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A Wrong Turn Leads to War
A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts

One of the bloodiest wars in human history was caused, at least in part, by a wrong turn. In June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand was visiting Sarajevo. Archduke Ferdinand was the next in line to be the king of Austria-Hungary. But little did he know that he was to be the target of an assassination attempt by a man named Gavrilo Princip. Princip was a Serbian who wanted his people to be free from Austrian rule. He thought that by killing the archduke, he could force Austria to give Serbia its freedom.

Princip and his co-conspirators waited on a crowded street for the archduke to drive by. When the archduke’s car passed, one of them threw a bomb toward it. It rolled under another car and exploded, failing to kill the archduke. His driver sped off, temporarily foiling the assassins.

Princip, disappointed by his failure, went off to a local cafe to sulk. But in a terrible coincidence, the archduke’s car happened to be driving through the same neighborhood. His driver had become lost, and in after taking a wrong turn, he decided to turn the car around and head back in the other direction. The spot he chose to turn was in front of the very cafe where Gavrilo Princip was sitting. Princip saw his opportunity, ran into the street, and shot Archduke Ferdinand through the neck, killing him.

One month later, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. Serbia’s ally, Russia, declared war on Austria-Hungary in response. Soon, the conflict had spread to all of Europe. At the time, it was called the Great War, but today we know it as World War I.


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