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A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, 1914 to 1918 | [G. J. Meyer]

A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, 1914 to 1918

The First World War is one of history’s greatest tragedies. In this remarkable and intimate account, author G. J. Meyer draws on exhaustive research to bring to life the story of how the Great War reduced Europe’s mightiest empires to rubble, killed 20 million people, and cracked the foundations of the world we live in today. World War I is unique in the number of questions about it that remain unsettled. After more than 90 years, scholars remain divided on these questions, and it seems likely that they always will.
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Publisher's Summary

The First World War is one of history’s greatest tragedies. In this remarkable and intimate account, author G. J. Meyer draws on exhaustive research to bring to life the story of how the Great War reduced Europe’s mightiest empires to rubble, killed 20 million people, and cracked the foundations of the world we live in today.

World War I is unique in the number of questions about it that remain unsettled. After more than 90 years, scholars remain divided on these questions, and it seems likely that they always will. A World Undone does not claim to have all the answers - if answers are even possible. However, it will provide listeners with enough information to understand why the questions persist, and perhaps in some cases, to arrive at conclusions of their own. A World Undone is a grand, tragic story brilliantly told.

About the author: G. J. Meyer is a professional writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Harper’s, and many other publications. While working for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, he was awarded a Nieman Fellowship by Harvard University. He is the author of the New York Times best seller The Tudors, the Edgar Award-winning The Memphis Murders, and other works.

©2006 G. J. Meyer (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

“A World Undone is an original and very readable account of one of the most significant and often misunderstood events of the last century. With a historian’s eye for clearheaded analysis and a storyteller’s talent for detail and narrative, G. J. Meyer presents a compelling account of the blunders that produced the world’s first ‘great war’ and set the stage for many of the tragic events that followed.” (Steve M. Gillon, resident historian, the History Channel)

“Thundering, magnificent…This is a book of true greatness that prompts moments of sheer joy and pleasure. Researched to the last possible dot…It will earn generations of admirers.” (Washington Times)

“Meyer’s sketches of the British Cabinet, the Russian Empire, the aging Austro-Hungarian Empire, the leaders of Prussia with their newly minted swagger, are lifelike and plausible. His account of the tragic folly of Gallipoli is masterful.” (Los Angeles Times)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Waykuy 01-20-13
    Waykuy 01-20-13 Member Since 2012

    kas7946

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    "Excellant summary of WWI"
    What made the experience of listening to A World Undone the most enjoyable?

    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.


    What did you like best about this story?

    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.


    Which character – as performed by Robin Sachs – was your favorite?

    As a history book there were no character performances but he did a great job in reading it.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Flatbroke 04-27-13
    Flatbroke 04-27-13 Member Since 2015
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    "Important WWI book not to miss"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kindle Customer Albuquerque, NM 12-05-12
    Kindle Customer Albuquerque, NM 12-05-12 Member Since 2014

    Journalist/writer. Addicted to literary fiction and history.

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    "The Great War Placed Back in Proper Perspective"
    What did you like best about this story?

    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.


    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Austin 06-09-14
    Austin 06-09-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Superb One Volume History"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark T Johnson 06-05-14
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    "Informative primer on WWI"
    What made the experience of listening to A World Undone the most enjoyable?

    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.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Martin Yuen Long NT, Hong Kong 01-15-14
    Martin Yuen Long NT, Hong Kong 01-15-14 Member Since 2008
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    "Excellent work of history, beautifully narrated."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Without question.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of A World Undone?

    The short 'background' segments weaved in to the main narrative.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    The construction of the narrative and quality of the narration made it one of the best Audible history books I've listened to.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jack 03-10-13
    Jack 03-10-13
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    "Almost 100 years later this war still impacts us"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew Dunn Vancouver, BC Canada 01-21-13
    Andrew Dunn Vancouver, BC Canada 01-21-13 Listener Since 2010
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    "Educational"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris NAMPA, ID, United States 01-14-13
    Chris NAMPA, ID, United States 01-14-13 Member Since 2015
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    "Phenominal"
    What made the experience of listening to A World Undone the most enjoyable?

    Narrator is great. Material is easy to move through.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The writer's ability to capture the major events of the conflict and bring a comprehensive history together in one book.


    What about Robin Sachs’s performance did you like?

    Great narrator. Great accent!


    Any additional comments?

    Great listen.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ron Elgin, TX, United States 11-05-12
    Ron Elgin, TX, United States 11-05-12
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    "Complicated Story of a Complicated War."
    What did you love best about A World Undone?

    Excellent coverage of a truly world-wide conflict.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Clarifies the issues that caused the War and caused it to continue for so long.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Description of Gallpoli Campaign.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No!


    Any additional comments?

    Very well done history.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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