The Zimmermann Telegram: The Astounding Espionage Operation That Propelled America into the First World War Paperback – 1 Dec 2016
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A most exciting book, full of vivid pen portraits and curious episodes (Sunday Times)
As thrilling as a John Buchan novel (Times Literary Supplement)
Its 200 pages are worth more than all the thrillers and whodunits of the fiction writers put together (Herald)
A fine exciting book told with intense drama. A thriller of real life (Observer)
Brilliant. Told with great literary and dramatic talent (New York Times)
All the ingredients of an Eric Ambler spy thriller (Saturday Review)
Dazzling (Max Hastings on 'Guns of August')
Magnificent. A masterpiece of the historian's art (on 'Guns of August' Guardian)
From the Back Cover
'Nothing can stop an enemy from picking wireless messages out of the free air - and nothing did. In England, Room 40 was born . . .'
In January 1917, with the First World War locked in terrible stalemate and America still neutral, German Foreign Secretary Arthur Zimmerman gambled the future of the conflict on a single telegram. But this message was intercepted and decoded in Whitehall's legendary Room 40 - and Zimmerman's audacious scheme for world domination was exposed, bringing America into the war and changing the course of history. The story of how this happened and the incalculable consequences are thrillingly told in Barbara Tuchman's brilliant exploration.
'A most exciting book, full of vivid pen portraits and curious episodes' Sunday Times
'As thrilling as a John Buchan novel' The Times Literary Supplement
'Its 200 pages are worth more than all the thrillers and whodunits of the fiction writers put together' Herald
'A fine exciting book told with intense drama. A thriller of real life' Observer
'Brilliant. Told with great literary and dramatic talent' New York Times Book Review
[thumbnails of Guns of August and The Proud Tower]See all Product description
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The book is based on an impressive grasp of the detailed evidence. At times the description of what people were thinking, where they were sitting and how they felt clearly goes beyond what the evidence directly proves, making the account read more like a careful dramatisation than a dry academic recitation.
And drama aplenty there is: ingenious British code-breaking, dramatic chases around the Middle East, nefarious plotting to subvert governments and all for the very highest in political stakes - the outcome of a war engulfing the world.
Some parts of the book have rather dated - even the 1966 preface flags up the volume of new evidence available since the original publication - and the clichéd picture of German personality traits feels very much of another era.
For readers not too interested in the detailed history of American-Mexican relations, the sections on the plots and counter-plots in Mexican politics can feel a little slow. Yet even a skim read through these details gives a vivid picture of Mexican instability, American nervousness over its southern frontier and a climate in which spies and plots prospered.
It all makes for a highly enjoyable read in addition to being a thought provoking reminder about how often people frame evidence to fit their views: those for whom the telegram suited their political views were generally easy to persuade that it was genuine and many of those who found it ran against their previous views initially latched on to all sorts of arguments for dismissing it as a fake. That lesson is still highly relevant today.