I have read many books about WWII but have long thought I needed a better understanding of WWI and how it led to WWII. This book fills that gap and then some.
I really appreciated the way the author did "background" on the various cultures and participants. This greatly increased my knowledge of Europe and the eastern empires.
As a history book there were no character performances but he did a great job in reading it.
The length of the book would prohibit that but it would have been great to have the time to listen to larger segments at a time.
I wish I had listened to this book before reading anything of WWII. If I had, all my reading of WWII would have been more meaningful.
The strength of this book is that it provides all the background facts that you didn't know you needed to know to get a better understanding of WWI. There is so much to cover in WWI that much of these items that don't directly contribute to the action are left out of other books. It's a great loss because these are the same facts that humanize the people and make some of their decisions understandable.
The book starts out with the trigger event- the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. But it humanizes the Archduke by talking about the class difference between him and his wife-to-be Sophie and how his marriage choice affected his relationship with his uncle Emperor Franz Joseph. It brings up the Archduke's different attitude (compared to the Emperor) on the Serbian people- they ended up killing someone who was more sympathetic to their ideas.
Background details are provided on the history of the Balkan states, the dual nature of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and how it affected decision making, the Serbian government and its involvement (or noninvolvement) in the assassination. It goes into detail on the horrific conditions in trench warfare.
WWI was a tremendous tragedy that seems to have dropped out of the minds of the rest of the world. There are no easy answers about why a regional war turned in to a multiyear ordeal costing lives and causing governments to fall. The book won't give all the answers, but it will provide a better framework about topics that would be unknown to all but the historians.
Journalist/writer. Addicted to literary fiction and history.
This history is a necessary corrective to Niall Ferguson's right-wing revisionist tome "The Pity of War." Meyer returns moral clarity to the period, particularly the immediate pre-war period during which the feckless leaders of the Central Powers deliberately pulled the whole of Europe into catastrophe.
A World Undone is an excellent one volume history of World War One that manages to weave together the story of the wars various fronts in a coherent, understandable narrative. This is no easy task with WWI, one of the most complex events in human history.
This is an very approachable book that provides enough background information to be easily accessible to a reader that is not well versed in the subject. It is also detailed and comprehensive, and contains a lot of information that I, a huge WWI buff, did not know about before reading this.
If you want to understand World War One, why it happened, why it was important, and the events and human experiences that defined the conflict, then this is the book for you. I have never read/listened to a one volume history of the war that does as effective a job as this book at telling the story of the Great War.
For a novice historian with no real knowledge of the events of WWI to compare this book to, it was a real eye-opener. I drive a couple of hours a day for my job and during that time I listened to this book. Most days I would enter work or home nearly in tears thinking about how avoidable this war was and the pure carnage that took place during it.
What would our world have been like if this, and the second world war, never have taken place. All the uniquely talented young men who senselessly died, along with the destruction of so much material goods; what would this world have been like today. I just can't imagine how much better we would have been.
If you have any interest in learning about the who, what, where, when, and hows of WWI this is an excellent book and I would highly recommend it.
I've been a member here for a few years now. Nothing will ever replace printed books for me, but I do enjoy lots of things Audible has!
I listened to this audio book while researching the first world war. It is probably the most complete compilation (at least in any readable or audible format) of the great war. The author is meticulous in his effort, paying special attention to the details. The book is even entertaining in parts - how often can you say that for a history book!
The short 'background' segments weaved in to the main narrative.
No, but on starting to write this review I looked at the running time and couldn't believe it was so long: it flew by for me.
The construction of the narrative and quality of the narration made it one of the best Audible history books I've listened to.
Say something about yourself!
Now I understand why my grandfather was so traumatized by his service in WWI. The politicians, diplomats and generals were all so incredibly incompetent, ego driven and short sighted. This is a slow and steady recounting of how Europe got into the WWI, how the war was waged, how it ended and how all of it made WWII inevitable.
19th Century people fighting a 20th Century war that still resonates in the 21st Century. A telling of the characters involved and their critical decisions in politics and military strategy that lead up to and allowed the carnage of 4 bloody years to go on and on. More than 9 million died needlessly in a conflict that destroyed the European culture and sowed the seeds for WWII told confidently without too much detail of the battles. The background information he provides fleshes out the context with the culture at-large. The progress of the battles focus on key moments of strategy and tactics rather than a blow-by-blow accounting. If you want to understand many of the issues facing today's world, this history will give you something think about, including the liberation of the arabs and creation of the state of Israel, the concentration of imperialistic power into the hands of the Big Three, the beginning of industrial warfare and anonymous killing machines (i.e..Drones), and the ego-driven national insecurity that leads us into conflict again and again and again.
Like most people, I didn't really have a clear idea exactly *why* Europe went to war in August of 1914, and why it took 4 long years to arrive at a peace. I left Meyer's book with a much better understanding of the factors and personalities that led the world into the meat grinder of the Great War.
The book is a bit too detailed in places, in terms of the military history and strategic wartime decision-making, and perhaps a bit light on the effects of war on the non-fighting people in the belligerent countries, but it's a minor quibble, and this is an excellent book.
The reader can be a little dry-sounding and dull, but he generally does well with the material. there's a few obvious audio-patches where the tone of voice changes mid-sentence or mid-para, but nothing too jarring.