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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars gripping readable history
Barbara Tuchman's account of the 30 days of August 1914 can be viewed as a prism of events before and after this pivotal month at the start of the WW1. There are many views as to whether this War was an inevitable manifestation of tottering monarchies, deadly new technology, colonial rivalry and and the still very prevalent romance and chivalry associated with War...
Published on 27 July 1999

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Neither insightful nor entertaining
I approached this book with high expectations due to the rave reviews it has received but I was disappointed. The theme of the book is that the personalities and relationships of the characters involved were the driving factor in the origins of World War I, and the author attempts to make history read like a suspense novel. The concept is good, and this approach has...
Published on 26 Mar 2003 by CFB London


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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars gripping readable history, 27 July 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Guns of August (Paperback)
Barbara Tuchman's account of the 30 days of August 1914 can be viewed as a prism of events before and after this pivotal month at the start of the WW1. There are many views as to whether this War was an inevitable manifestation of tottering monarchies, deadly new technology, colonial rivalry and and the still very prevalent romance and chivalry associated with War. WW1 forever debased that latter notion, but sadly did not put an end to war. Although this can be read as a stand alone piece it is better put in the perspective of it's precedent, the war itself and its aftermath. John Keegan's new study 'World War One' is highly recommended, and perhaps Clausewitz's classic study of causes and tactics 'On War'. Tuchman does not present an ideological or chauvinistic perspective. Her strength is in her objective narrative rendering, and her character insights, including the llumination of some lesser known figures who played a key roll in events. Excellent, readable history with the drama and immediacy of a novel. You'll have trouble putting it down.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is an exceptional historical read., 18 Jun 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Guns of August (Paperback)
The Guns of August is the fourth Barbara Tuchman book I have read and is a masterwork of historical writing. I learned in school that the Archduke Ferdinand was shot in Sarajevo and then all these countries went to war because they had secret treaties. Tuchman tells the real story from the opening chapter of the Funeral of Edward VII (with the array of kings and princes, such as have never been assembled since) through the incredible stupidity of the war planners (on all sides of the conflict) to the final days of the first month of the war. The personal and political and familial and military relationships are so clearly defined that the scenes described take on a vivid life. This is an excllent book, a great undertaking that has awakened me to the fact that war itself made a drastic and horrible turn in 1914 from which the world has not yet recovered. There had always been horror associated with war, despite the language of honor, but the technology changed and the tactics that made the massacre of civilians a shocking event that resonated around the world are now accepted procedures for all combatants, including US troops. The well of melancholy that lies beneath the military history is almost underplayed in Tuchman's treatise. But it is there and painfully real - we have yet to withdraw from the savagery that once humans could not imagine. This book is as relevant today as it was when it was written and as the story was when it happened.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent book, 17 April 2003
This review is from: The Guns of August (Paperback)
Like another review I stumbled across this book having read Robert Kennedy's account of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 13 Days. JFK was reading The Guns of August at the time (it being published in 1962/63). Having read both one can see why JFK 'recommended' it. With remarkable yet accessible detail Tuchman constructs the events leading up to the outbreak of War and the chaotic first month. Where she succeeds (to my ill educated view) is in capturing the political and geopolitical issues surrounding the decisions to go to War- the Gronau's dash to include Turkey on the Axis side, the school playground posturing of the then Superpowers, the French persuading Russia to mobilise despite the latter being hopelessly ill prepared for operations. Writing about war should never be a trivialised undertaking and Tuchman triumphs in the information delivery and tone of her writing. It reads like a novel but the final pages, listing the abominable waste of life brings stark and saddening reality crashing home. I think JFK saw how possible it would have been to bring the world to war- as in 1914 and how escalation follows escalation until there is no other option available. It is fitting that the seminal BBC documentary series The Great War was, in part, inspired by this book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best!, 25 May 2005
By 
Kurt A. Johnson (Marseilles, IL USA) - See all my reviews
Rightly considered one of the greatest books on the beginning of World War I, this book won Barbara Tuchman (1912-89) her first Pulitzer Prize. Beginning with the funeral of the British King, Edward VII (1841-1910), the author unfolds European events that led to the Great War and shows how it happened and why. Containing many black-and-white pictures, the storytelling is handled in a wonderfully engrossing manner, almost reading like a novel. The story continues, with all of its horrible mistakes and miscalculations, to the Battle of the Marne, which stopped the German march to Paris.
Overall, I found this to be a great history book, certainly the best I have ever read on World War I. It's easy to see why this book is so respected. Indeed, I believe that for many generations into the future, this book will be considered a classic on that war.
So, if you are interested in the First World War, and want to read a great book on it, then I highly recommend this book to you. I give it my highest recommendations.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 40 years on, but still evergreen, 9 Oct 2001
This review is from: The Guns of August (Paperback)
This is not a work of fiction, as described in the information. It is well worth reading as a story, albeit true. The author has a wonderful sense of the period; pen descriptions of the main characters are succinct and superb. For a detailed narrative of the first month of WW1 it is eminently readable. Well worth an investment for the student of this period.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For anyone who is passionate about history, 4 Aug 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Guns of August (Paperback)
I picked out "The Guns of August" because I felt I needed to learn more about our first world war. As soon as I picked it up to start I never stopped reading until the last page. Barbara W. Tuchman made a non-fiction book feel like a thrilling novel. I never thought I would really enjoy a non-fiction read until I found "The Guns of August. I can't wait to read another of her riveting books.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scholarly, well-written, interesting, 10 April 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Guns of August (Paperback)
Focusing on the period immediately prior to the beginning of World War I, Ms. Tuchman has written an engrossing account of the events and characters which combined to propel the world into a bloody, disasterous, and wasteful conflict. The people who participated in these events -- from Kaiser Wilhelm and his adviser the odious Holstein, to Winston Churchill, Woodrow Wilson, and many less well-known individuals -- reveal themselves in excerpts from personal diaries as well as in published reports and state papers. The events themselves, leading as they did to the most horrible and all-encompassing war the world had known up to that point, are related in such a way as to make the reader keep turning the pages to find out what happens next. But one of the most interesting results of reading about this time period, is noticing how incidents which occurred in the early part of the 20th century resonate even now in news reports from Eastern Europe (Bosnia, Serbia, Greece and Turkey) and North Africa (Algeria, Egypt, and Ethiopia). At the time I read this book, I knew very little about World War I, and the book prompted me to go on and read more about that era. Ms. Tuchman's carefully researched book is a classic, and belongs on every discerning reader's bookshelf.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History written as a novel, 4 Jan 2006
By 
PC (Chichester, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This is a fascinating and highly readable book. Tuchman creates her characters very fully, the plot is fast moving and well structured, the scenes well drawn. This would be a good novel except that it's history! A frightening essay in how politicians and generals can get it terribly wrong. Whether or not you agree with Tuchman's conclusion that what happened between mid-August and mid-September 1914 set the direction of world history for the rest of the century, she makes a formidable case. Anyone interested in history or politics should read this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Neither insightful nor entertaining, 26 Mar 2003
This review is from: The Guns of August (Paperback)
I approached this book with high expectations due to the rave reviews it has received but I was disappointed. The theme of the book is that the personalities and relationships of the characters involved were the driving factor in the origins of World War I, and the author attempts to make history read like a suspense novel. The concept is good, and this approach has worked well in other books - Massey's Nicholas and Alexandra being a good example. Unfortunately, in the Guns of August the author focusses on often insignificant personal details and dialogue and neglects a large amount of important historical facts and broader national and cultural issues. Because the description of events was so superficial, I found the book boring and actually painful to read instead of being suspenseful and entertaining.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Guns of August, 19 April 2006
This book is a highly readable account of the beginning of World War One. Tuchman brings to life the tumultuous and tenuous state of Europe in 1914 which erupted into the "Great War". I do recommend reading this book with Geoffrey Wawro's excellent short history of the Franco-Prussian War(the war that preceeded WW1) for a better historical perspective.
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The Guns of August
The Guns of August by Barbara W. Tuchman (Paperback - 27 April 2000)
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