Customer Review

36 of 38 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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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 8 Aug 2010 08:57:17 BDT
Last edited by the author on 8 Aug 2010 08:58:22 BDT
Ailsa Craig says:
Excellent review. I like Tuchman's work, have read two of hers, about to order this as research for a book I'm writing, but have a hard time with atrocities. ''we have yet to withdraw from the savagery that once humans could not imagine.'' we have always been savage, always visited unspeakable horrors against each other; it's just that now we see it on the news, we hear about it instantly.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Feb 2011 18:08:27 GMT
Tomfrom66 says:
And thanks to the technology available, we are now able to inflict horror and destruction on a mega-scale and at great distances, such as the drones in Afghanistan guided from bases in the US.

Can I put in a plug for another masterpiece of Tuchman's "The March of Folly" which asks why we fall into such tragedies but seem unable to see them coming. Wisdom, as she puts it, is a "lantern in the stern".
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