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The Guns of August | [Barbara W. Tuchman]

The Guns of August

In this Pulitzer Prize-winning classic, historian Barbara Tuchman brings to life the people and events that led up to World War I. This was the last gasp of the Gilded Age, of Kings and Kaisers and Czars, of pointed or plumed hats, colored uniforms, and all the pomp and romance that went along with war. How quickly it all changed...and how horrible it became.
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Publisher's Summary

In this Pulitzer Prize-winning classic, historian Barbara Tuchman brings to life the people and events that led up to World War I. This was the last gasp of the Gilded Age, of Kings and Kaisers and Czars, of pointed or plumed hats, colored uniforms, and all the pomp and romance that went along with war. How quickly it all changed...and how horrible it became.

Tuchman masterfully portrays this transition from 19th to 20th Century, focusing on the turning point in the year 1914: the month leading up to the war and the first month of the war. With fine attention to detail, she reveals how and why the war started, and why it could have been stopped but wasn't, managing to make the story utterly suspenseful even when we already know the outcome.

©1990 Dr. Lester Tuchman; (P)2005 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"More dramatic than fiction...a magnificent narrative¿beautifully organized, elegantly phrased, skillfully paced...The product of painstaking and sophisticated research." (Chicago Tribune)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (1529 )
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4.1 (929 )
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Performance
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  •  
    M. Angelo Juneau, Alaska USA 05-19-14
    M. Angelo Juneau, Alaska USA 05-19-14
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    "Details made enjoyable!"
    What made the experience of listening to The Guns of August the most enjoyable?

    Guns of August is extraordinarily researched and detailed. It amazed me how so much information could be written in such a way that it is more like a complex and well told story. Despite the minute details, this is probably the most impressive compendium explaining why the war that nobody wanted became the war that everyone fought.


    Which character – as performed by Nadia May – was your favorite?

    Nadia May did a wonderful job of presenting this work audibly.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Cheek jcheek17 05-07-14
    J. Cheek jcheek17 05-07-14 Member Since 2012

    jcheek17

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    "Awesome Book. Narraration is Terrible!"
    Would you try another book from Barbara W. Tuchman and/or Nadia May?

    I've listened to a lot of war/history audiobooks. This is the absolute worst narration of any of them. A shrill, British, female voice is absolutely NOT the right choice for narrating this great WW1 book. I almost had to stop listening at several points during the book because it was so hard to listen to.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Nadia May’s performances?

    No


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James COLORADO SPRINGS, CO, United States 04-10-14
    James COLORADO SPRINGS, CO, United States 04-10-14 Member Since 2010

    Jim Henderson

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    "Great explanation of early WWI"

    Though I had read other books on WWI, I hadn't read this classic. It gave me a much better understanding of the moves in early WWI and the mindsets behind them. I feel I know the war much better than I had. The book was interesting, with a good feel for characters.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    smarmer Los Angeles, CA USA 04-06-14
    smarmer Los Angeles, CA USA 04-06-14 Member Since 2011

    smarmer

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    "A classic definitely worth listening to."
    Any additional comments?

    This is the classic introduction to World War One. It goes over the ramp-up to the war fairly lightly, though the characterizations of the main people, such as the Kaiser, the Kings of England, the Tsar, and the Emperor as well as the diplomats and generals are vivid.

    The narration of the first month of the war is outstanding. Tuchman is a superb writer and the book has a wonderful literary quality. Her turns of phrase are amazing and add to the page-turning quality.

    I found Nadia May to be a very good narrator. Occasionally her efforts to affect the accents of the individuals whom she is quoting to be clumsy, but I liked her voice and her general style. I often like to listen at 1.25 or 1.5 speed but her narration did not permit this. Nevertheless it was a pleasure to listen at regular speed.

    Critics claim that Tuchman takes some liberties with facts, some of which were known at the time of her writing and others to be discovered only in more recent years. Perhaps that is true but for me it is something that remains to be seen as I make my way through all the Audible books currently available about World War One.

    In the mean time, no one should hesitate to listen to this one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diane Walter 03-12-14

    Boomer-type who loves science, especially physics and cosmology.

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    "Fascinating account of first month of WWI"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    It is a fascinating story, excellently written and well-researched.


    Any additional comments?

    I'm not at all a war buff, and I bought this book only because it was on sale and I thought I'd learn a little history. I was completely bowled over by it. Tuchman did a thorough job researching myriad historical details, weaving them into a coherent and fascinating story of the events leading up to WWI and the first few weeks of the war. I was expecting it to be a little dry and a little dull. I was not expecting to marathon-listen, which is what I ended up doing. The narration was flawless, the story was fascinating. I can't recommend this book enough. I've added more of Tuchman's works to my wish list. If Audible had been around when I was in high school, I might have become a history major.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Acteon Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 11-28-13
    Acteon Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 11-28-13

    Acteon

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    "Gripping and illuminating"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Guns of August to be better than the print version?

    Better or not I don't know, but I am extremely grateful to have had this audio edition.


    What about Nadia May’s performance did you like?

    I give it 5 stars only because I prefer to be generous in my ratings. On the whole her reading is excellent, but it is slightly marred by the attempts to give quoted passages a French or German accent (this is a practice I find pointless and irritating, except possibly when a foreigner actually spoke in English and not in his/her own language; here the imitation accents are not too badly done, as Nadia May does at least know French and German rather well). The pronunciation of French and German names are on the whole good (more than one can say for many audiobooks), though occasionally imperfect (for instance, the final 's' in Jaurès is not silent, and Lanrezac should not sound as if it were written 'Lanrézac'). In general, foreign names represent one of the greatest problems with audiobooks: we cannot see how they are written, and often they are incomprehensible if we don't know the name or the corresponding language. I repeat here my suggestion of having a pdf supplement; another possibility is for the reader to spell out a foreign name at its first appearance.


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

    Yes, I didn't want to stop listening.


    Any additional comments?

    One might think, as I did myself, that a thick book recounting the events of the first few weeks of World War I is of somewhat limited scope for the general reader with no special interest in this war. After listening, I have changed my mind. The book not only vividly brings to life the events and the protagonists but also gives a clear understanding of how the unspeakable horror of the four year trench warfare came about. The book in fact illuminates not only the war but the entire history of the 20th century, as well as the nature of war itself.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    tom Fresno, CA United States 07-17-13
    tom Fresno, CA United States 07-17-13

    I'm an RN at a small rural hospital in Central California. I spend a fair amount of time behind the wheel and love having stories read to me. I do a lot of reading aloud to my kids.

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    "Tough to follow without maps"
    What did you love best about The Guns of August?

    I've read a few of Tuchman's decades ago. My favorite was Stillwell and the American Experience in China. Never tried Guns before and it's probably a swell book if you're reading a book.

    If you're taking a long drive and trying to keep a mental map of Europe and various battle fronts and river systems in place, it's a little tricky. As a paper book, I'm sure it's swell. As an audio book for a quiet evening with a good glass of something and plenty of maps spread out it's probably a great deal of fun as well. It just didn't work for my limited purpose which is staying amused as I drive 90 miles to and from work.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brandon SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA, United States 06-29-13
    Brandon SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA, United States 06-29-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Best History of August 1914 Ever Written"

    This was the work that cemented Barbara Tuchman's reputation as a world-class historian, it is political, diplomatic, and military history at its best. In great detail, Tuchman relays and connects the diverse political and social forces at work in August 1914 and how the assassination of the Austrian Archduke set off a powder keg that ignited the world into war. As she demonstrated in another phenomenal work, The Proud Tower, Tuchman had a deep understanding of the social, cultural, and political forces at work in the world on the eve of the Great War and this depth of understanding and knowledge shines through in this classic work. But after hostilities begin, she demonstrates that she is more than a great social and cultural historian, she proves to be the equal of any military historian. The movement of armies, early skirmishes, and the desperation of the defense of France are retold with all the suspense one may have felt watching them in real time. The worst part about this book is that it ended with the closing days of August, leaving you wishing she had continued for another 10,000 pages to cover the entire war; though, I suppose, that would be asking a bit much. If you only listen to one book on the great war, this should be it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Howie Calgary, AB, Canada 05-21-13
    Howie Calgary, AB, Canada 05-21-13 Member Since 2011

    History, historical fiction and mysteries are my faves, but a fan of all genres.

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    "Must read to understand WW1....IMO"

    Follow this up with All Quiet on the Western Front and it will give you a very good perspective on the tragedy that was WW1.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Champlin Santa Clarita, CA 02-18-13
    J. Champlin Santa Clarita, CA 02-18-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Nadia May is very good"
    What did you love best about The Guns of August?

    Nadia May doesn't miss a note or a word, and through effective use of tonality and accents, keeps me tuned in to the story. Very educational.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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