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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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  •  
    Amazon Customer 10-17-12
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    "Excellent."

    If you are a student of WWI you have to get this book. It is a bit long but it is never boring. One thing I really liked is how the author added "Background" chapters throughout the book. I also generally liked the level of detail for the separate battles.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Guy Ridgecrest, California, United States 10-05-12
    Guy Ridgecrest, California, United States 10-05-12
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    "Best book on this time period."
    Where does A World Undone rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is one of the best non-fiction books (audio or otherwise) that I've ever read.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Meyer weaves various aspects of the story together by providing background segments that lend a much deeper understanding of the events depicted.


    What about Robin Sachs’s performance did you like?

    English accents make for great story-telling...don't know why. :)


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    More of a satisfied feeling that my understanding of the war and it's causes has been greatly increased.


    Any additional comments?

    Meyer clearly illustrates missed opportunities and inexplicable decisions that led to the war starting and being prolonged. Fascinating stuff.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Nevada, USA 09-10-12
    Amazon Customer Nevada, USA 09-10-12 Member Since 2008
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    "Outstanding"
    Would you listen to A World Undone again? Why?

    This is the finest narrative of the Great War that I have ever read, or in this case listened to.


    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David P. McGivern Vancouver, BC Canada 08-27-12
    David P. McGivern Vancouver, BC Canada 08-27-12 Member Since 2007

    retired litigation lawyer; I read history; historical fiction; literary fiction. Narrator ++ important. Story equally so

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    "Better than Guns of August despite the narration"
    Would you listen to A World Undone again? Why?

    Bit of background first. In anticipation of the second volume of Ken Follett's Century trilogy, to be released next month, I reread - in print form - " Fall of Giants" -which I had as an audiobook when it was first released. " Giants" is an excellent, compelling story of characters caught in WW 1, English, German, Russian and American. I usually confine my reading to WW 2, so re reading "Giants" sparked my interest to learn about the first World War. I purchased ( audiobook) "Guns of August" but gave up on it both because of Ms. Tuchman's excessive detail without context and also because it is more about the battles than the causes of the war, [gave up notwithstanding John Lee's narration]. I switched mid-listen to "A World Undone". Much, much better. Not only is the writing clearer, giving more of an overview of the war without getting lost in the "right flank went there, left flank stormed back", but each chapter provides a short "Background" giving the context of, for example, " The Serbs"; "The Hapsburgs"; "The Romanovs" or "Paris in 1914" "Tthe British commanders" " The Jews of germany" " The Sea war;" etc. By its conclusion, I had an understanding not only of individual battles, (which didn't interest me), but an explanation of what the world was like before the war; the causes of the war; personalities of the war; and a little bit of its aftermath.If you want to get an introduction to the causes and the personalities of WW1 choose this. If you want detailed explanation of the battles, choose Guns of August


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

    n/a


    What didn’t you like about Robin Sachs’s performance?

    Everything!!!. His pacing, his voice, his monotone. Terrible. This is one of the rare exceptions to my rule that narration is as important as story. Seldom will I invest 27 hours to a very poor narration. I did in this case because of the content.


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

    ?? well, not all 27 hours...... but yes, finished it before I started others.


    Any additional comments?

    can't wait for the sequel to "Fall of Giants", due September 2012.

    7 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Lou Cave Creek, AZ USA 01-10-14
    Linda Lou Cave Creek, AZ USA 01-10-14 Member Since 2007

    Obsessive reader, 6-10 books a week, chosen from Member reviews. Fact & fiction, subjects from the Tudors to Tookie, Harlem to Hiroshima, Huey Long to Huey Newton.  In-depth fair reviews - from front to BLACK!!! 

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    "THERES PROBABLY A GREAT STORY IN THERE SOMEWHERE"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    I'm sure that this is likely a very well written and researched work. However, this is yet another mismatch of book and narrator. I'd be more likely to recommend the print version rather than the audio book because Robin Sachs, an otherwise good narrator, brings none of his considerable talents and skills to bear in this book. A totally wasted opportunity!


    Would you be willing to try another book from G. J. Meyer? Why or why not?

    I never give up on a writer based on one, or even 2, books. There's often a "perfect storm" at bay which causes some books and their narrators not to "gel". Often all the next book needs is a different narrator or the same one approaching the story from a different angle.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Robin Sachs’s performances?

    Of course. I've listened to quite a few of Robin Sach's narrative and have been more than satisfied. The problem here is a very factual and dry commentary that will put the reader to sleep unless the narrator goes above and beyond the call of duty to make the story interesting.


    Was A World Undone worth the listening time?

    Only with another narrator.


    Any additional comments?

    Poor pairings of stories and its readers are the fault of the audio producers. Many don't pay attention to the production once the "Play" button is pushed. As in all areas of the recording industry, the audiobook genre MUST step up to the plate and start to bring its "A Game".

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    panagiotis Athens, Greece 06-21-12
    panagiotis Athens, Greece 06-21-12 Member Since 2011
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    "So.."

    I was used to history books beeing boaring and monotonus, this book however is a completely diferent storry The author (this genius) has dedicated aprocsimatly 1 in 3 chapters (backround chapters) giving illuminating backround information about familly histories, historycal gossip and nasions history enableing you to follow the book even if you do not know what planet earth is. Further more he also gives such info even in the other chapters wich are more conserned in political and strategical events. I must also give credit to this fantastic narrator wich in my oppinion does a superb job not only by his general tone of voice, but also my bringing to life the words of long dead men. (listen to sample) To conclude i really beleve this book is a must reed if you are interested in history

    7 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ray N 12-15-14
    Ray N 12-15-14
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    "Excellent One Volume Overview"

    An excellent one volume overview of WWI. I like that it was chronological rather than topic based. The exception being the short background sections which covered a single topic or person in more depth.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Roger A Guffey 11-05-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Excellent!"
    What did you love best about A World Undone?

    A good, solid account of the Great War from start to finish.


    What other book might you compare A World Undone to and why?

    I do compare this book to The Guns of August and I like this one much better. It's a more complete story that presents the main protagonists in what feels like an accurate light at least. Guns left me with a more 'romanticized' view of some of the generals. Especially Joffre.


    What does Robin Sachs bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Robin Sachs is easy to listen to. Listening to an audio book does allow one to concentrate on picturing the scene instead of reading the words.


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

    I listened to this book twice and I'm sure I'll listen to it again. It's simply too long for one sitting but I did listen for several hours at a time.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Ronald Monroe, CT, United States 10-11-14
    Ronald Monroe, CT, United States 10-11-14 Member Since 2010
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    "A very well done narrative in all respects."

    G.J. Meyer has done a very good job of condensing a very complex geo-political time and breaking it down into digestible pieces. It is intriguing, draws you in, and brings to life a time that continues to shape our modern history. The backround chapters are essential, and greatly assist in an understanding the thought process of some very flawed political and military decisions. The narration is excellent. Tone and inflection are perfect for what could be a dry topic, but Robert Sachs handles it like a master,

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Novotny Klamath Falls OR 10-04-14
    Novotny Klamath Falls OR 10-04-14 Member Since 2010
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    "History Details Get Lost in an Audible Format"

    This book had so many details and facts and names, that is wasn't suitable for an audible listen. Much better hard copy which you could read and then go back to check on what you read earlier.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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