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 read widely in military history and politics of war. This is one of the most readable and comprehensive history of WWI I have read. Like Barbara Tuchman, Mr. Meyer has a gifted pen.
Comprehensive, Thorough, Somewhat Dry
The author does an excellent job of detailing the war, and I especially enjoyed the "background" segments, giving the reader a back-story to recent history of a nation-state, current or relative past events in that state or before a battle, helping set the stage for the complexities of the war. Too many facts, dates, technical details often resulted getting caught up in minutia, neglecting the human side of the story.
The narrator had a very flat tone, and this resulted in a somewhat dry, difficult to follow story. I'm an avid fan of military history and WWI, so I did appreciate the details and back-stories, but again, it probably would've been better to read in book format. I may rent a book from the library to re-read it because it was very interesting.
No. I have a 1-hour commute to work and even at 2 hours a day, it took me awhile to complete. I'd often have to repeat segments to catch names and events again.
This book may have been more enjoyable in a text format, allowing the reader to visually see dates, names, places, rather than having to hold all of these things in a memory bank as the story progressed. Rather dry and overall didn't express enough of the human toll, of suffering of soldiers and nations.
Well read, easy to follow narrative, despite the numerous stops for background chapters. These never disturb the flow, and add significantly to the understanding of the war.
I thought this a digestible yet complete overview of the First World War. It was free from predetermined perspectives and took a balanced approach towards participants and causes. It avoided nationalistic preferences or latent prejudices. It was not scholarly, so I did not read it for new insight, but it seemed accurate without forcing new theories just to establish contemporary relevance. The use of anecdotal sub chapters to provide background was useful if a bit thin. I appreciated attention to some of the underrepresented figures of the war, such as Gen. John Monash who commanded ANZAC forces. I thought it was commendably restrained in the avoidance of excess battle detail, bit unfortunately not as critical of many of the military leaders as they deserved (at least with the perspective of 100 years). The performance was solid.
I have to caveat this review by saying it followed my reading of the "Rise and Fall of the Third Reich", which, in my humble opinion is one of the best written books on history. Although covering different wars, I found that this book did not weave the story together as coherently as the Rise did.
Also the reading left a lot to be desired. It was so flat and unemotional that it would have put me to sleep had I been disinterested in the topic.
Meyer bleeds passion, with the writing clearly udisplaying his obsession, respect, and care for the subject.
One passage in the introduction stuck: 'I had the great fortune of reading about the Great War without the polluting thought of hoping to write a book myself later' (paraphrased). Its a complete and masterful work, created from the heart and shaped by an expert.
The narration feels slow to begin with and Sachs almost sounds drone like until suddenly I found the pace he set to be appropriate to the content. It quickly got better.
Very good narration of a text that expresses the tragic inevitability of conflict and steep learning curve negotiated by the participants in what some call the first modern war. Covers the "great man" perspective but tempers it with plenty of material about the populations at large and many colorful outlying issues that are usually glossed over. Disturbing but highly satisfying as a primer on the war to end all wars.
I wouldn't, because none of my friends are as hardcore about history. If you're a fan of Hard Core History by Dan Carlin, you'll love this
The descriptions of the Sultans
His gravitas is addictive
The idiocy of the leaders made me chuckle
Well research & well written. The Great War (WW1) is very hard for modern people to understand -- especially it's beginning. This book helps you grasp the politics & the plight of a common soldiers. The interludes called "Background" is a splendid way the author shares information without it being overwhelming. Great Book.
The author brought a whole new light to understanding WW1. I absolutely loved the "background" chapters which set up the reasons and mindsets for some of the decisions that were made during the war.
The German and French reasons for events that unfolded that would become the battle of Verdun.
This book contrasted the generals that were willing to throw wave after wave of their own men needlessly at the enemy with the generals that thought more strategically and wouldn't waste the lives of their men. As I listened to the book, I felt myself wanting the generals that used strategy to preserve the lives of their men to succeed, regardless of which side they fought for, as opposed to the generals that subscribed to the "meat grinder" theory of warfare.
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