The Guns of August

The Guns of August

by Barbara W. Tuchman
4.1 142

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The Guns of August 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 142 reviews.
B-2 More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
ritt1 More than 1 year ago
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.
Santiano More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
historybuff2 More than 1 year ago
Excellent book . BTW - you can buy this in paperback from Amazon for $6.00. Compare that to what B&N is charging. Their Nook book costs more than the paperback from Amazon. Go figure..
BrianIndianFan More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Haven't finished yet, but so far very interesting account of the bulid up to WWI.
anonymously More than 1 year ago
very good history
GriffsPal More than 1 year ago
Interesting commentary the first salvos of the Great War. The German Army's rampage in Belgium explains some of the hatred harbored by other country against the entire German Populace.
pucksandbooks More than 1 year ago
The comprehensive detail into the personalities and ambitions of the major players astounded me. The narrative was riveting and extremely powerful.
Marcus_Twain More than 1 year ago
We glamorize war. For the millons who died or maimed in World War I, the survirors wanted it to be the "War that ended all wars." Of course, it wasn't. Tuckman shows how rigid diplomacy, egos, and a chip on the shoulder can culminate in war. One critic wrote, "We all know how World War I ended, but, when you're reading Tuchman, you're just not quite sure!" A wonderfully written book you'll enjoy!
Freddie1969 More than 1 year ago
The book has touched the inner core of my heart.I further realized the inherent altruism of every soldier knowing how strong the chances of not making it home in one piece.The Battle of Tannenberg made me bled from inside,I consider General Samsonov,Russian Commander of the 1st Army , a hero for he would rather kill himself than be facing the Czar in shame because of his alleged poor tactics in warfares aside from the historical views of the possible betrayal of him by General Rennenkempf,commander of the 2nd Army,who won the Battle of Gumbinen,but was a no show and faraway when Samsonov's army was enveloped by the German army.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is an excellent history of the beginnings of WWI. It starts off a bit slow, but picks up quickly. The author does a great job explaining the not only the battles, but also the military and political leadership behind them. The book really does a good job of illustrating the ineptitude of the leaders on both sides, as well as their numerous misconceptions and bad predictions. By the end of the book, I was left wanting to know "what happened next?" and it inspired me to read more about the war. My only complaint would be about the maps: The first problem is that there aren't enough maps. There are only 2 or 3 in the entire book. This makes it difficult, at times, to follow the some of the action unless you are intimiately familiar with the geography of Beligum and northern France. The second problem is the quality of the maps; they are horrible! They look like low-quality photocopies from a 60-year old text book or something.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a very in depth book on the lead up to and first month of the first world war, well researched so well you can almost imagine being there. If it wasn't so serious it would be amusing when you read about the incompetence, ego's, petty squabbling, dated tatics, failure to see the obvious the list goes on.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The author uses skills to create an informative story. Her talents makes the subject matter interesting and intelligible...something few historians seem capable of doing.
Tanin More than 1 year ago
The Guns of August by Barbara W. Tuchman. It is centered on the first month of World War I. After introductory chapters, Tuchman describes in great detail the opening events of the conflict. Its focus then becomes a military history of the contestants, chiefly the great powers.The Guns of August thus provides a narrative of the earliest stages of World War I, from the decisions to go to war, up until the start of the Franco-British offensive that stopped the German advance into France. The result was four years of trench warfare. In the course of her narrative Tuchman includes discussion of the plans, strategies, world events, and international sentiments before and during the war. I was impressed that a woman was writing military history, a field that was then almost exclusively male – and writing it in a way that far surpassed the detailed studies that had much about the calibre of guns and the movements of a regiment, but little about what it was like to be on a battlefield. The guns of august was made into a movie and is in black white. People who are interested in knowing more background knowledge about world war 1 and the reasons it started should read this book. It is dense. It is detailed. Names and places and battles are thrown at you in rapid succession. You have to remember who is who, which corps is fighting where and its number, the title of each commander and more. You do not have time to stop and think and recall what was told to you minutes/pages or even hours/chapters before. The maps in my edition, in tones of gray and grayer, were nearly impossible to read. But other then that this book was a pretty good read do to Tuchmans descriptions and her visual imagery .
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