Denise Hogan, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by Denise Hogan)
An absolutely fascinating account of the lead-up to to WWI. With all the advantages of hindsight and a wry, blunt assessment of the personalities of players large and small, the author leads us through the mistakes, miscalculations, hubris and courage that started this war and turned it into the years-long slogging trench war that it became.
It's a gripping tale, chock full of oh-so-very-human characters from all sides. The 'what ifs' of this action or that decision abound. I have to admit that for a good way through the book I couldn't shake the idea that the Western powers were in deep, deep trouble. Surely Germany, with its superior planning, manpower and early advantages was going to win. No spoiler here - we all know how it turned out but Tuchman effectively sucks us into the now of the early 20th century and sweeps us along on a grand unfolding saga.
We're introduced to unlikely heroes and cement-footed commanders. And Maps. I do love a book with maps...troop placements...strategic planning... For someone who had never really thought about how exactly one fights a war, i.e., where do you put your troops?, and how many?, how to keep supply lines open and accessible? how in an age before satellites and air reconnaissance do you know what the enemy is doing?, this was an eye-opener.
Dances With Trout, December 2, 2009 (view all comments by Dances With Trout)
A FABULOUS book by one of my favorite historians. Easily on my "Lifetime Top 20 Books" list. Very important in helping to understand not just the roots of World War I, but for how and why nations go to war in general. I read it perhaps 30 years ago and find myself at Powell's Online buying another copy so I can read it again.
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gwcrews, August 24, 2006 (view all comments by gwcrews)
This is a HORRIBLE book! I had to read it for AP European History, but I tend to like books that teachers require you to read. However, this one was an over-the-top detailed description of the first month of WWI. It seriously will take you a month if you read a chapter a day, and the chapters are extremely long and boring. Oftentime, she delves into pointless military tactics that she assumes you already know. I love history; don't get me wrong! But told through this woman's eyes, history is a bunch of boring facts that somehow conclude to something she sometimes states explicitly. DON'T READ THIS BOOK!!!!!!!!
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"A brilliant piece of military history which proves up to the hilt the force of Winston Churchill's statement that the first month of World War I was 'a drama never surpassed.' A writer with an impeccable sense of telling detail, Mrs. Tuchman is able to evoke both the enormous pattern of the tragedy and the minutiae which make it human."
by The New York Times,
"Fascinating . . . One of the finest works of history written . . . A splendid and glittering performance."
by Chicago Tribune,
"More dramatic than fiction. . . a magnificent narrative . . . elegantly phrased, skillfully paced and sustained . . . The product of painstaking and sophisticated research."
by San Francisco Chronicle,
"A beautifully orgnanized, compelling narrative."
by The Christian Science Monitor,
"An epic never flagging in suspense . . . It seemed hardly possible that anything new of significance could be said about the prelude to and the first month of World War I. But this is exactly what Mrs. Tuchman has succeeded in doing . . . by transforming the drama's protagonists as well as its immense supporting cast, from half-legendary and half shadowy figures into full-dimensional, believable persons."
by The Wall Street Journal,
"Excellent. . . [The Guns of August] has a vitality that transcends its narrative virtues."
"More dramtatic than fiction...THE GUNS OF AUGUST is a magnificent narrative--beautifully organized, elegantly phrased, skillfully paced and sustained....The product of painstaking and sophisticated research."
Historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Barbara Tuchman has brought to life again the people and events that led up to Worl War I. With attention to fascinating detail, and an intense knowledge of her subject and its characters, Ms. Tuchman reveals, for the first time, just how the war started, why, and why it could have been stopped but wasn't. A classic historical survey of a time and a people we all need to know more about, THE GUNS OF AUGUST will not be forgotten.
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