We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
 >   > 
Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War | [Max Hastings]

Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War

From the acclaimed military historian, a new history of the outbreak of World War I - from the breakdown of diplomacy to the dramatic battlesthat occurred before the war bogged down in the trenches.
Regular Price:$27.97
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Your Likes make Audible better!

'Likes' are shared on Facebook and Audible.com. We use your 'likes' to improve Audible.com for all our listeners.

You can turn off Audible.com sharing from your Account Details page.

OK

Publisher's Summary

From the acclaimed military historian, a new history of the outbreak of World War I - from the breakdown of diplomacy to the dramatic battlesthat occurred before the war bogged down in the trenches.

World War I immediately evokes images of the trenches - grinding, halting battles that sacrificed millions of lives for no territory orvisible gain. Yet the first months of the war, from the German invasion of Belgium to the Marne to Ypres, were utterly different - full of advances andretreats, tactical maneuvering, and significant gains and losses. In Catastrophe 1914, Max Hastings re-creates this dramatic year, from the diplomatic crisis to the fighting in Belgium and France on the western front and Serbia and Galicia to the east. He gives vivid accounts of the battles and frank assessments of generals and political leaders, and shows why it was inevitable that this first war among modern industrial nations could not produce a decisive victory, resulting in a war of attrition. Throughout we encounter high officials and average soldiers, as well as civilians on the home front, giving us a vivid portrait of how a continent became embroiled in a war that would change everything.

©2013 Max Hastings (P)2013 Blackstone Audio

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (226 )
5 star
 (112)
4 star
 (82)
3 star
 (26)
2 star
 (5)
1 star
 (1)
Overall
4.3 (192 )
5 star
 (93)
4 star
 (72)
3 star
 (24)
2 star
 (3)
1 star
 (0)
Story
4.4 (200 )
5 star
 (110)
4 star
 (60)
3 star
 (26)
2 star
 (3)
1 star
 (1)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 12-13-13
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 12-13-13 Member Since 2010

    I am an avid eclectic reader.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3741
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    731
    694
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    642
    12
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "outstanding"

    I have spent the past three years reading everything I can get my hands on about world war one. Now that we are on the brink of the one hundredth anniversary of the Great War many new books are coming to market. “Catastrophe 1914” is one of them. In 1930 Sir Winston Churchill wrote “No part of the Great War compares in interest with its opening”. Max Hastings’s book addresses only the last six months of 1914. The book is well researched and Hastings draws on a wide range of documents and firsthand account to chronicle the events. The major strength of the book is how Hastings portrays the principal characters, not as stereotype but as real human beings with as many flaws as virtues. The author uses excellent narrative skill as he provides the wide-lens approach to the broad political and economical environment, but he also pays close attention to the details of his characters and their lives that makes for a human story. As you read the book you can see how the author rejects the long held academic theories about the war. He goes step by step and destroys the myths about the war’s beginning, and briefly destroys the theories about the consequence of the wars ending and also about what if German had won. Hasting sketches the steps by which Europe descended into war, he does not break new historiographical ground but rather skillfully outlines evidence by several generations of scholars into a readable narrative that is highly understandable to the lay reader. The author covers both the Western and Eastern fronts of the war as they were entirely different wars being fought at the same time. Hastings held me spellbound throughout the book. If you are interested in WWI history this is an excellent book to provide you with understanding and insight as well as wet your appetite for more. Simon Vance did an excellent job narrating the long book.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rollin Cholula, Mexico 10-07-13
    Rollin Cholula, Mexico 10-07-13 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    108
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    140
    62
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    4
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Outstanding history"
    What made the experience of listening to Catastrophe 1914 the most enjoyable?

    Hastings' handling of detail of soldiers' lives in the trenches, the tensions among politicians and military leaders, the personalities and shortcomings of military leaders and the local political and social contexts of the countries involved: Austria, Russia, Serbia, France, German and Great Britain. A truly formidable social, political and military history of the events leading up to the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and the first months of the war.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Catastrophe 1914?

    The forays of individual soldiers carrying out incredible feats of bravery and later receiving medals.


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

    Some parts are extremely painful, especially the detailed narratives of life in the trenches.


    Any additional comments?

    Max Hastings has written a fantastic and innovative history of a much researched period. Fans of European history will enjoy this book.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William Zachmann Philadelphia USA 01-29-14
    William Zachmann Philadelphia USA 01-29-14 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    6
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A human view of the Great War"
    Where does Catastrophe 1914 rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    As a history book on a well documented world event, this one takes a different path. It adds to the facts and the critical historical analysis of this catastrophe the personal touch of testimonials from letters and notes from the men in the trenches, the fields and the cities.


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

    The narration was enhanced with perfect pronunciation of the French and the German in the book, providing great credibility and texture to the narration.


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

    Having been exposed to several books on the Great War, including the war poetry of Owen and Sassoon and the All Quiet on the Western Front, I have been aware of the magnitude of the conflict, the suffering of the soldiers and the horrors of trench warfare, this book is, in addition to all of that, the testimonials of many involved.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    George Converse, TX, United States 11-17-13
    George Converse, TX, United States 11-17-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    11
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "An Outstanding Book covering the first year of war"
    Would you listen to Catastrophe 1914 again? Why?

    Yes, narrator does a great job keeps you interested with what he is reading. Max Hastings mixes well the personal and historical prospectives to make a more well rounded story.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Nothing stands out the book itself was great.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Max does a great job covering the BEF in the first year. Don't get me wrong he does a great job covering it all but the BEF comes through clearly to forefront with me.


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

    no


    Any additional comments?

    Very worth it.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott Santa Clara, CA, United States 04-27-14
    Scott Santa Clara, CA, United States 04-27-14 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    83
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    77
    63
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The human and societal cost of war"

    Great writing and narration come together in this masterpiece on the grim wages of war.
    The book is easy to follow, and compelling—and leaves one with a greater understanding of not only The Great War, but The Greater War to follow.
    The book presents a uniquely clear account of the factions involved in the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, the uncertainty governing England's choosing of sides, and the distinctly different roles of Germany and Austria in the war. Hastings' look at the roles of the English navy, and of Winston Churchill in particular, come across as unbiased and insightful.
    In the end, Hastings' assessment that the triumph of German militarism would have been disastrous for European civilization rings true, especially in light of the horrors perpetrated by the Nazis in the later part of the 20th century.
    This book is a perfect companion to "The Guns of August." Both books cover strictly the first part of WWI, yet each provides a very different perspective. Whereas "Guns of August" focuses more on the military aspects, this book focuses more on the war's impact on average people, as well as the aristocratic (and eccentric) personalities that precipitated and propelled in it.
    In the introduction, the author says he wanted to include more about Serbia's involvement than is given in most accounts, and that coverage is well done, and welcome.
    One more book that has contributed to my understanding of WWI is John Keegan's "The Face of Battle." Its recounting of the battle of the Somme fills in details which neither of the previously-mentioned books capture in quite such imagery or detail.
    I did not rate the story as five-star only because the author seemed to have some trouble deciding how to leave off the story—not surprising, however, since the narrative ends with the war still in progress.
    Simon Vance is, of course, a superlative narrator, and is well suited to this somewhat emotional account of the onset, confusion, and horrors of war.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Saulges, France 01-28-14
    David Saulges, France 01-28-14 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    10
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I wish I could have had this book a long time ago"
    Would you listen to Catastrophe 1914 again? Why?

    Yes, again and again, so many good facts and stories to take in at one sitting


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    None, its not that type of book


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

    Very much so, there is so much to get emotional about, you need his calm matter of fact approach


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

    Too many to mention


    Any additional comments?

    Such an important time in our generations history, no one should get a day older without understanding what happened in 1914

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Charlotte, NC, United States 01-22-14
    Chris Charlotte, NC, United States 01-22-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    6
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The Great War: For the Rest of Us"
    Any additional comments?

    I don't typically review media purchases, but Catastrophe 1914 deserves special attention. Max Hasting' work is enlightening, and though ostensibly a war history, it truly brings the human element to the forefront. That's a good thing, as I'm not so interested in war history itself. Endless discussion of battle tactics and droning regimental information regurgitation is not my cup of tea, and Catastrophe contains just enough battle scenes to lend flavor to the reading without jumping the shark. If you're of a similar mind, Catastrophe is an attempt to cover the first few months of 1914, leading up to the image of the war most know.

    Aptly titled, Catastrophe outlines the attitudes and people of the time, both great and small as they grapple with world events which destroyed the lives of so many. In the tradition following correspondence of participants at home and on the front, Hastings weaves stories of human interest against the backdrop of war. Truth really is stranger than fiction at times, and that war's follies are given context rooted in those who lived through it.

    I was interested in picking this title up for two reasons -- the first global conflict of the modern age is something I just don't know much about, and the Simon Vance reading is tops. I'd listen to Mr. Vance read a collection of pancake recipes, and his authority and talent really shines through. I'm not sure I'd have picked this up in paper form, but a recommendation pushed me to give the audiobook a try and I'm not disappointed.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    lrjanzen 01-14-14
    lrjanzen 01-14-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    29
    8
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "First Rate Intoduction to the opening of the war."
    Where does Catastrophe 1914 rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is one of the better history books I have listened to. Excellent performance.


    Any additional comments?

    The usual comment about not having the supporting material to look at especially maps. You have to go out to the internet to get maps to follow the story.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim United States 06-29-14
    Jim United States 06-29-14

    History, Sci-Fi, Fantasy nerd from St. Louis.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    10
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great Story - Great Story Telling"

    I've 'read' a LOT of WW1 books. I've enjoyed many, and it's perhaps because of this fact I enjoyed Mr. Hastings book so much. It's his telling of the stories behind, alongside and in front of the battles which make it so refreshing and delightful. The normal, obligatory and very often sterile numbers, names, units, dates and leaders can become mind numbing. But Mr. Hastings brings the battle into your neighborhood and home. He's obviously done his homework and has approached this topic in a 21st Century way to making a now-distant-event, closer. This book is the bridge between the 'big picture' numbers and the anecdotal individuals narrative.

    Students: Do you need to 'endure' a history class to get a credit? Read (or better yet - LISTEN) to this book. Visualize yourself in Belgium, or Paris or Poland... Look outside and think about how you'd react if your whole world was falling to pieces around you. Mr. Hastings book does just that for you, taking you back to WW1.

    History Dorks: (...and Yes, I proudly bear this title!) Listen to this one. It's good. REALLY good.

    I'd like to mention Mr. Vance's reading and I could go on-and-on but let me qualify my statement. I don't have time to sit and hold a book (not too mention driving laws and physics prevent me from doing so in the car), so almost all of my 'reading' is done from Audible.

    It's with this in mind I make the following statement about Mr. Vance's performance... I will listen to ANYTHING Mr. Vance reads, including stock quotes or variations of rose flower hybrids. :)

    Get this and enjoy people. It's is wonderful! I'm going to let this sit for about 30 days, then I'll look forward to hearing it all over again.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Zephyr 09-15-14
    Zephyr 09-15-14 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    46
    13
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent account of the early events of the war."
    What made the experience of listening to Catastrophe 1914 the most enjoyable?

    It was very informative about the early savage months of the war often forgotten compared to the years of trench warfare that followed.


    What did you like best about this story?

    It was very well written. This is my first Max Hastings book, and while I think he's a discount John Toland, his work is still excellent.


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

    Just the overall plight of the combatants. In all history this war was probably hardest on the soldiers of both sides. Brave men on both sides endured horror and privation in a war that historians quite rightly consider nothing more than a catastrophe for the world.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 11 results PREVIOUS12NEXT

    There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.