- Series: Modern Library 100 Best Nonfiction Books
- Paperback: 608 pages
- Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (March 8, 1994)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 034538623X
- ISBN-13: 978-0345386236
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.3 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,366 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,165 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Guns of August (Modern Library 100 Best Nonfiction Books) Paperback – March 8, 1994
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“A brilliant piece of military history which proves up to the hilt the force of Winston Churchill’s statement that the first month of World War I was ‘a drama never surpassed.’”—Newsweek
“More dramatic than fiction . . . a magnificent narrative—beautifully organized, elegantly phrased, skillfully paced and sustained.”—Chicago Tribune
“A fine demonstration that with sufficient art rather specialized history can be raised to the level of literature.”—The New York Times
“[The Guns of August] has a vitality that transcends its narrative virtues, which are considerable, and its feel for characterizations, which is excellent.”—The Wall Street Journal
From the Paperback edition.
From the Publisher
To many people, W.W.I seems like ancient history. To me, it is the most fascinating of wars. It is when the modern world began, or, in Barbara Tuchman's opinion, when the 19th Century ended. My late Great Uncle Jimmy, a Brit, joined the Army at the age of 16 by lying that he was 18 after being encouraged to do so by a recruiter. Where did they send him? To Ireland, to train horses for the cavalry! This was the same war that saw the debut of the airplane, submarine, tank, poison gas, machine gun, flamethrower, and hand grenade!
In this Pulitzer Prize-winning history, Tuchman writes about the turning point of the year 1914--the month leading up to the war and the first month of the war. This was the last gasp of the Gilded Age, of Kings and Kaisers and Czars, of pointed or plumed hats, colored uniforms, and all the pomp and romance that went along with war. How quickly it all changed, and how horrible it became. Tuchman is masterful at portraying this abrupt change from 19th to 20th Century. And how she manages to make the story utterly suspenseful, when we already know the outcome, is the mark of a great writer, and a classic volume of history.
Doug Grad, Editor
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H.W. Brands is one of my favorite modern American historians. He has written excellent books on TR, Grant, and the collision between Truman and MacArthur. In an interview, he mentioned that he has tried to copy the writing style of Barbara Tuchman, for he views her "The Guns of August" as the finest history book written. I bought it based on that recommendation.
This book was published in 1962. Ms. Tuchman is not a trained historian and does not have a PhD in the subject (neither did Gibbons or Churchill). It won the Pulitzer for non-fiction in 1962. Reading it 56 years after it was first published, I was absolutely blown away. While I don't want to fall victim to recency bias, it is clear to me that this is the finest piece on history by an American that I have ever read. Ms. Tuchman made extensive use of primary sources. She has an amazing grasp of the both micro and macro elements of the lead-up to and the first month of the war. Perhaps most significantly, she writes clearly and vividly. The book, despite having lots of information, is a breeze and a joy to read. It is fascinating.
I am deeply embarrassed that it took me this long to discover and read this book. Truly remarkable.
Stephen Joe Payne
Tuchman's magnum plus starts by presenting a portrait of Europe -- and especially the major combatant nation's -- at the dawn the 20th century. She examines there economics, culture and society, their histories from the 19th century, their relationships with each other.
She then tas the reader by the hand and guides them step-by-step through the historical minefields that are at least as bewildering as their real world counterparts. She carrys her history through to the end of 1914 and the failure of the German army's attempt to deliver the fast knockout blow which would be needed, if Germany hoped the defeat the combined military forces of the Entente. (They did not come to be called the Allies until after the United States joined the war.)