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The Guns of August by Barbara Wertheim…

The Guns of August (original 1962; edition 1989)

by Barbara Wertheim Tuchman

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4,653861,488 (4.27)2 / 463
Title:The Guns of August
Authors:Barbara Wertheim Tuchman
Info:Macmillan Pub Co (1989), Edition: 25 Anv, Hardcover, 16 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Guns of August by Barbara W. Tuchman (1962)


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Showing 1-5 of 86 (next | show all)
A brilliant book about the events leading to the outbreak and opening days of World War I. ( )
  ffifield | Oct 9, 2018 |
Extremely detailed explanation of the origins of WWI in German ambition for control of Europe. Blindness of planners on both sides--untested assumptions allowed to control plans and preparations. ( )
  ritaer | Oct 7, 2018 |
This review is, as others on my profile, a "dual review", i.e. covering in part two books.

The reason is that I do not look at the subject at face value- and, as I wrote in other reviews, the history of warfare (and crime history, in this case) often have a major advantage: the authors review known choices from multiple perspectives.

The first book is Barbara Tuchman's "The Guns of August", about the inception of WWI.

The other is one of the few about criminology written in Italian that didn't disappoint in its discussion about decisions-making.

As you can see, both of the books are really about decision-making and avoiding various forms of bias.

And now, the review about "The Guns of August".

WWI was the first mechanized war, bringing also on the front new weaponry that was to be characterist of the XX century.

But what was impressive was how much choices were made based upon the bias deriving from previous wars- so much that even correct information was ignored.

WWI brought about a shortening of the time available to make choices while at the same time converting logistics into an even more critical element, as you could not simply pick up from the land what you needed- spare parts, oil, etc had all to be brought.

Sounds an unusual "connecting the dots", but in reality this divergence of available timeframe between decision making and decision implementation actually became more critical with each war- including, of course, Cold War.

This was a lesson that had yet to be learned in WWII, but in reality also the war in Africa and all the mistakes in WWI and WWII organized by Winston Churchill were a painful "learning ground" that enabled the landing in Normandy.

When seen at a distance, we are inclined to over-rationalize choices made (including the wrong ones), and this happens often also in business: who would admit having made a choice on a whim?

The most interesting point of this book is actually the large quantity of background information on decisions and availability of information to the decision makers.

Anyway, if you are just interested in history per se (I am biased, as I am focused on change), it is a book still worth reading 56 years after it was published.

[Review released on 2018-08-23] ( )
1 vote aleph123 | Aug 22, 2018 |
Excerpts from my original GR review (Jan 2010):
- This WW I history was awarded the 1962 Pulitzer Prize for Non-fic... It is engagingly detailed, authoritative, and captured me right away, as I had not read a distinct WW I history before now.
- Tuchman's decision to focus on the critical first 30 days, with appropriate and very interesting discussion of the alliances..etc, leading up to it, was smart I think. The book even begins with the funeral of Edward VII of England in 1910 - the last significant royal assemblage of its kind.
- Clearly, German ambitions, stoked by perceived universal disdain, made this war inevitable. It is amazing to discover that the "Uhlans", as the contemptuous Belgians called the invaders, planned their wide right sweep through Belgium,...many years before. What the Germans did not count on in practice was the angry resistance put up by the Belgians, disunity among its generals, outrunning its supply lines, and the patriotic desperation among the French people and commanders to stop the hated foe above the Marne. The tense drama played out in defending the onslaught toward Paris is so well explained by the author.
- I really enjoyed the political-military dynamics, especially among the tentative British, and also among the disorganized and sometimes delusional French. Clearly, some able field generals were sacked, while incompetence (e.g. Sir John French of the B.E.F) was allowed to fester. Decision-making authority in Paris was shifting literally by the hour as the Germans under von Kluck aggressively moved to encircle and destroy the French army...
- It's easy to find heroes in reading about the momentous beginnings of what later was to become the trench-laden "Great Slaughter":
~ the Belgian people
~ the upstart but ill-formed Russians at Germany's back
~ the French 1st and 2nd armies, determinedly shutting the door to eastern France at Lorraine.
~ Generals Joffre and Gallieni, wary rivals who managed to coordinate a counter-attack, and neither of whom shied from taking initiative. ( )
  ThoughtPolice | Aug 10, 2018 |
A riveting account of the first month of World war I and the events leading up to it. From the waters off Scapa Flow to the Mediterranean to the Russian mobilization and the Western front, it manages to pack a lot in its pages. ( )
  charlie68 | May 14, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 86 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Barbara W. Tuchmanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lee, JohnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Massie, Robert K.Forewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
May, NadiaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The human heart is the starting point of all matters pertaining to war.
--Marechal de Saxe
Reveries on the Art of War (Preface), 1732

The terrible Ifs accumulate.
--Winston Churchill
The World Crisis, Vol. I, Chap. XI
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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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345476093, Mass Market Paperback)

"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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:08 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

A Pulitzer Prize-winning recreation of the powderkeg that was Europe during the crucial first thirty days of World War I traces the actions of statesmen and patriots alike in Berlin, London, St. Petersburg, and Paris.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 15 descriptions

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