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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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  •  
    Michael Reed 04-29-14
    ratings
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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
  •  
    Robert Richard 04-20-14 Member Since 2004
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    "informative and engrossing"
    What did you love best about A World Undone?

    The history is made into a riveting story and extensive background material on many aspects is included. The author does not hesitate to point out the many tragic failures of the conflict.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tyler Red Deer, AB, Canada 03-04-14
    Tyler Red Deer, AB, Canada 03-04-14 Member Since 2015

    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!

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    "Probably the best of the war chronicles..."

    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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Noah New York, New York 03-02-14
    Noah New York, New York 03-02-14
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    "Makes you feel like you were really there"
    What made the experience of listening to A World Undone the most enjoyable?

    The history was detailed, and yet still moved forward at a steady clip without getting bogged down. Just enough detail was provided to make it wonderfully realistic and vivid without becoming wonkish or pedantic. Amazingly, the author manages to cover almost every theater and event of WW1 in one medium-length book.

    Also, the narrator is great, and even gets the pronunciations right. Very impressive.


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

    The scene where the Austrian and Russian ambassadors fall weeping into each other's arms.


    Have you listened to any of Robin Sachs’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I have not, but now I will!


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

    The depiction of the pointless, rabid aggression of the slaughter at Verdun sent a chill down my spine.


    Any additional comments?

    I'm now even more glad that I did not live during World War I.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donald Logan 01-18-14
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    "The War That Was The Prelude to WW II"

    A detailed and nuanced presentation. Remarkably non-linear but soberly and dramatically written and presented. Worth listening to more than once. Highly recommended and a very telling commentary on the state of the human race.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Realist Biker SPARKS, NV, United States 11-25-13
    Realist Biker SPARKS, NV, United States 11-25-13 Member Since 2011

    Historian in training and writer

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    2
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    "Attempting to tie it all together"
    If you could sum up A World Undone in three words, what would they be?

    Strong historical accuacy


    What did you like best about this story?

    How the author organized the manuscript by the story lines with a background to help the reader understand this travisty.


    What about Robin Sachs’s performance did you like?

    His ability to sell the charactors with subtle audio nuances. A slight change of tone, so to speak.


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

    Owens, Sasson, and other readings that show the horrors in the solders perspective.


    Any additional comments?

    This is a text book for my Sophmore Level WWI class. As usual, Professor Gonzales, Oxford studied and spent decades teaching all over the United States and Europe, has choosen a great text that shows one of the best renditions of this Draconian act of Barbarism with human history; called World War I.

    This novel has captured all the facets of this hell from the grudges from centuries past to the petty and almost childish behaviour the leaders and generals had possessed. End fighting on both ends play a key roll, plus the strategies from battles faught decades earlier and the advances in weaponary turned this part of history into cornerstone to things to come within the 20th century.

    Finding this book both interesting for the information and how it is convayed. Reading it twice, once for scholastic reason and again for the pure interest of the book make it special and I will keep it on my history book shelf; reading it again someday.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John N. Berg Portland, Oregon 09-29-13
    John N. Berg Portland, Oregon 09-29-13 Member Since 2014

    buddhapop

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    "A Heartbreaking, Fascinating and Riveting History"

    The Great War can be hard to understand because the world was so different just 100 years ago. This war seemed so unnecessary. Millions of lives lost and yet it is still hard to understand the purpose of so much carnage. This book will leave the amateur historian with a much better understanding of events.

    The author does a great job with his various background segments. More than just a history of what led up to the war and the war itself, this book gives the reader an idea of what Europe in 1914 was like, information on the main players and events.

    This book doesn't get too bogged down in the minor details of each battle, but instead talks about the overall strategy of the combatants and how the battles played out. He also does an excellent job of bringing many of the main characters to life.

    It changed and enriched my view on the war. I think Germany is less responsible for the outbreak of the war than previously thought - there's plenty of blame to go around - and was much to harshly treated at its end.

    The narrator was a bit of a slow reader so I played him at 1.5 speed on my Kindle Fire. That seemed to work just fine.

    I highly recommend this book!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William 08-31-13
    William 08-31-13 Member Since 2012
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    "great listen"
    If you could sum up A World Undone in three words, what would they be?

    stupid officers, politicans


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Stupid is as stupid does


    Any additional comments?

    The stupidity of senior officers, political leaders is unbelievable

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    T. Wicker Tupelo, Ms United States 08-29-13
    T. Wicker Tupelo, Ms United States 08-29-13 Member Since 2008

    Bibliognost

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    "Excellent Overview"

    The author accomplished what he set out to do: give a comprehensive overview of the Great War with enough background pieces to set things in context. In this audio version, I didn't feel limited by the lack of maps or photographs. The narrative was well-written enough to give me a sense of where the English were versus the French troops during particular campaigns, whether Ludendorff was in the Northern verses the Southern theatres on the Russian front, etc.

    The chronological approach to the conflict itself, interspersed with relevant background pieces, worked very well. There are more detailed books to be sure, but I would recommend this book not only to those who want a one volume history of the war, but to those who have a number of other books on the subject, including those by Tuchman and Keegan.

    The narration was excellent. I realize this is a subjective area, but I've listened to a lot of audio books (more than 280 from Audible) and I would rank Robin Sachs with some of the best I've listened to (both non-fiction and fiction). With some readers, I find my attention wanders and I have to "rewind" from time to time to get back on track with the narrative. That didn't happen with Sachs.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason Wert Centre Hall, PA USA 07-15-13
    Jason Wert Centre Hall, PA USA 07-15-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Outstanding overview of the war"
    Would you listen to A World Undone again? Why?

    Great book on the formation and execution of the First World War. Enjoyed style and prose and found it accessible.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I found the early interactions of the ambassadors compelling, caught in a trap of their national making


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

    Good voice


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

    No, it required study and time. Well worth it


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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