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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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  •  
    Novotny Klamath Falls OR 10-04-14
    Novotny Klamath Falls OR 10-04-14 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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
  •  
    Sam Sydney, Australia 09-19-14
    Sam Sydney, Australia 09-19-14 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Empathetic testament to cataclysmic events"

    Our postmodern (whatever that still means) world pivots on the Great War. Four years that replaced the cradle of modernity with a crater, ruined everything and granted everything to come... I greatly enjoyed J.G. Meyer's book, longly and cleverly mixing detail with survey and building to a confident overview of the incredible density of events, and bringing to them a modern analysis, some might say revision.

    Particularly enjoyed the emphasis given to the importance of the strategic and fighting strengths of the Australian and Canadian forces to Entente victory; the incredible description of the German front lines, especially their underground labyrinthine tunnels; the many ironies that colour monumental events... A great read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Philip 08-25-14
    Philip 08-25-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Madness, Ruin and Death"

    This War was the result of a lack of imagination or at least the inability to recognize that the world had changed. Had any of the principle actors recognized this it would have been a very short war and a very different world when it was over. Would it have been better? Who is to say but many of the millions who died would have live and given a chance to contribute. Every world leader should find this and The Guns of August on a mandatory reading list.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Connor 08-17-14
    Connor 08-17-14 Member Since 2011

    Enjoy the adventure

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    "The War that Changed Everything"

    In honor of the 100 year anniversary of World War I, listened to “A World Undone”. Covers reasons for the war, the world leaders, the important military officers, and the major battles. Importantly, the author does more than report the facts, but calls out the brilliant and the stupid which allows the listener to understand the consequences of decisions by generals and politicians.

    Both sides were guilty of wanting war and the spoils that go to the victor. The politicians lied to the public (some things never change) and said the purpose of the war is to defend ourselves and to defeat evil. But no one (Politicians, Generals nor the Public) understood that war had changed. Previously, armies rushed at each other with bayonets or charged on horses. But advancements in weapons now meant that thousands could be killed in a few minutes. There is nothing romantic about long range artillery, aircraft, machine guns, tanks and gas. No one expected that 10 million soldiers would die.

    Like World War I, this is a long book. Fortunately, the narrator is talented and I did not tire of hearing his voice.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Stevenson Houston, TX, USA 07-07-14
    James Stevenson Houston, TX, USA 07-07-14
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    "Brilliantly written"
    What made the experience of listening to A World Undone the most enjoyable?

    I learned a ton, and I learned it in a very well structured way. The story of WW1 is intricate and a retelling could easily become convoluted. The structure of the core history interspersed with background sections is genius.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The people who looked at the situation and reacted and changed appropriately. John Monash for example.


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

    Robin Sachs did a great job - but not really the right question since he isn't performing characters in this book - it's a history book. He does a good job reading some direct quotes though.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The description of young British soldiers advancing, singing, shoulder to shoulder at the Somme, and being mowed down by German soldiers - who eventually stopped firing because they were so sickened by the butchery.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David United States 06-14-14
    David United States 06-14-14 Member Since 2012

    Hellicopter Man

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    "Stunning"
    Where does A World Undone rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    The very top.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Organization. Presentation. Comprehension.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The first battle of the Marn August 1914. Listened several times and even googled battle maps.


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

    I did so. And then much of it again.


    Any additional comments?

    Indespensable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 06-01-14 Member Since 2012
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    "A great, but attention demanding, work"
    What made the experience of listening to A World Undone the most enjoyable?

    The categorization of different elements important to the story. For example, after presenting historical elements relating to Kaiser Wilhelm, there was sort of a "flashback" element entitled "Background: the Hohenzollerns". This went on for the Hapsburgs, the leadership of the Central powers, the leadership of the Triple Entente, and so on. These segments were entertaining, informative, and, I found, essential to "keeping up" for the amateur historian.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Related to the above comment, the detailed description of an event laced together with the background information about the individual players.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The very detailed accounting of the fight for Verdun.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    There were several elements that moved me, but all were related to the individual accounts of members present at the scene of events described.


    Any additional comments?

    A suggestion for the best way to listen to this book: I opened an interactive time/event map website and left it open while listening to the book. I could update the years on the website while I listened to the book and was able to follow the movement of troops on a map.
    This is one of the books I should have purchased an accompanying "readable" book for. I might do so yet. This work is worth revisiting as I continue to read/listen about WWI.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Erik WICHITA, KS, United States 05-30-14
    Erik WICHITA, KS, United States 05-30-14 Member Since 2013
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    "THE Definitive Work for the History of WWI"
    Would you consider the audio edition of A World Undone to be better than the print version?

    Yes - the presentation was perfect. The print version would be nice to have as a reference though. I was very impressed with the amount of information provided in this work.


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

    The Backgrounds provided at the beginning of several chapters. Not only does this book do an excellent job of thoroughly and fairly covering what happened between 1914-1918, but it provides necessary background to important events, battles, people and places, which are necessary to know before you can understand the significance they had in the War.


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

    He didn't perform characters, as there weren't characters to perform.


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

    I can't quite listen to a book that's 28 hours long, but it provided me a great month of listening to while driving to and from work.


    Any additional comments?

    If you want to have a well-rounded, in-depth, fair, balanced, well written and well read history of WWI, you need look no further. Get this book! You won't be disappointed!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Wyoming, Mi USA 05-06-14
    Amazon Customer Wyoming, Mi USA 05-06-14

    MSU Spartan grad living in PDX. First book : London's Call of the Wild, Doyle's Holmes, and Herbert's Dune. History, Mystery, Sci Fi

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    "Comprehensive, Chaotic, Sounds about Right."
    Would you listen to A World Undone again? Why?

    Yes, it is a well arranged piece that both works at giving background as the story of the first World War marches forward.


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

    I felt the chapters regarding the introduction of nerve agents into the wars, along with the perspectives on the commanding officers on either side gave a excellent demonstration on how the technology and tactics had gotten ahead of the human element. It almost felt as if the opposing sides had to learn how to fight again.


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

    A balanced tone, he kept the story moving


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

    No, this is a slug fest, just like aspects of the war.


    Any additional comments?

    One of the more enjoyable history texts I've come across. It did a better job of bringing the human elements to the forefront, than having it be bogged down in troop action and numbers.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Reed 04-29-14
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    "Fantastic history, not an uninteresting chapter"
    Where does A World Undone rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Best nonfiction, by far. Meticulously researched, and the vocal performance was unwavering and excellent.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The depth of the presentation was tremendous. This is a seminal work in the field, and it was conveyed with gravitas, but not so much that one tuned out at any point. Which is rather surprising, when you consider it's a book that requires over 20 hours to complete.


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

    There is a sense of awesome respect for the subject matter which is wonderfully conveyed.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The description of life in the trenches, especially in Belgium at Flanders and Ypres will always stick with me.


    Any additional comments?

    Highly recommended, and could easily be added to many college courses on the subject or related subjects (20th Century History, European History, etc.).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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