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.
“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)
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.
I would recommend the book over the audio version. In such a long drawn out story (68 chapters and 29 hours) it's very easy to get lost or forget exactly which battle is being discussed. In the book you could flip back to the chapter heading or the table of contents and always have a feel for where you are. That doesn't work quite the same with the audio book. I would have given the printed book 4 stars, but knocking the audio down because I don't think the format is conducive to this particular work.
Probably not. WWI is one of the most dramatic and fascinating chapters of the entire world history the author does very little to capture that. It's 29 hours of "this happened, then that happened, then this happened" instead of really telling a story and bringing it to life. To be fair, the book stated from the beginning that was the style of this work and there are reasons for it, but it still got old as the book went on.
Style aside, the work is excellent and I'm happy I listened to it. I don't want this to be a negative review, I just want to give fair warning so listeners are prepared for a long, detailed history.
Possibly the very best one-volume history of WWI you are going to find. Read it in print twice, listened once, will probably listen again. In addition to an excellent linear front to back presentation of the history of WWI, Meyer adds short "backgrounder" chapters that are standalone presentations of their subject: The Hapsburgs, The Hohenzollerns, and more.
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.
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.
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.
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