The Guns of August: The Outbreak of World War I; Barbara W. Tuchman's Great War Series

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Random House Publishing Group, Jul 22, 2009 - History - 608 pages
8 Reviews
Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best nonfiction books of all time

The Proud Tower, the Pulitzer Prize–winning The Guns of August, and The Zimmerman Telegram comprise Barbara W. Tuchman’s classic histories of the First World War era

In this landmark, Pulitzer Prize–winning account, renowned historian Barbara W. Tuchman re-creates the first month of World War I: thirty days in the summer of 1914 that determined the course of the conflict, the century, and ultimately our present world. Beginning with the funeral of Edward VII, Tuchman traces each step that led to the inevitable clash. And inevitable it was, with all sides plotting their war for a generation. Dizzyingly comprehensive and spectacularly portrayed with her famous talent for evoking the characters of the war’s key players, Tuchman’s magnum opus is a classic for the ages.
 
Praise for The Guns of August
 
“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.’”Newsweek
 
“More dramatic than fiction . . . a magnificent narrative—beautifully organized, elegantly phrased, skillfully paced and sustained.”Chicago Tribune
 
“A fine demonstration that with sufficient art rather specialized history can be raised to the level of literature.”The New York Times
 
“[The Guns of August] has a vitality that transcends its narrative virtues, which are considerable, and its feel for characterizations, which is excellent.”The Wall Street Journal


From the Trade Paperback edition.
 

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This is the third in the series of random texts recommended by Entertainment Weekly magazine for those suffering from Downton Abbey withdrawal. It comes with high accolades. It is cited as the “favorite novel of JFK.,” and as one of the finest pieces of history ever written. I can see why. But it is too name-and-place intensive to make it either digestible or even pleasurable as a reading experience. As a recollection of the first month only of WWI, it IS an incredible tour-de-force: incisive, insightful. Her command of the people seems omniscient, frightening, even. Overpowering, shall we say? The author writes as though she had been there, standing side by side with the kings, Czars, generals, and ministers of state, reporting their most minute thoughts, prejudices, avarices, strengths, and weaknesses. I found it very overwhelming. I have fancied myself a student of history. The depths of her story put my shallow understanding to shame, and made this book very difficult to read.
This is not the fault of the text, but my own shortcoming as a reader. On a positive note, the book gave me further insights into what great idiots the whole of humankind is made by the on-going body politic and those we elect to make political decisions that affect us and the country in which we live.
In particular, I was appalled by the expose into the mindset of the German people, whose Teutonic roots of savagery rose to the surface as a people intent on subjugating the entire world to their superior existence. I found this expose very frightening, and wonder what hubris awaits to further arise and create bedlam and chaos for earth?
Let me put the amount of detail in this novel into perspective for you. If this author could so handily write 525 pages about only the first thirty days of a four-year war, it follows that she could write FIFTY more 500 page books fo each of the warring months to follow, or about 25,000 pages. Somehow, I’m sure she could have written more, although the shame and disgust I felt after reading about the atrocities in the first month would preclude me from reading any of them. **** = Four Stars.
 

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Great book to read...1914...2014 will be here beofre you know it....hopefully we have learned from it

Contents

A Funeral
1
Let the Last Man on the Right Brush
21
The Shadow of Sedan
34
A Single British Soldier
53
The Russian Steam Roller
67
Berlin
87
Paris and London
100
Ultimatum in Brussels
117
The Cossacks Are Coming
312
Tannenberg
344
The Flames of Louvain
368
Blue Water Blockade and the Great Neutral
386
Retreat
406
The Front Is Paris
444
21
470
Gentlemen We Will Fight on the Marne
491

Home Before the Leaves Fall
133
BATTLE
146
Goeben An Enemy Then Flying
161
Liège and Alsace
191
BEF to the Continent
228
Sambre et Meuse
243
Lorraine Ardennes Charleroi Mons
273
Afterword
518
Notes
541
34
543
100
549
191
556
Index
577
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About the author (2009)

Barbara W. Tuchman (1912–1989) achieved prominence as a historian with The Zimmermann Telegram and international fame with The Guns of August—a huge bestseller and winner of the Pulitzer Prize. Her other works include Bible and Sword, The Proud Tower, Stilwell and the American Experience in China (for which Tuchman was awarded a second Pulitzer Prize), Notes from China, A Distant Mirror, Practicing History, The March of Folly, and The First Salute.


From the Paperback edition.

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