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
I am an avid eclectic reader.
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.
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.
Nothing stands out the book itself was great.
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.
Very worth it.
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.
The forays of individual soldiers carrying out incredible feats of bravery and later receiving medals.
Some parts are extremely painful, especially the detailed narratives of life in the trenches.
Max Hastings has written a fantastic and innovative history of a much researched period. Fans of European history will enjoy this book.
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.
The narration was enhanced with perfect pronunciation of the French and the German in the book, providing great credibility and texture to the narration.
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.
This is one of the better history books I have listened to. Excellent performance.
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.
Yes, again and again, so many good facts and stories to take in at one sitting
None, its not that type of book
Very much so, there is so much to get emotional about, you need his calm matter of fact approach
Too many to mention
Such an important time in our generations history, no one should get a day older without understanding what happened in 1914
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.
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