Overall: a great way to learn some basics about WWI from a certain narrow perspective. I'm generally interested in broader social aspects of history but this is great for what it is.
Content: This is about the dozen or so generals and heads of state who got the world into WWI and all the messes that followed. Given that, I felt that there was surprisingly little about the Austrian Kaiser and what led to the decision to invade Serbia after the assassination of Franz Ferdinand. This was the key decision that started the cascade but we don't really get to know Franz Josef and his entourage or hear anything about the world trying to get him to take back his move. I don't usually think of history this way, but if that is what the book is about then it seems like this would be the key plot point but it's more of a footnote. ???
One reviewer said it was anti-German. I'm not sure how. All the leaders come off as lunatics willing to kill hundreds of thousands of soldiers (including their own) for nothing. Under the Kaiser's orders, the German army did invade neutral Belgium and commit atrocities there against civilians.
Narrator: WIth regards to the previous reviews I have to agree that doing foreign voices in English with a funny accent is silly, but a common Hollywood device. The pronunciation of foreign names was was excellent compared with most Audible narrators. Overall, I thought she did a very good job.
If you want a lengthy account of the month of August 1914 from an Anglo-Saxon point of view, this book is for you.
While a lot of sources are cited, this is more of a narrative than a scientific account. It tells a good, if somewhat one-sided story. In this sense, the book feels a bit outdated as the last years of thinking about WWI are not reflected. In language and content, it is still in the tradition of the WWII generation, meaning more anti-German in spirit, language and interpretation of events than recent historians. If you don't mind this and you want to be entertained by history in a detailed account, this is a good (audio-)book.
About the audio: The narrative is likeably and I feel the speaker matches the writers style. Unfortunately the pronunciation of French and German is poor and where foreign accents in English are emulated from supposedly native Russian, German and French speakers it becomes simply annoying. Somebody who obviously does not speak these languages simply cannot bring across the accents properly (especially to someone like myself who is not a native speaker of English). It would have been a much better – if more costly – choice to have these parts spoken by foreign (and male) speakers to contrast narrative and citation.
Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.
While it describes only the events of the first month of WWI, it does so in such great detail and with such clarity and vividness that it is quite understandable why The Guns of August received the Pulitzer Prize and is considered a classic in the military history of WWI. It provides a history of the plans, strategies, world events, and international sentiments prior to and during the war. As Stephen Pinker so brilliantly summarizes, “The carnage was stupefying; 8.5M deaths in combat and perhaps 15M deaths overall in just 4yrs. Romantic militarism by itself cannot explain the orgy of slaughter... the war was a perfect storm of destructive currents brought suddenly together by the iron dice of Mars. An ideological background of militarism and nationalism a sudden contest of honor that threatened the credibility of each of the great powers; a Hobbesian trap that frightened leaders into attacking before they were attached first and overconfidence that deluded each of them into thinking that victory would come swiftly... military machines that could deliver massive quantities of men to a front that could mow them down as quickly as they arrived... a game of attrition that locked the two sides into seeking exponentially greater costs into a ruinous situation; all set off by a Serbian nationalist who had a lucky day.” These are all brilliantly dissected, elucidated and offered by Barbara Tuchman for our close examination. The traps, miscalculations and mistakes are all there. More examples of the follies of war.
I read TGoA because I was interested in knowing more about WWI. The book did not disappoint because in fact I was more interested in the beginning of the war, its participants and cause(s). TGoA is not an exhaustive military analysis of the entire war; again, it really only considers the first month in detail. For those such as I, it is sufficient. For those interested in the four years following, it’s a great introduction, one probably without equal.
The writer is evidently very knowledgeable. It's a great indepth lesson but with too many unexplained and uninterpreted French quotes/references and terms that left huge gaps in my understanding. The aristocratic French accent pronounciations heightened the frustration. It was like screaming English to make a foreigner understand. Further, brief but unexplained references to historical events left me continuously stopping to google for information as to what the event was and why the writer had proclaimed it as having impact on the story. Probably a better read for a French speaking historian than just an interested novice.
Novelist and screenwriter; formerly BBC reporter and interviewer. TV and Film scripts include Mists of Avalon, Legends of Earthsea,The Borrowers,Small Soldiers, War and Peace, Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, Dunkirk.
A fascinating account of how world war one began. funny, appalling, extraordinary stories of the men and women who brought the world to Armageddon. And very well read.
I couldn't listen to this when I first downloaded it. Did not appreciate the narration.
But after a couple of years I gave it another try and found it gripping. I became accustomed
to the narration. The timing and pace of it was perfect. I now understand
why the Guns of August is considered a classic.
Some friends dislike Tuchman's writing, too crammed with facts. I like the full context she paints and am not too anxious to get to the punchline. She does pick people as good and bad at what the do, but in times of war, our strengths and faults are accentuated. Her doing so makes a good story and probably she is usually right. This book certainly explains how a month determined much of what the 20th century became. It would be interesting to read a german's account of this time.
Though I had read other books on WWI, I hadn't read this classic. It gave me a much better understanding of the moves in early WWI and the mindsets behind them. I feel I know the war much better than I had. The book was interesting, with a good feel for characters.
This is the classic introduction to World War One. It goes over the ramp-up to the war fairly lightly, though the characterizations of the main people, such as the Kaiser, the Kings of England, the Tsar, and the Emperor as well as the diplomats and generals are vivid.
The narration of the first month of the war is outstanding. Tuchman is a superb writer and the book has a wonderful literary quality. Her turns of phrase are amazing and add to the page-turning quality.
I found Nadia May to be a very good narrator. Occasionally her efforts to affect the accents of the individuals whom she is quoting to be clumsy, but I liked her voice and her general style. I often like to listen at 1.25 or 1.5 speed but her narration did not permit this. Nevertheless it was a pleasure to listen at regular speed.
Critics claim that Tuchman takes some liberties with facts, some of which were known at the time of her writing and others to be discovered only in more recent years. Perhaps that is true but for me it is something that remains to be seen as I make my way through all the Audible books currently available about World War One.
In the mean time, no one should hesitate to listen to this one.