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Posted May 25, 2010
This is a serious, scholarly book about the beginning of WWI. It is written as a "big picture" : a lot of high diplomacy, geopolitics and large scale army movements . Perfect for an armchair general, but somewhat difficult for rest of us - civilian schpaks. Nevertheless, it gives a general reader like myself a very distinct "feel" of the time : including incredible misconceptions and mis-forecasts of all participants about the coming war , madness of kings and field-marshalls and common folks too, the devastation, and the feeling that the worst is yet to come. One criticism is lack of really comprehensive maps, the authors maps are realy schematic and the editors should consider additional ones to help the people reading the book 100 years after the events understand them better.
I grade the books as Buy and Keep (BK), Read Library book and Return ( RLR) and Once I Put it Down I Couldn't Pick it Up ( OIPD-ICPU). This one is BK if you are really interested in that time, and OIPD-ICPU if you are not.
14 out of 17 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 12, 2009
I Also Recommend:
A traditional text book description of WWI would be summarized as follows: an assasination in Serbia lead German to declare war on Russia and France and German is defeated. If this explaination left you scratching your head through all your history classes then I highly recommend this book for you. It provides an indepth explanation of the events which caused WWI (a side from the standard Alliance System and the assasination of the Arch Duke) and explains exactically why Germany invaded France and Declared war on Russia. A difficult but enlightening read sure to please most any military history buff.
5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 12, 2006
First of all I consider Tuchman not only a first rate historian but but also a first rate writer,comparable perhaps only to Robert K. Massie (Castles of Steel,Dreadnought).This is one book that shows the true tragedy of the summer of 1914 when the Great Powers of Europe blindly stumbled into a murderous war costing millions of soldiers' lives and also civilians' in the 1918 influenza pandemic where the malnourished German population was decimated. The generals leading the operations are not portrayed as 'donkeys leading the lions',but simply as technically not up to date 19th century men not realizing that the heroic ways of offensive warfare did not work against machine guns and quickfiring artillery. Younger Moltke learned this -Joffre and Haig did not.These men did not know that the minimal infantry numbers of Frederick,Moltke,and even Napoleon were supplanted by huge masses of infatry which could not perform the Prussian charges nor Maneuvres sur derriere of Napoleon but needed huge logistics tails which Schlieffen conveniently neglected in his Great Memorandum considering his war of movement and rigid time tables proposed. The innovative way of waging war was fought at sea considering the distant blockade,the U boat war and the defense against it.Jutland was not that innovative although the charge of caution against Jellicoe was unjust since he won the battle strategically. Tuchman describes the initial war of movement before it ground to a halt. She treats Molke the Yonger as what he was a physically sick old man out his depth trying to do the best he could. Of course this book is a classic.Why not? It should be.
5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 25, 2000
Barbara Tuchman's account of the first two months of World War I is written in a narrative style that puts real faces (glorious as well as shady) on the individuals who are so often lost in the trenches of historical writing. One is amazed at how seemingly trivial events combined with underlying factors would, in less than a month, lead to the destruction and rebirth of the world. An entire generation of young men would be lost by the decisions made by a few. Unlike how the war is usually presented, these choices were not easy ones, whether for Poincare or the Kaiser, and all parties involved slept little until the very last minute of peace. The same emotions courses through the reader at every turn of the page as the mind absorbs the history as if it has countered it for the first time. Barbara Tuchman is also very fair in her views of the leading characters in the unfolding drama. True, many generals were incompetent, throwing entire populations at each other in an attempt to outmaneuver the enemy and win a glorious victory in the style of Napoleon of Bismarck. However, they were human, and one can empathize with the meloncholy felt by Sir French, the sense of inevitability felt by King Albert, and the crushing affect of past parental achievements on the mind of von Moltke. At times, though, one may feel that Shakespeare said it best through the mouth of Puck: 'What fools these mortals be!' The many, missed opportunities for a completely different and benevolent future stings us with the same impact of a failed field goal that would've won the NBA finals. This book is closest to some real-time experience of World War I that one can get, and quite frankly a lengthier work describing the entire war will be too exhausting. I have never read a history book as this one; more 'strategic' than Stephen Ambrose but more 'tactical' than Gilbert Martin. Barbara Tuchman is a truly unique writer.
4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 30, 2011
I read this years ago and rereading it was a great experience. It still plays well after all these years and you can see how we- especially our leaders- still haven't learned anything from this horrible month nearly a century ago. Some of the text she quotes could be pulled right out of todays headlines.
Tuchman also wrote so well that you can understand the intrigue with no problem.
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 24, 2004
After just finishing this for a school project, I must confess some conflicting emotions. Tuchman succeeds in moving beyond the realm of the history book, creating a narrative that is both compelling and informative. Her attention to detail, especially in the realm of the commanders personalities, is both the book's strongest and weakest point. While this approach provides an interesting view of the events of WWI, Tuchman has a tendency to overemphasize and repeat herself. In short, this book could have been 100 pages shorter with no great loss of content. On top of that, being forced to read the same idea 3 or 4 times becomes somewhat demeaning (i.e. Belgian neutrality was one of the central issues of the war.) But for all its foibles, those who choose to pick up this book will find a far more interesting version of history than the one in your textbook.
2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 17, 2014
There is no denying Barbara Tuchman's brilliance in writing this story of the first month of World War I. She is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author whose depth of coverage strikes the right balance between superficiality and laboriously dry stating of the facts.
The amount of detail in the book gives one a panoramic view of both theaters of the war. Written less as abstract history than as a story, Tuchman keeps the reader interested in the subject, keeping them on the main points without getting dragged down with minutiae. The writing is of a form that presages the works of [author:David McCullough|6281688] in terms of its decidedly non-scholarly tone. It is a style that I personally prefer as it makes history more accessible to more people.
The tone of Tuchman's work is one that gives the tragic story of World War I its poignancy and sense of tragedy. The reader can feel the pathos and angst with each turn of the page. Never has tragedy been so methodically and consistently told.
An excellent companion (and prequel) to this work would be [book:July 1914: Countdown to War|15843081] by Sean McMeekin. Read together, they set the stage for the long, inhumane trench warfare that was to come and the world that was remade as a result of this war.
BOTTOM LINE: A definite go-to book for those looking to deepen their understanding of World War I.
Posted August 1, 2014
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Posted September 20, 2013
I almost never stop reading a book, no matter how bad it is. I stopped reading this after about 10 pages because it was so utterly, incredible boring, only to start again several months later because I really wanted to read the story of WWI. The second time I made it through the first chapter but couldn't take it any more. A total waste of my time. (I have read about other wars extensively but not so many books about the First World War.) And Robert Massie even wrote the intro praising her! He knew her personally. I love Massie's books, have read at least 4-5 of them. His admiration is sorely misplaced. I have no idea how a book this dull ever won any award, let alone a Pulitzer. Go figure.
I normally read 30-40 pages in bed at night before I turn off the light. I would barely read a half page before this book put me to sleep, no exaggeration. If you read in bed in order to fall asleep—or if you have insomnia—this is the book for you.
0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 20, 2013
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Posted February 13, 2013
There have been so many tragedies in this war
I heard that at least 80 soilders were killed in every
second of fighting. People also thought that the war
would only last four months... but it ended up lasting
four long years of fighting. When ever I see a grave for a soilder from world war 1I say never again
0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 5, 2012
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Posted March 26, 2012