I cannot imagine finding a more complete history of the begenning of the First World War. Barbara Tuchman brings to people, places, and events to life.
This book was one I got by mistake- what a fortunate mistake!
The telling of the history of the first August of the Great War has truly been educational, interesting and sobering.
I feel I got to know about the personalities as well as the issues the created the situations of war.
I was amazed at how utterly human war is. I would like to think that all applicants to high political office would listen. It might help them recognize the after effects of their positional choices.
This a good history of how the First World War started & how it became a war of attrition. What makes it special is how Tuchman perfectly balances details with the story. The result is a view of Europe over 100 years ago that shows one thing very clearly: no one on any side of this conflict had the foggiest idea what they were getting into. This didn't prevent the leaderships of the belligerents from blindly embracing the assumption that they could easily see the future, & that their inevitable war would be quick & glorious. The technology of the weaponry had made the precious traditions & tactics of the Military Caste obsolete. Years of careful planning had never taken into account how humans tend to be unpredictable.
As usual, the book tracks the actions of those whose names are still vaguely remembered. The ordinary soldiers are mentioned occasionally, as is the case in military histories. However, Tuchman presents the unvarnished truth of the actions of these men & attempts to make a hero out of no one.
This is an important book both because of its subject matter and the role that it played in shaping President Kennedy's thoughts during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The first 3/4 of the book is magnificent and does a great job describing the build-up to the war. The last 1/4 of the book bogs down a little as the author describes in detail much of the troop movements and discussions among generals. This last 1/4 was hard to follow while listening at the same time as doing other things. Still, I recommend the book if for no other reason than listening to the first 3/4 as a great way to understand the beginnings of World War I.
A great classic of WWI history, a vivid portrait of events, leaders and people, never losing the big picture but also with a keen eye for detail.
This book has piqued my interest in a way that no cut & dried history books of school ever did. (Yes, history was actually taught back then.)
Guns of August focuses on the month leading up to and the first month of WWI, an incredibly short bit of time which signaled the end of a political and cultural era, and abruptly thrust the world into the 20th century. Barbara Tuchman's excellent research and fascinating writing earned her a well-deserved Pulitzer prize for this must-read book.
And, unfortunately for me, reading - not listening - is what i'll have to do. I just couldnt finish this recording, owing neither to the writing nor performance, both of which are excellent, but to my own need for visual aids. But never fear! The print edition includes photos of the players and maps depicting the complex battle plans.
Guns of August is simply so rich & compelling that I owe it to myself to finish. I plan to purchase the print edition and simultaneously listen to the recording.
Extraordinarily well-written, and telling only the story of August was a very smart approach. If she covered the entire war in the same detail, the book would be longer than Decline + Fall. But Tuchman realized the first battles really set the stage for the rest of the war and, well, the rest of world history ever since. She does a great job of conveying the personalities of guys like Joffre, Ludendorf and Von Moltke and how well each of them coped with the unprecedented pressure they were under. I have skipped this book many times because I "already know what happened." Maybe I knew the battles but the detailed picture she paints of the old world destroying itself is something you don't get from casualty counts and timelines alone. Even, or especially, people with good knowledge of the Great War will love this book