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Catastrophe: Volume Two: Europe Goes to War 1914 | [Max Hastings]

Catastrophe: Volume Two: Europe Goes to War 1914

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

"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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  • Constable Elbow
    Europe
    6/10/14
    Overall
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    "Totally Authoritative Summary."

    I had read and thoroughly enjoyed this excellent book but wanted to mull it over so got the narrated version as a way of re-reading but from a slightly different perspective; it struck me that some aspects of the text stand out more when it's read aloud - perhaps oddly in this case,I found the writing quite funny in places although never lacking in sensitivity to the subject matter. It's wonderful how the writer maintains a strong narrative drive while also providing lots of illuminating character sketches and excerpts from letters and memoirs. He also addresses common misconceptions, for example about the role of The B.E.F., with balance and clarity. After reading and now listening to this book, I feel I begin to grasp what was going on in 1914.

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