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

Barbara W. Tuchman
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 8 1994 Modern Library 100 Best Nonfiction Books
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

Frequently Bought Together

The Guns of August: The Outbreak of World War I; Barbara W. Tuchman's Great War Series + The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890-1914; Barbara W. Tuchman's Great War Series + The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914
Price For All Three: CDN$ 49.32

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Review

“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 Paperback edition.

From the Publisher

To many people, W.W.I seems like ancient history. To me, it is the most fascinating of wars. It is when the modern world began, or, in Barbara Tuchman's opinion, when the 19th Century ended. My late Great Uncle Jimmy, a Brit, joined the Army at the age of 16 by lying that he was 18 after being encouraged to do so by a recruiter. Where did they send him? To Ireland, to train horses for the cavalry! This was the same war that saw the debut of the airplane, submarine, tank, poison gas, machine gun, flamethrower, and hand grenade!

In this Pulitzer Prize-winning history, Tuchman writes about the turning point of the year 1914--the month leading up to the war and the first month of the war. 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 is masterful at portraying this abrupt change from 19th to 20th Century. And how she manages to make the story utterly suspenseful, when we already know the outcome, is the mark of a great writer, and a classic volume of history.

Doug Grad, Editor

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
SO GORGEOUS WAS THE SPECTACLE ON THE MAY morning of 1910 when nine kings rode in the funeral of Edward VII of England that the crowd, waiting in hushed and black-clad awe, could not keep back gasps of admiration. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 30 days that changed the world... Jan. 25 2004
Format:Paperback
Barbara Tuchman's account of the outbreak of the First World War is the definitive book on the subject. From the political crises and entangling alliances that characterized Europe in 1914 to the "damn fool thing in the Balkans" that set the war machines in motion, Tuchman provides insight and clarity to a complex situation.
Tuchman goes beyond the superfluous details of the alliances and actions which brought the war about to bring about a deeper understanding of the prevailing attitudes in each country. She explains the German approach through the expansionist philosophy of Hegel and Nietzsche, along with the ideas of Clausewitz on how to fight a war and deal with conquered enemies. Also the political culture in France (where government was rapidly changing, especially with regards to mandatory military service), and the English policy of sending only volunteers abroad, and only when enough replacements could be brought back from remote outposts all over the world. These and many other meticulously resarched details provide a fascinating depth to the story.
Also very interesting are the studies in character of the main players in the drama of August 1914. Joffre, French, von Kluck, and the German Kaiser (among many others) are studied in detail, in an effort to understand the decisions each made through the first month of the war. To her credit, Tuchman doesn't place thoughts in anyone's head; reasons for action are given in the individual's own words (as recorded in journals or official histories), or when the reason is not clear, Tuchman gives a number of possible answers puctuated by the fact that we can't be sure exactly what anyone was thinking.
This is a brilliant book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A neccessary book for the collector July 23 2006
By C. J. Thompson TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
My review title says it all. If you are a serious reader of world war one histories then this book needs to be on your shelf. Occasionally (and just occasionally) the tactical descriptions of various combat encounters get a little dry but the first part of the book dealing with the outbreak of the war is one of the best going. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars why did so many have to die? Dec 29 2002
Format:Paperback
I finished the book with great sadness for the men who died in this war. For the millions on both sides lead to their deaths by incompetent generals, who didn't understand that technology had changed warfare since the prussian-franco war. Hungry and without ammo to fight because their supply lines from the taxpayers who reluctantly footed the bills throughout the whole system where the stupid if not utterly corrupt ruled. ("now boys don't steal anything") I wholeheartedly agreed with the author who wrote on the last page, "when at last it was over, the war had many diverse results and one dominat one transcended all others, disillusionment." Especially knowing that we are in many ways the disillusioned and cynical result of those lost generations who fought and died in Flanders field. The writing is excellent, the topic important and riveting even now 90 years after the event. You find yourself unable to put down the book, or to cease thinking about the issues, which is exactly what a superb author like Ms. Tuchman intended when she struggled to write the book for us, her readers. It is one of those often recommended books that I simply didn't get around to reading, now I wish I had done so years ago, given myself more time to read more about WWI. After all, that is the measure of a good book, one that inspires you to follow the author's footsteps and read some of her research material, immerse yourself in more tellings of the story she introduced you to. Thanks Ms. Tuchman. (d. 1989)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ce livre m'a fasciné ! J'y ai appris beaucoup ! Jan. 16 2013
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Un excellent livre, très bien écrit, on a l'impression de vivre ce mois d'août comme si on y était. Les caractères des principaux acteurs, les lieux, les processus de prises de décision y sont décrits avec détail et suffisamment d'émotion pour en faire un récit captivant. Je suis ressortie de cette lecture avec un sentiment d'enrichissement personnel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required Reading May 21 2008
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is easily the best book I have ever read. Tuchman writes so well that even the most prose averse individuals can enjoy her history lesson.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
I have given this great book only 4 stars instead of its deserved 5 stars in order to register my level of enjoyment rather than my rating of its absolute merit. I was very fascinated by the build up to the war and can't wait to read about this aspect in more detail in her prequel, The Proud Tower. Tuchman explores the pre-war strategic planning by both rivals Germany and France of marching through Belgium. I did not know so much forethought had gone into the invasion of Belgium nor the eventual historic struggle put up by the Belgians. I also found the discussion of various pre-war militaristic ideological witings enlightening and found their relation to Germany's later Nazi ideology chilling. I was previously unaware that the French had exploited Bergson's notion of elan for militaristic ends. I was also intrigued by other behind the scenes maneuvers and the way in which non-combatants were caught up in the war. What lowered my enjoyment of the book was the long passages about specific troop maneuvers and debates about these maneuvers between the various generals and military strategists--its just a matter of personal preference but I was bored by some of the detail of this aspect of the war. Great book but large sections not exactly to my taste--my shortcoming --not Tuchman's.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars WW I
100 years already...
Published 10 days ago by Ting-sheng Lin
5.0 out of 5 stars A well written, detailed book with lots of historical ...
A well written , detailed book with lots of historical facts which are not known on this continent . One I shall remember: The Kaiser should have listened to Bismarck .
Published 25 days ago by Josef Valler
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read.
I found the book a good read with a good introduction the opening stages of WW1. At times I found it hard to follow with all the locations it talks about. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Don Crawford
5.0 out of 5 stars Historical
Absolutely a MUST read for anyone interested in politics or history.
What is happening today with Russia and the Ukraine is like a repeat
of August 1914. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Michael R. Moulder
2.0 out of 5 stars Distorted perspective
While Tuchman's book is certainly very readable it views the outbreak of WWI through the lens of WWII. Max Hasting's work does the same. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Alfredo Schulte-Bockholt
5.0 out of 5 stars it appears incompetence reinforced by courage was the order of the...
Russia forced Germany to move 2 Corps from the Western to the Eastern front. The additional German trod arrived to late to assist in the Russian Defeat, but their loss on the... Read more
Published 8 months ago by J. Thompson
5.0 out of 5 stars The Great war and its Awful Secrets
I haven't read any of Barbara Tuchman's books. My Dad fought in the War and wouldn't talk about it. I hope this book tells me what he went through
Published 12 months ago by JOANWW
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
Yes,

It is always a pleasure to shop with Amazon; On Time , As Described in good condition ; and also fair prices. Read more
Published on May 9 2012 by James Squires
5.0 out of 5 stars Guns of August amazing
This book is so revealing and sets the onset of the First World War in amazing context. I never realised how the situation in Europe was simmering just waiting to boil over. Read more
Published on April 16 2012 by Susana Bear River
5.0 out of 5 stars Peaceniks and pantywaists should read this
I see this is well reviewed and probably for the reason that this is a very well researched and peicing together of the events that brought about the first world war and an even... Read more
Published on March 2 2012 by Rick M. Pilotte
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