise for The Trigger

“The most original of First World War centenary books; it is a travel narrative of rare resonance and insight”

Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times

“Superb... Highly readable but profoundly researched”

Ben Macintyre, The Times, Books of the Year

“A triumph… A marvellously absorbing book on the nature of one man’s political grievance and its terrible aftermath”

Ian Thomson, Observer Books of the Year

“The most imaginative and singular book on the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War to date... This is expeditionary journalism at its best – a historical inquest radiated through the mind and experience of an outstanding reporter”

Robert Fox, Evening Standard

“A masterpiece of historical empathy and evocation... This book is a tour de force”

Christopher Clark, Guardian

“A fascinating study of one of those rare individuals whose act of violence changed the history of the world. An incisive, shrewd, wholly compelling investigation of an assassin’s life and times”

William Boyd

“A fabulous book that all First World War historians will now have to take account of… Superb”

Saul David

“A splendid book. It takes its place among classics of Balkan history”

Norman Stone

“Tim Butcher goes from strength to strength. I enjoyed every paragraph”

Dervla Murphy

“Insightful, useful and delightfully written… A great book – one to be recommended to professional and amateur historian alike”

General Sir David Richards, former Chief of the Defence Staff

“Lucid, passionate, urgent”

Rory MacLean

“This is first class history and in a year swamped with First World War centenary books, it’s the one you should read first”

Andrew Roberts

“A compelling and fascinating read...a shadowy assassin brought to life by an writer who gets to grips with a century of Balkan intrigue”

Kate Adie

“A marvellously absorbing book... A triumph of research, it will appeal to the layman and historian alike”

Ian Thomson, Financial Times

“Extremely well written, taut and evocative... Despite its complex subject, Butcher makes this an easy and engaging read with his breezy style and fascinating encounters”

Misha Glenny, Daily Telegraph

“Illuminating... Butcher achieves something remarkable with Princip. He promotes him quite plausibly from mad man to everyman; a warning to the future whom the future foolishly forgot”

Giles Whittell, The Times

“Arguably the most important story of the war”

Michael Hodges, Mail on Sunday

“As a travel writer, Butcher takes some beating. He packs balls as well as ballpoints”

John Lewis-Stempel, Sunday Express

“A triumph of storytelling... [A] highly original gem of a book”

Victor Sebestyen, Spectator

“Informative and powerful”

John Horne, Irish Times

“A page-turning exploration of how the forgotten past continues to inform the present... Important, and relevant”

Oliver Poole, Independent on Sunday

“[Princip’s] story as Butcher now tells it has a resonance far beyond the Balkans”

Iain Morris, Observer

“Elegant, horrifying and enlightening… A book which is not only a good piece of detective work, it is the finest contribution so far this year to the rapidly expanding literature on the Great War”

Mark Smith, Herald

“Tim Butcher has produced the most imaginative and singular book on the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War to date. It is a lot more than a study of Princip… It is a piece of expeditionary journalism, an investigation in time, place and spirit, of the highest order”

Robert Fox, Scotsman

“A revealing insight into the mind and journey of the boy who escaped the narrow confines of his village, and whose political aspirations for his native country had such far-reaching effects on the world”

Philippa Logan, Oxford Times

“Utterly absorbing… If journalism is the first draft of history, Butcher marries both disciplines with boldness and originality – as well as sympathy for his shadowy subject”

BBC History Magazine

“Insightful and entertaining, this blows the cobwebs off the history of that day”

Evening Echo (Cork)

“Positive proof that fact can be as gripping as fiction…rich and timely… Amongst so many books published around the anniversary of the First World War, this one stands out”

CGA Magazine

“A fascinating investigation… An absorbing read”

Irish Independent

“Despite its serious subject matter, the book is a rollicking read, full of amusing details and sarcastic humour”

The Economist

“A brilliant and haunting journey through the Balkans”

Sinclair McKay, Daily Telegraph

“In the centenary year of the death of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, what better read than Tim Butcher’s The Trigger”

Paul Routledge, Tablet

“[A] fascinating and lively history”

4 stars, Daily Telegraph

“Very complex – but you will grasp it”

William Leith, Evening Standard

“A fascination exploration”

Mail on Sunday

“Highly readable but profoundly researched, The Trigger represents a bold exception to the deluge of First World War books devoted to mud, blood and poetry”

Ben Macintyre, The Times

“a fascinating original portrait of a man and his country”

Country and Town House


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