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)
The narrator was fantastic for this book. It is a great history of the war. While potentially a little dry at times, it certainly delivers a complete story of a war that I only thought I knew a lot about!
This is one of the best books for beginners wanting to know about the origins, diplomacy, combatants, battles and military strategies of World War I. I have it in book form and audiobook form.
The author's writing is concise but not dense. It's not a difficult book to read. However, the wording is such that the reader is given an enormous amount of information on each page.
One thing I especially like and is unique in my experience, is how the chapters are divided. After every chapter on the war there is a chapter called "Background." Some examples of these Background chapters are: The Hapsburgs, The Serbs, The Romanovs, London in 1914, The Machinery of Death, The French Commanders. These chapters allow one to read about what's going on in the war without detailed background information being interwoven into the text, thus making the text too dense.
The audiobook is read by Robin Sachs. I like him to listen to; however, he makes more than a few mistakes. He misreads the text. I only know this because I have the actual book and usually read the book while listening to the audiobook. It would take too long to list every example of a misread, so I will give just one: On page 250 of the paperback book, the first sentence starts with, "Early in January, French went to London . . . ." Robin Sachs reads this sentence as: "Early in June, French went to London . . . ." I think if you don't have a copy of the book these misreads can lead to confusion. FYI: This sentence is read in Part 2, Chapter 6 of the audiobook, (Chapter 13 - The Search for Elsewhere - in the book.)
One of the best parts about this book is the fact that Meyer gives not only every necessary detail to understand what is happening but he gives the background of many events and histories on all the key players to make ensure you understand their motives. Being new to studying world war 1 this book was the perfect way for me to become introduced to many of the complex reasons behind the conflict as well as the simple reasons Amazing book and well narrated
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.
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 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.
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.
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