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BOOK OF THE YEAR – AS CHOSEN BY THE INDEPENDENT, FINANCIAL TIMES, OBSERVER, TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT AND SPECTATOR.
‘Like one of Field Marshal Haig’s family whiskies, Max Hastings is a dram that steadily improves with age … His position as Britain’s leading military historian is now unassailable … In this enormously impressive new book, Hastings effortlessly masters the complex lead-up to and opening weeks of the First World War … [He] is as magisterial as we would expect … This is a magnificent and deeply moving book, and with Max Hastings as our guide we are in the hands of a master’ Nigel Jones, Telegraph
‘Hastings is the author of consistently good histories of WWII. But with ‘Catastrophe’ he has reached a new level of excellence’ The Times
‘Magnificent … Hastings writes with an enviable grasp of pace and balance, as well as an acute eye for human detail. Even for readers who care nothing for the difference between a battalion and a division, his book is at once moving, provocative and utterly engrossing’ Sunday Times
‘Masterly … Hastings is a brilliant guide to that strange, febrile twilight before Europe plunged into darkness. Writing in pungent prose suffused with irony and underpinned by a strong sense of moral outrage … this is history-writing at its best, scholarly and fluent … for anyone wanting to understand how that ghastly, much-misunderstood conflict came about, there could be no better place to start than this fine book’ The Times
‘One could scarcely ask for a better guide to these horrors than Max Hastings … he is a superb writer with a rare gift for evoking the rhythm, mood and raw physical terror of battle … If you are looking for a humane and compelling interpretive chronicle of the formative months of this horrific conflict, you will find none better’ Mail on Sunday
‘Very readable. Character, pace, sense of landscape, battlefield detail – all are superbly done … it's a splendid read’ Observer
Sir Max Hastings is the author of twenty-five books, many of them about war. He was educated at Charterhouse and University College, Oxford, which he quit after a year to become a journalist. Thereafter he reported for newspapers and BBC TV from sixty-four countries and eleven conflicts, notably the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, Vietnam and the 1982 Battle for the Falklands. Between 1986 and 2002 he was editor-in-chief of The Daily Telegraph, then editor of the Evening Standard. He has won many prizes both for journalism and for his books, most recently the 2012 Chicago Pritzker Library’s $100,000 literary award for his contribution to military history, and the RUSI’s Westminster Medal for his international best-seller All Hell Let Loose. He has two grown-up children, Charlotte and Harry, and lives with his wife Penny in West Berkshire, where they garden enthusiastically.
I'll keep it brief. This is a highly readable account of the build up to the beginning of World War 1 and the first months of war. Read morePublished 5 days ago by R. A. S. Brown
A bit of a slog for the general reader.
Not enough anecdotes to provide colour among the descriptions of memos & meetings. Read more
It's almost an hour by hour account of the first year or so. Pity Mr Hastings can be more engaging.Published 25 days ago by Fangio
Great book covering a large part of the conflict, engaging for even those with a fair bit of knowledge as author covers big picture while also throwing in some pretty grounding... Read morePublished 26 days ago by Jake Bullet
Wonderful book if you want to know the full story behind the onset of the first world war with all the politicking, ambitions for expansion, disputed territories all examined in a... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Gedwin
Another excellent history by MH. I just wish he'd bring out 1915! Overlaps with McMillan's book The War that Ended Peace. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Timothy Hawthorn
An interesting focus on the causes and thoughts of people during the start of the war. A good mix of strategic history and personal stories from participants at all levels.Published 1 month ago by Julian Stanley Mew
I admire Max Hastings's books (I've got the lot) and he is an enthralling writer on war but I found this just a little flat and dull at times. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Steve