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.
Call anytime(888) 283-5051
 >   > 
The Pity of War: Explaining World War One | [Niall Ferguson]

The Pity of War: Explaining World War One

In The Pity of War, Niall Ferguson makes a simple and provocative argument: that the human atrocity known as the Great War was entirely England's fault. Britain, according to Ferguson, entered into war based on nave assumptions of German aims-and England's entry into the war transformed a Continental conflict into a world war, which they then badly mishandled, necessitating American involvement.
Regular Price:$29.95
  • 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

In The Pity of War, Niall Ferguson makes a simple and provocative argument: that the human atrocity known as the Great War was entirely England's fault. Britain, according to Ferguson, entered into war based on nave assumptions of German aims-and England's entry into the war transformed a Continental conflict into a world war, which they then badly mishandled, necessitating American involvement. The war was not inevitable, Ferguson argues, but rather the result of the mistaken decisions of individuals who would later claim to have been in the grip of huge impersonal forces. That the war was wicked, horrific, inhuman, is memorialized in part by the poetry of men like Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, but also by cold statistics.

More British soldiers were killed in the first day of the Battle of the Somme than Americans in the Vietnam War; indeed, the total British fatalities in that single battle-some 420,000-exceeds the entire American fatalities for both World Wars. And yet, as Ferguson writes, while the war itself was a disastrous folly, the great majority of men who fought it did so with enthusiasm. Ferguson vividly brings back to life this terrifying period, not through dry citation of chronological chapter and verse but through a series of brilliant chapters focusing on key ways in which we now view the First World War.

For anyone wanting to understand why wars are fought, why men are willing to fight them, and why the world is as it is today, there is no sharper nor more stimulating guide than Niall Ferguson's The Pity of War.

©2000 Niall Ferguson; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"This is analytical history at its mordant best. With all its other merits, The Pity of War is also a work of grace and feeling." (The Economist)

"[Niall Ferguson is] the most talked-about British historian of his generation." (The New York Times)

Download the accompanying reference guide.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (146 )
5 star
 (41)
4 star
 (43)
3 star
 (36)
2 star
 (17)
1 star
 (9)
Overall
3.9 (84 )
5 star
 (29)
4 star
 (28)
3 star
 (17)
2 star
 (6)
1 star
 (4)
Story
4.0 (85 )
5 star
 (31)
4 star
 (33)
3 star
 (11)
2 star
 (7)
1 star
 (3)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Michael Sydney, Australia 11-15-10
    Michael Sydney, Australia 11-15-10 Member Since 2007

    Classics, history, historical fiction, marketing, Napoleonic stuff and of course 'Boys own Adventure'. This is my bent. Occasional self help as well.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    133
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    360
    166
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    18
    0
    Overall
    "Excellent study"

    If you are into the First World War, or just interested in the causes of war then this book is a must. It is also an excellent study of the 20 Century. History does tend to repeat itself, and to hear what is reported to be a truth of the war, open my eyes to the lesser noble aspects that I grew up thinking the war was. We all hear about the atrocities of the Second World War, but perhaps on a lesser level the First World War had its share, committed by all sides. Britain comes out of this looking rather shabby, Germany, the cause of its own nightmare with the Nazis and even the USA is shown to be foolish. A great read.

    13 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Dunedin, FL, United States 10-23-11
    David Dunedin, FL, United States 10-23-11 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    242
    5
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    5
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A true history of the reason for war."

    A long book, and a little dry, but a great history for the reasons for WWI. He is not an appologist for either side, like most authors. He just gives you the facts. Downloading the PDF is must for this book, it is 29 pages! Not a bbok for those looking for a light listen. I got this title because of his book, "The Assent of Money" and this did not disappoint.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kyle poway, CA, United States 08-25-11
    Kyle poway, CA, United States 08-25-11 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    19
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    23
    13
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Too Detailed"

    I am a huge fan of Niall Ferguson, but this is too much. Admittedly, I was looking for a history of World War I, not book on the economic questions related to WWI, but this is too weighed down with statistics for audio.

    6 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    deborah Palm Coast, FL, United States 10-05-11
    deborah Palm Coast, FL, United States 10-05-11 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    117
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    110
    42
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    17
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Textbook, not a novel"

    Though narrated by the great Graeme Malcolm of the Hamish Macbeth character in MC Beaton Highlands mysteries, have no illusions that Pity of War has any narrative. It is strictly a textbook spoken aloud, with tables and statistics. It is long, dry, and difficult to follow for the average listener. This book should remain a bible of a graduate history course, not offered to audiophiles looking for characters studies.

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kimra Tuscola, TX, United States 09-28-11
    Kimra Tuscola, TX, United States 09-28-11 Member Since 2010

    My husband & I share the account. Anything on history is his read. I'm more into fiction/zombie & apocalyptic reads.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    29
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    76
    43
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The Pity of War"

    I was disappointed in the book. I really had higher expectations based upon a number of the reviews I read here. Nevertheless I did learn some things from the listen about the events around WWI so it was worth the time.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-5 of 5 results
Sort by:
  • Marcus
    London, United Kingdom
    2/20/11
    Overall
    "Disjointed history"

    I think Ferguson is an engaging and provocative historian but he tries too hard to be different in this book and it comes across as a messy listen. So much has been written about WW1 that Ferguson is up against it to try and say anything new. He tries two tactics. He firstly plays to one of his strengths, the importance of finance in history, which I don't fine that interesting. The other is trying to counter perceived notions about the war. For example that that Germany in the last years of the war was starving at home and that this undermine the army, not the case says Fergunson. He blames the leadership for the defeat. Lots of complicated arguments which don't help for a good narrative

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    Kent UK
    4/12/12
    Overall
    "A fine book but better to read than listen to it"

    This is a fine and very thought provoking book. You dont have to agree with Niall Ferguson's views to enjoy it, and it does give you a different and fresh perspective of many aspects of WW 1. The economic analysis a lot more interesting - and convincing - than the political, which lacks realism in my view eg on whether it would have been to the benefit of the UK to stay out of the war. There are some excellent reviews on Amazon.

    But it is better to read it than listen to it. I say this for three reasons: first it is a fact-dense, closely argued analysis and consequently difficult to listen to and keep the thread - you really have to concentrate; second, frequent reference is made to tables and charts "from the downloadable pdf file", which was presumably on the original audio CD, and lack of access to this material does hamper understanding; third the narration is very poor - disjointed, lacking variation in tone and totally devoid of any colour - which makes the challenge of concentrating that much greater.

    I intend to get hold of a second hand copy as it is worth re-reading. That's what I would recommend to anyone thinking of buying the audiobook.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Mary
    Brighton,UK
    8/21/11
    Overall
    "Mechanical reading of a fantastic author"

    I had read some of this writer's work before and I was excited to find out his take on the First World War. Instead I had a mechanical, bored reading of what seemed a good book. Since it is a long book I have decided to use a Kindle instead. My only disappointment for over a year of being with Audible !

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • David
    Leighton Buzzard, United Kingdom
    8/12/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Thorough but dry analysis read ponderously"

    I really wanted to like this book and when I could get past the ponderous narration I found some sections really engrossing but large parts of it were very dry and laboured the points somewhat.

    My main problem was with Graeme Malcolm's delivery which, while not terrible, was very slow paced and involved some improbably long and ill-placed pauses. This made some of the drier parts of the book really drag.

    The book was at its best when examining the causes of the war, and particularly German war aims and willingness for war, and when looking at why the soldiers continued to fight, and particularly why they stopped fighting. The sections on the economics of war, on the other hand, dragged on almost indefinitely and while undoubtedly worthy in academic terms did not engage the more casual listener.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Jonathan
    Windsor, United Kingdom
    6/28/12
    Overall
    "Dull"

    I love military history but the narration on this sends you to sleep. Feels like an university lecturer reading from the page as opposed to someone passionate about what they are talking about. Shame, because the subject matter and some of the content is excellent

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-5 of 5 results

    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.