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The Guns of August: The Outbreak of World War I; Barbara W. Tuchman's Great War Series Paperback – Mar 8 1994
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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.’”—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
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
An absolute classic. Anyone who has even the slightest interest in the opening events of the Great War will enjoy this book immensely.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
It is okay to read Barbara Tuchman's books out of the order in which they were written. If you are starting here you definitely missed "Bible and Sword England and Palestine... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Bernie
I really enjoy reading anything about WW I and this book I found to be very well written and easy to read...I plan to re-read it several more times as I enjoyed it that much.Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
I think the first question that many people might ask when considering this book is why read about a war that happened over a century ago? Read morePublished 9 months ago by marsha l. reid
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