A magisterial chronicle of the calamity that crippled Europe in 1914. Unabridged and split into two parts.
1914: a year of unparalleled change. The year that diplomacy failed, Imperial Europe was thrown into its first modernised warfare and white-gloved soldiers rode in their masses across pastoral landscapes into the blaze of machine–guns. What followed were the costliest days of the entire War. But how had it happened?
In Catastrophe: 1914 Max Hastings, best-selling author of the acclaimed All Hell Let Loose, answers at last how World War I could ever have begun. Ranging across Europe, from Paris to St. Petersberg, from Kings to corporals, Catastrophe 1914 traces how tensions across the continent kindled into a blaze of battles; not the stalemates of later trench-warfare but battles of movement and dash where Napoleonic tactics met with weapons from a newly industrialised age.
A searing analysis of the power-brokering, vanity and bluff in the diplomatic maelstrom reveals who was responsible for the birth of this catastrophic world in arms. Mingling the experiences of humbler folk with the statesmen on whom their lives depended, Hastings asks: whose actions were justified? From the out-break of war through to its terrible making, and the bloody gambles in Sarajevo and Mons, Le Cateau, Marne and Tannenberg, this is the international story of World War I in its most severe and influential period. Published to coincide with its 100th Anniversary, Catastrophe: 1914 explains how and why this war, which shattered and changed the Western world for ever, was fought.
©2013 Max Hastings (P)2013 HarperCollins Publishers Limited
"Magnificent...hypnotically readable." (Sunday Telegraph)
"A work of staggering scope and erudition, narrated with supreme fluency and insight, it is unquestionably the best single-volume history of the war ever written.... [Hastings] writes with a wonderfully clear, unsentimental eye and has a terrific grasp of the grand sweep and military strategy. But what makes his book a compelling read are the human stories...at the end of this gruesome, chilling but quite magnificent book, you never doubt that the war was worth fighting." (Sunday Times)
"Majestic.... Hastings shapes all the stories, almost miraculously, into a single coherent narrative." (Daily Telegraph)
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"Another Success for Max!"
Its incisive analysis and clarity of approach
Its subject matter
Carrington's narration is superb; Hastings makes a plausible case.
This is a must have book if you are a WW1 buff. If you are not, its well worth a buy.
"Holds your attention"
I was never quite sure why WW1 started but now I have a good grasp. It's well told and easy to follow
I recommend it to anyone who wants to know about the politics and not just the fighting
"Brings out the full horror!"
Were They Mad?
Not a particular character as not that sort of book but I really felt for the Belgians
Well written and very well read by Nigel Carrington. He brought just the right level of gravitas to the book
A moving book. I was shocked to realise the extent of the losses in those early battles. Some far worse than The Somme in 1916.
It was a tough lesson but mankind had to learn it the hard way. This book contrasts wonderfully the hubris, and jingoism with the pain, tragedy and waste of those first months of the Great War.
I don't understand why a book that contains so many French terms should be read by a reader who clearly has a limited knowledge of French. The book is great and the general reading is fine but this clearly wasn't the right reader for this book.
"Spectacular and detailed, moving and terrible"
This should be considered a classic text on the first world war. It has certainly changed a number of assumptions I had about the conflict and rightly so, well written and very very detailed. This is an intense listen but well worth it.
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