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The Guns of August (Modern Library 100 Best Nonfiction Books) Paperback – March 8, 1994
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“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
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
Top Customer Reviews
There are maps in the book describing the battles. There are also photographs. But I must admit that I barely looked at the maps. And I found all the photos of the elderly generals very similar. What I did love though was the sweep of the story as well as the many details that go into waging a war. Previously, most war books I've read had to do with the experience of the soldiers. But this book is about the experience of making decisions, often based on folly. And it opened my eyes to how vulnerable the ordinary person is to the whims of the generals and the forces of pure chance. Ms. Tuchman also had a sense of irony and humor and sometimes I found myself laughing out loud.
The narrative of the month of August 1914 is described hour by hour. Belgium has to make a decision to accept an awful defeat or willingly allow the Germans to march through their neutral territory. There are alliances in place that are just waiting to be broken. The Russians come into the war. So do the British, even though it is with much reluctance. The basic war is between France and Germany, almost a continuation of the defeat the French suffered at the hands of the Germans during the Franco-Prussian War in 1870.
Before I read this book, I didn't know much about WW1. Now I do.Read more ›
The great big screaming problem is, as a history, from the very day it was published, its basic thesis of war by miscalculation was already untenable on the basis of available scholarship.
The root of the problem is that while Tuchman does provide a brief overview of the historical tensions that provide a background to the war, she spends all of ONE long paragraph discussing what actually transpired between the assassination on June 28 and the July 23 publication of Austro-Hungary's ultimatum to Serbia (i.e. the crossing of the threshold that establishes that a decision for war has been made and opens the door to the further expansion of the conflict). This is a STAGGERING omission.Read more ›
As for the book itself, it covers only the first month of the war. Though it does go into some depth of the war's origins, the main focus is on the movement and action of the armies from mobilization day until stalemate is reached. Tuchman's research is exhaustive, and this is the definitive work on that period. When the book was finished, I was disappointed only because she didn't continue. I wish I could give this more than five stars. If you have any interest in history whatsoever, regardless of your field, you must read this book, because this is what history should be!
Tuchman was one of a few readable non-historians (William L. Shirer, John Toland) who outdid the stuffy academics. I particularly liked her coverage on Belgium's dilemma: either let the Germans march through, or fight them against overwhelming odds - you have 12 hours to decide. "The Guns of August" is gripping, tragic history at its finest.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
THIS was the writing I was searching for when I bought The Proud Tower. I was yearning for diplomacy and war and what I got what was society and its follies and foibles. Read morePublished 18 hours ago by JTR
This was a very different kind of warfare than we are experiencing in 2016. The battles Tuchman describes were the most interesting part of the book.Published 6 days ago by Joyce S. Rathbone
A masterpiece! Understanding what really happened during that month of August helps you to understand the reasons and consequences of WW1.Published 7 days ago by eugenio
The Guns of August is a well written and documented account of the beginnings of the First World War. Read morePublished 8 days ago by CV1186
Tuchman writes like no other. A mesmerizing historical fiction that explores the personalities behind WWI. More history than fiction :DPublished 16 days ago by Jessica