If you like your histories factual and documented, then Barbara Tuchman's "The Guns of August" is the book for you. Tuchman details the politics and the miltary planning that brought the world to the war to end all wars, and hundreds of thousands of young men to their deaths.
All the main players are covered: Germany, France, England, and Russia. The main catalyst of the war, the assassination of Austrian archduke Ferdinand by a Serbian nationalist, is only briefly mentioned, however a thorough explanation of how that event led all of Europe to take up arms follows. As the title states, this book covers only the first month of World War I, August of 1914 (although a few days in September are mentioned for continuity sake.) I was astonished to find out just how close Germany came to winning the war in that first month, if not for a few missteps and some luck on the Allies part.
All in all, a top notch history of the start to WWI. Barbara Tuchman won a Pulitzer Prize in 1962 for her extraordinary effort writing this novel. I chose this book because I didn't know very much about World War I, especially how it started, but this book surely changed that. I would bet that even the most avid history buff would acquire some additional knowledge from reading this novel. If you are interested in history, especially WWI, then I whole-heartedly recommend "The Guns of August" by Barbara W. Tuchman.
The amount of detail is staggering and the reader really brings everything to life. I felt like I needed to take notes to keep up at some points, but I definitely recommend this one.
This book is probably a great read, but it very difficult to get much out of it by listening to it - at least it was for me.
The only reason I wasn't entirely lost with the multitudes of names, locations and events is I know the history relatively well. Regardless I continually found myself lost and daydreaming.
I'd definitely recommend reading this book, but listening to it is tough.
This is a great account of August 1914! I was not familiar all the various French and Belgium city names, generals on both sides or the politicians so I found some parts too hard to follow via audio. I feel it would have been more interesting to follow the advancement of troops and outcome of battles with a map handy and a list of Generals for each side. I had to give up trying to understand some of the troop movements and where the fighting was. It just washed over me and I left the vague understanding which side it benefited. The narrator was fabulous and great to listen to but I would highly recommend getting a map!
This book has been on my "to read" list for many years and I wish I would have read it earlier. It is an essential work to understanding WWI, and in particular the opening moves by all belligerents that led to the following 4 years of bloodshed.
Even more important, however, is how the book illustrates the massive egos and ambitions of the elites in society that ultimately led millions to their ultimate demise. For this alone, the book is a "must read", so that we may go into the future better armed with the knowledge of the potential weaknesses of the ruling classes.
The author did a fantastic job of piecing together the myriad facets of the start of WWI. She did so in a well paced and interesting manner. This is something that not many could have done with such apparent ease. The narrator, did a superb job in reading the story, but i felt she could have picked up the pace slightly so as to work through the massive story more quickly. This, however, is minor criticism.
I can highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in WWI or an interest in how the nature of the ruling elites can lead to disaster.
Very well done book. I enjoyed hearing the details of how the German army planned so meticulously how they would attack France. The best laid plans can fail. Good read. I highly recommend it.
I listened to this with expectations for it to be similar to "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich". But with such a narrow scope (literally only the month of August 1914) the story is bogged down in more details than what I was looking for as a casual listening experience. That being said, the narrator does an excellent job of speaking in accents from the parties at play, which is especially helpful as there are so many names to keep track of.
This should be required reading for students enrolled in AP World History, a college level world history course, or anyone interested in a well-structured history of the period. Brilliant, easy to listen to and understand, and thorough in its presentation of the subject matter. The book provides a remarkably personal look into the personalities and decisions that shaped the period leading up to, and ultimately determining the outcome of, the war.