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The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890-1914 Paperback – August 27, 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; 1st Ballantine Books edition (August 27, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345405013
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345405012
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.3 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (135 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,290 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“[Barbara W. Tuchman’s] Pulitzer Prize–winning The Guns of August was an expert evocation of the first spasm of the 1914–1918 war. She brings the same narrative gifts and panoramic camera eye to her portrait of the antebellum world.”Newsweek
 
“A rare combination of impeccable scholarship and literary polish . . . It would be impossible to read The Proud Tower without pleasure and admiration.”The New York Times
 
“An exquisitely written and thoroughly engrossing work . . . The author’s knowledge and skill are so impressive that they whet the appetite for more.”Chicago Tribune
 
“[Tuchman] tells her story with cool wit and warm understanding.”Time

From the Publisher

THE PROUD TOWER by Barbara Tuchman examines the Western World of approximately 100 years ago. Technologically the world was a very different from today, but the strifes between economic groups and among nations bears many similarities to our own time. Tuchman examines the economic, social, political, and technological world of the period 1890-1914. By this period, the United States had become an important player in world affairs. The Haymarket Affair in Chicago fueled the development of international anarchism which led to the assasinations of political figures in Russia, Italy, France and lastly President McKinley in the United States. Tuchman's unraveling of the the Dreyfus Affair is, in itself, worth the price of the book. In THE PROUD TOWER Tuchman describes the western world that exploded into The Great War (which she describes in THE GUNS OF AUGUST).

Randy Hickernell, Ballantine Sales Rep.

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Customer Reviews

Barbara Tuchman is a very good writer of history.
Owen Hughes
The book, as it's subtitle suggests is Ms. Tuchman's portrait of the world in the years leading to the First World War.
rufusmaxx@worldnet.att.net
While an attempt was made to mould them into a homogenous whole, it doesn't quite work.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

178 of 182 people found the following review helpful By D. C. Cannon on August 18, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is not one of Barbara Tuchman's best known books and yet it may be her most daring work. Tuchman's thesis is how could something as horrible as World War I happen if everything in the preceding years were so good? The answer is that "la belle epoque" is a myth and the quarter century prior to WWI was a very unsettling time.

Tuchman does this by snapshots of various countries just before the war, so the book is more like short stories than a consistent narrative like The Guns of August. Depending on your interests, some chapters will be more fascinating than others.

Her take on the British class structure did not thrill me that much, but she was very strong on the Anarchist movement, which has eerie overtones given current events, and the American Labor Movement. The centerpiece is a tour de force of early modern French history, specifically the Dreyfus Affair. Hardly touched in schools anymore, the Dreyfus Affair nearly tore France apart and Tuchman gives riveting account of what went on and how high the stakes were. This chapter alone is worth buying the book.

In fact when I was in high school and college, World War I and the preceding years were lightly covered. Maybe people find World War II more interesting, or easier to understand. But the first World War was just as important (perhaps more so) and the causes of that conflict are complicated and raise very important issues. The Proud Tower is a good start to understanding this often overlooked historical period.
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46 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Paul Siemering on June 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
Nobody can write history like Barbara Tuchman, and this one is a dazzling masterpiece. The period it covers is arguably the most critical ever, because it's about the run up to World War I. And WWI is at the root of all the grief of the 20th century, and it ain't over yet. So you find so many moments when you are saying "jeez if that just didn't happen...." or "damn! if it had just gone the other way..." - all the while knowing of course that you are on the deadly roller coaster to the world's stupidest war, and it's gonna happen.
But oh wow, the stories Barbara can tell! Fascinating cast of characters, the major stars, the supporting cast, and the ordinary folks, how they react what they are thinking. Lots of surprises too, at least for me- people you have heard of before in very different contexts popping up here, either trying to make the war happen or trying to stop it.
And then, the stuff you did hear about before, but maybe never really understood very well, she will tell you all about it. The intricate plots and schemes, the "Dear Nicky" letters, the death of Juares, and the absolutely best presentation I ever read of the Dreyfus case.
This is history, and history writing, at its very best. Don't miss it.
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54 of 57 people found the following review helpful By rufusmaxx@worldnet.att.net on December 26, 1998
Format: Paperback
I loved The Proud Tower. I wish that all History books were this interesting and informative. The book, as it's subtitle suggests is Ms. Tuchman's portrait of the world in the years leading to the First World War. It is cultural history, political history, biography and more. The book is divided into sections covering the years 1890-1914 in England, France, Germany, and the U.S. It also covers social, political, and cultural movements like Anarchism, Socialism and The Hague Peace Conference. Each section is it's own treasure and made me wish Ms. Tuchman had written an entire book on her various subjects. Many of them were new to me; such as Thomas B. Reed, the U.S. Speaker of the House around the turn of the last century, or the Anarchist movement in Europe and America. Some of the topics were more familiar, like the Dreyfus Affair in France, but no less interesting in her hands. This is a great book!!! Try it and see.
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97 of 116 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
A collection of essays and magazine pieces published from 1962-65, Mrs. Tuchman attempts a snapshot of the major powers as well as two of the major movements: the first organized terrorist movement, Anarchism and the rise of Communism which agitated and propelled that Lost World into the catastrophe that ended European dominance and put the remaining Empires (British, French, Belgian and Dutch) on life-support and led to the twin horrors of the Shoah and Communism.

The "chapters" are only loosely linked by the theme announced in the sub-title: "A Portrait of the World Before the War." Mrs. Tuchman doesn't quite achieve that, put her fluid, graceful prose and easy, unostentatious erudition still make even the less significant pieces a pleasure to read. While an attempt was made to mould them into a homogenous whole, it doesn't quite work. They remain separate pieces. The qualities of the essays vary with the ones on German militarism and "L'Affaire Dreyfus" Chapters 4 and 6.

Tuchman also badly misunderstands the greatest and most influential of all German 19th century philosophers--Nietzsche--but she's in excellent company there. Few students of philosophy properly understand Nietzche so it's hardly surprising a general historian would repeat the cliches and misunderstanding of that enemy of German militarism and premature proponent of European cosmopolitanism--a process not dissimilar to that which the US Civil War began and which is still not complete within the United States.

As introduction to the period, the two above-noted essays are good enough. But a far better introduction to France before the war and the treason comitted by prominent French politicians as well as the Drefus Affair, Richard Watt's "Dare Call It Treason" is far superior.
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