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on 11 February 2015
Just finished reading this on a two week holiday on Tenerife. Very well written and explains in depth the reasons WW1 erupted and caused so much grief. Book deals with all events from July 1914 up until the first christmas of the war. Lots of graphic detail from eyewitnessess. A splendid tome which should be read by all those Interested in the political and military events and characters.
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on 11 June 2014
I chose the book because Hastings is generally a good authority historically. This book, however, lacks some drive in the initial chapters but picks up slightly (I have not finished it yet) halfway through. It does however give a thorough insight into the causes of the Great War. Recommended to those interested in this period and people like myself who are curious as to how the death of a minor member of so-called nobility could plunge the world into an overwhelming turmoil from which it has never recovered.
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on 10 January 2018
Max Hastings historical knowledge together with his individual writing style always results in a superb volume which you find hard to put down. 'Catastrophe' is no exception and will give the reader a deep insight into how the first world war erupted into the destruction of a whole generation of young Europeans. Thoroughly recommended.
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on 28 October 2014
I'm ashamed to say that my knowledge of the events leading up to the outbreak of war in 1914 was very poor before reading this book. Most books tend to give a quick overview & then we're off to the trenches, the Somme, Verdun etc. I had read some of Max Hastings' books before this, on world war 2 & the Korean war, which I had enjoyed so I decided to give this a go. To put it simply, its a magnificent book. Its beautifully written & I was thoroughly engrossed from start to finish. If you want to know all about Europe's descent into war in 1914, look no further. I can't praise it highly enough. An astonishing achievement. Bravo!
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on 23 February 2014
A work of considerable scholarship, giving views of politicians,officers,enlisted men and civilians from all the combatant nations. The idea that it leaves one with, is that, whilst not as futile as one believed before, the conflict was a necessary step in the evolution of Europe to get to where we are today. It is sad that so many young men had to sacrifice their lives to change the psyche and the established ruling culture of the Continent to win the freedoms we take for granted today.
A very worthwhile read from a considerable military historian.
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on 1 April 2015
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. It was as if his heart wasn't really in it. (Please note I've said "AS IF".) I am sure his heart WAS in it.

If you happen to be a reader coming to Sir Max Hastings's historical works for the first time there are, I think, other and better books of his to read.
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on 27 June 2014
A good book, well written. It provides excellent background to the causes of the First World War and the first year thereafter. I have so much respect for the foot soldiers who endured and often didn't survive appalling conditions and contempt for those politicians who sent them there. The officer class come out badly too with many letting their egos get in the way of pragmatism.

The book is probably over-long and too detailed. I found it difficult to remember who was whom. Amazon's x-ray technology would have helped tremendously in this regard.
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on 9 March 2018
Brilliant , best account of 1914 and the causes of the awful conflict, only gripe was a badly creased end paper but still worth the five stars
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on 12 May 2016
Max Hasting provides the reader with a good insight into pre-war period of the first world war in all the respective camps on both the Allied (British, French and Russian) & Central Powers (Austria-Hungary and German) and the Serbian. The starting point to the first world war.
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on 19 September 2016
This is the first book I have read on world war 1 and the first by Hastings. Very interesting and easy to read, the research is impeccable, the history fascinating.
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