I read science, biographies, histories, mysteries, adventures, thrillers, educationals, linguistics but not no way, not no how, romances.
There's a reason this book was considered a living classic when it was published in the 60's and has remained a classic continuously to this day. It is impeccable and quite possibly one of the more perfect books I've ever read. Here we have an unbiased examination of all the people and events that planned for and lead to the start of WWI, the Great War. The first section of the book discusses each influence and who participated and how it affected the overall readiness. It's a wonderfully precise description of an intricate fuse.
Then, a third of the way through the book, Franz Ferdinand dies, and the world is thrust into war. Now we have as precise, as finely tuned a description of the fuse burning and the ultimate explosion. She looked at every aspect of who declared war, what the debate was like, and how they did it. Then she turns her attention again, this time to the fighting, and writes a perfectly paced and description war history, examining all the movements of the first 30 days of combat. At the end, she looks at the world is devastating and analyzes the outcomes in perfectly cogent and arresting prose. It's an amazing accomplishment. If I had a criticism, it is that she spends no time looking at the lighting of the fuse, the assassination of Ferdinand. But she did this because the world was going to go to war, it was just looking for a reason.
This is a great book. Buy it.
Better or not I don't know, but I am extremely grateful to have had this audio edition.
I give it 5 stars only because I prefer to be generous in my ratings. On the whole her reading is excellent, but it is slightly marred by the attempts to give quoted passages a French or German accent (this is a practice I find pointless and irritating, except possibly when a foreigner actually spoke in English and not in his/her own language; here the imitation accents are not too badly done, as Nadia May does at least know French and German rather well). The pronunciation of French and German names are on the whole good (more than one can say for many audiobooks), though occasionally imperfect (for instance, the final 's' in Jaurès is not silent, and Lanrezac should not sound as if it were written 'Lanrézac'). In general, foreign names represent one of the greatest problems with audiobooks: we cannot see how they are written, and often they are incomprehensible if we don't know the name or the corresponding language. I repeat here my suggestion of having a pdf supplement; another possibility is for the reader to spell out a foreign name at its first appearance.
Yes, I didn't want to stop listening.
One might think, as I did myself, that a thick book recounting the events of the first few weeks of World War I is of somewhat limited scope for the general reader with no special interest in this war. After listening, I have changed my mind. The book not only vividly brings to life the events and the protagonists but also gives a clear understanding of how the unspeakable horror of the four year trench warfare came about. The book in fact illuminates not only the war but the entire history of the 20th century, as well as the nature of war itself.
I'm an RN at a small rural hospital in Central California. I spend a fair amount of time behind the wheel and love having stories read to me. I do a lot of reading aloud to my kids.
I've read a few of Tuchman's decades ago. My favorite was Stillwell and the American Experience in China. Never tried Guns before and it's probably a swell book if you're reading a book.
If you're taking a long drive and trying to keep a mental map of Europe and various battle fronts and river systems in place, it's a little tricky. As a paper book, I'm sure it's swell. As an audio book for a quiet evening with a good glass of something and plenty of maps spread out it's probably a great deal of fun as well. It just didn't work for my limited purpose which is staying amused as I drive 90 miles to and from work.
This was the work that cemented Barbara Tuchman's reputation as a world-class historian, it is political, diplomatic, and military history at its best. In great detail, Tuchman relays and connects the diverse political and social forces at work in August 1914 and how the assassination of the Austrian Archduke set off a powder keg that ignited the world into war. As she demonstrated in another phenomenal work, The Proud Tower, Tuchman had a deep understanding of the social, cultural, and political forces at work in the world on the eve of the Great War and this depth of understanding and knowledge shines through in this classic work. But after hostilities begin, she demonstrates that she is more than a great social and cultural historian, she proves to be the equal of any military historian. The movement of armies, early skirmishes, and the desperation of the defense of France are retold with all the suspense one may have felt watching them in real time. The worst part about this book is that it ended with the closing days of August, leaving you wishing she had continued for another 10,000 pages to cover the entire war; though, I suppose, that would be asking a bit much. If you only listen to one book on the great war, this should be it.
History, historical fiction and mysteries are my faves, but a fan of all genres.
Follow this up with All Quiet on the Western Front and it will give you a very good perspective on the tragedy that was WW1.
Nadia May doesn't miss a note or a word, and through effective use of tonality and accents, keeps me tuned in to the story. Very educational.
Engaging, Dramatic, Suspenseful
I have listened to two other performances by Nadia May, "Anna Karenina" and Barbara Tuchman's "A Distant Mirror". At first I thought that Nadia May's voices for characters were a little off-putting but having listened to her with multiple texts, I find that she really gives life to the words on the page.
This is the story of the events running up to the colossal mobile battle that set the stage for the dissolution of Old Europe in the trench warfare of 1915-1917 and paved the way for the horrors of the twentieth century. It was an old fashioned campaign fought with new weapons: heavy artillery and the machine gun, with infantry and horses along for the ride. The narration is effective and urgent, though at times mannered where French and German accents are assumed. You can feel the old world giving way to the new under the remorseless pressure of events and the foolish optimism of the leaders of Edwardian Europe. The description of the events surrounding strategic and command decisions in the first weeks of the war is masterly. The course of events was dictated by the whims of the Kaiser, the delusions of the French military staff, Imperial Russian honor and stupidity, British blundering that worked out in the end (at the cost of virtually the whole army), and railway timetables.
I decided that the author's academic, though ironic, detachment from the horrific behavior of the Germans in Belgium in the first days of the war was the best way of approaching the topic since it left the reader to decide for himself what reaction was justified at the time. The reaction of the British was perhaps the most natural and explains much about the subsequent course of the war. We can ponder whether the world has advanced or retreated since 1914, when the Germans felt no need to dress up the deliberate murder and dispossession of civilians as anything other than a legitimate military tactic, intended to shorten the war. The 'Huns' were brutal, but they were honest.
Yes, I would definitely recommend this audiobook to a friend. It is an amazingly detailed look at the events leading to WWI. The story feels like a behind the scenes expose because of the author's use of diverse sources from top military leaders and the wives of diplomats to everyday people caught in the middle of fight.
Her narration and excellent accents bring to life the host of international characters in the story.
If you enjoy non-fiction related to major world conflicts you probably already own this book but having it read to you by a skilled narrator will prove to be a great experience.
A classic history
The myth busting about the BEF and the dreadful leadership of their commander Field Marshall French.
The March of Folly
The narrator has a shrill almost migraine inducing voice that gets worse whenever she attempts to put on ludicrous accents for French, Russians, Germans etc. Her voice grates on the nerves making it difficult to listen for anything but short periods of time. I recommend Tylenol or Ibuprofen be take with this otherwise excellent book.