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The Guns of August: The Pulitzer…

The Guns of August: The Pulitzer Prize-Winning Classic about the Outbreak… (original 1962; edition 2004)

by Barbara Wertheim Tuchman

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3,750631,388 (4.3)2 / 420
Title:The Guns of August: The Pulitzer Prize-Winning Classic about the Outbreak of World War I
Authors:Barbara Wertheim Tuchman
Info:Presidio Press (2004), Editie: Reprint, Mass Market Paperback, 640 pagina's
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The Guns of August by Barbara W. Tuchman (1962)


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Showing 1-5 of 62 (next | show all)
If a reader would like to know more about the beginning of World War I, this book is a wonderful starting point. I also recommend that one read it with a map of Europe circa 1914 handy, so that it is easier to track the progress of the story’s belligerents.

The Guns of August focuses on the people most intimately connected to the military aspects of the war: generals, monarchs, and an occasional politician.

The author peppers the (generally chronological) account with personal stories and primary source quotations, skillfully enlivening dry descriptions of troop movements and bureaucratic politics. There are moments of editorializing, but the author is sympathetic to the plight of all those who were caught up in the war. Even the men considered villains by general historical consensus are presented without harsh judgment.

The state and actions of Great Britain, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Russia, and Turkey are all examined in some detail over the course of the text. However, France is the rightful focus of the author’s attention.
( )
  wishanem | Jan 27, 2015 |
The author's premise is that the battle at the Marne, during 1914, set the course of history for the 20th century. German defeat and subsequent devolution into trench war with attendant involvement by many nations of the world meant that victory was only a temporary thing...that WWII resulted with the subsequent Cold War....all because of some commanders made bad decisions in August 1914. As Tuchman's pace setting work, it's very detailed and refers to places and things too intricate for the average reader. Perhaps, a student of WWI might enjoy it more. ( )
  buffalogr | Jan 2, 2015 |
The Guns of August (1962) is the second book I've read by Barbara Tuchman, after "A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century." The book focuses on the immediate prelude to the first World War, followed by a detailed description of the events of the first 30 days, leading up to the Battle on the Marne. Tuchman's emphasis is on the military leaders and their decisions- the experiences of soldiers and common people is only described at a very high level. Even the manner in which warfare was conducted on the ground- trenches, weapons, tactics- is not discussed, except for a few scant details about the use of artillery. In essence, this is a book about big military and political decisions and the quirks of the people who made them. "The Guns of August" is not concerned with details.

After reading "A Distant Mirror," I found "The Guns of August" to be a let-down. Much of the reason is that I didn't learn nearly as much from the latter book. In part, this may be due to my greater familiarity with the early 20th century (and its greater similarity to the present). But I cannot believe that's the main reason. Despite the fact that it was only a century ago, the early 20th century featured a very different political and cultural mood from modern times- perhaps not as alien as that of the 1300s, but still alien enough to make the information completely novel to me. And I am no scholar of military history- I would have appreciated a description of how war was fought in the 1910s, and how this differed from the 1870s and from the 1940s.

Surprisingly, Tuchman all but omits some critical points, such as the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand that started the war. I'm not sure if this omission is because, as a political rather than military event, it is not aligned with her book's emphasis, or if she (wrongly) assumes that all of her readers will already be so familiar with the details that no description is necessary. Perhaps for readers in 1962, the year of the book's publication, this was more true than it is in 2014, over 50 years later.

If you have a specific interest in the military decisions that largely determined the course of World War I (and the role that individual military leaders' personalities played in shaping the course of human history), then "The Guns for August" is right for you. However, if you're looking for a more well-rounded look at life in a tumultuous time, I would recommend that you try "A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century" instead. ( )
  jrissman | Dec 18, 2014 |
Classic Tuchman covering the run up and critical first month of the Great War. It reviews the Schlieffen plan, and how it was thwarted by such small decisions. Amazing that a few minor blunders could have made The Great war a small affair, relatively speaking. Another turning point in history, well documented. ( )
  cyclops1771 | Nov 12, 2014 |
The amount of meticulous research Tuchman put into this book is astounding, but I just couldn't get into it. She puts so much detail into the individual battles and that's just not something I can get interested in--those parts were boring me to sleep (literally). I found myself skimming a lot of it already, and then reading it became a chore. If you're interested in detailed battles, you'll love this book. ( )
  Heather_BTC | Oct 6, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 62 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Barbara W. Tuchmanprimary authorall 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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:55:09 -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: how the war started, why, and why it could have been stopped but wasn't.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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