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Barbara W. Tuchman: The Guns of August & The Proud Tower (Library of America) Hardcover – March 1, 2012

4.9 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

MARGARET MacMILLAN, editor, is the author of Paris 1919 (winner of the Duff Cooper Prize, the Samuel Johnson Prize for nonfiction, the Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History, the Governor-General's award for nonfiction, and a New York Times best book of the year), Nixon and Mao, and Women of the Raj. A past provost of Trinity College at the University of Toronto, MacMillan is the warden of St. Antony's College at Oxford University.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1264 pages
  • Publisher: Library of America; 1St Edition edition (March 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159853145X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1598531459
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.6 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #617,937 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By R. Albin TOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Another excellent product from the LOA. Tuchman's 2 best books brought together in a single, beautifully produced volume. Reading The Guns of August today is an interesting experience in several ways, partly because scholarship has pushed beyond what Tuchman knew at the time of writing. There is no real discussion, for example, of what impelled German aggression. Guns, nonetheless, is an outstanding example of historical narrative and superb writing. Tuchman switches from scene to scene across Europe in a remarkably well paced narrative, punctuating her narrative with superb set piece descriptions of personalities and individual events. Her judgements of individuals, expressed in concise, sometimes mordant sentences, are on par with some of the best writing of classic historians. The Proud Tower, a set of essays about fin-de-siecle Europe, lacks the overall narrative drive of Guns but is distinguished by the same superb writing.
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Format: Hardcover
As always, Barbara W. Tuchman delves deeply into the historical subject matter. This book is about the First World War, its causes, the conduct of it, and the results. I see that what I've just written in the preceding sentence doesn't sound inviting; it comes off as dry and uninteresting. But this book is anything but that. It is actually exciting in its description of the progress of the war, and the various armies. It is also fascinating to burrow into the causes and the intrigue involved. It seems almost like a thriller. Ms. Tuchman, Pulitzer Prize winner, as always, does exhaustive research before tackling a book, totally familiarizes herself with the facts and comments, give a deep analysis of the events, the how and why and when, and who, describes in vivid detail the events and their consequences, shows great insight about the facts, and, perhaps best of all, writes in a manner that makes history as exciting as an adventure story. For me, it was a page-turner. We delve into the personalities that brought about the war, and their manner of prosecuting it. We learn, in addition to all the important matters relating to this war, interesting tidbits as well, such as the fact that an army on the march can be smelled for some distance, since there are so many men together, and since they haven't had a chance to take a bath or change clothes for some time. Fascinating reading
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
No one writes about warfare better than Barbara Tuchman. You can hear the clatter and smell the gunpowder.
Only one criticism -- not against her, but against the publisher: The two books are bound the order she wrote them. Or, at least, in the order they originally were published. But ... the second book really is about the period of time leading up to WWI.
When I realized the second book described a time period before the first, I read the second book first.
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I have three copies of this book (one a first edition, first printing) and give it as gifts to friends I think would enjoy it. Tuchman's 'The Guns of August' and 'A Distant Mirror' are two books most definitely in my top 10 all time favorite reads. I've three copies of 'A Distant Mirror' as well (also, one is a 1st ed. 1st printing).
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Guns of August: Insight. Masterly analysis of decision-making especially those decisions that went badly wrong. I borrowed the audio edition from the public library and replayed passages in my car CD player. My complaint is that the paper in this edition is unsuitable for underlining. There are many passages and insightful comments worth red-lining so I'm now looking for a different edition.

The second book, The Proud Tower is about the minute goings-on of people in power in a period in England that is of no relevance today as England and the UK are no more than bit players on the world's stage.
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Format: Hardcover
I listened to the audio version by Ian Stuart years ago. One of the most memorable, and enjoyable audio books ever! The drama and tension of a soap opera combined with power and narrative of Thucydides. If you like military history, brilliant writing and narration, and have a long drive--you can't beat this! JFK reportedly kept a copy of this on his desk in the oval office as a reminder of smaller events leading to major catastrophes.
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Yeah, these works were written in the 20th century, but that only makes them more interesting. Insights may change over time, but not all of the old insights are invalidated by metahistorical developments. Tuchman writes beautifully and knows how to research andr tell a story.

I bought this volume as a gift for a well-read European friend whose take on the Great War is unlike most Americans'. She is quite pleased: apparently she's learning a lot about a fundamentally US point of view but has also found some significant historical details that she didn't know.
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In my opinion, Barbara Tuchman is a great historian and if possible, and even greater writer. I read this book because 2014 marked the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Great War in Europe that would all too soon engulf my own country.
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