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The Guns of August/The Proud Tower

4.41  ·  Rating Details ·  168 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
Writing with a clarity, grace, and novelistic sweep rare among historians, Barbara W. Tuchman (1912-1989) distilled the complex interplay of personalities and events into gripping narratives that fuse rigorous scholarship with elegant literary art. An astute portraitist, she brilliantly laid bare the all-too-human failures of leaders subject to the pull of historical curre ...more
Hardcover, 1264 pages
Published March 1st 2012 by Library of America (first published 1962)
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Gary Land
Nov 07, 2013 Gary Land rated it it was amazing
Barbara Tuchhman was one of the great narrative historians. I first read THE GUNS OF AUGUST when it was published during my college years and was taken up with its recounting of the steps (more accurately missteps) that led to WWI. Rereading the book some forty years later did not disappoint. I had not previously read THE PROUD TOWER, however, which portrays Europe during the approximately three decades prior to the war. This volume was more ambitious, developing themes that unite elements that ...more
Jul 20, 2014 Kenneth rated it it was amazing
Library of America has reprinted 2 of Barbara Tuchman's most significant historical works in its series of great American literature, in this volume. "The Guns of August" is more-or-less a day by day history of the first month of World War I and how it went from ghastly slaughter on open battlefields to the horror of the trench warfare that it became for the remainimg years of the war. It chronicles the mistakes made by the high commands of both sides. They tended to use 19th century strategies ...more
Mar 13, 2016 Mshelton50 rated it it was amazing
Have finally read Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August. Her book The Proud Tower was and is one of my favorite books, and gave me a substantial "leg up" in my undergraduate European history courses. For some reason, though, I was never able to get into the The Guns until now. It is superb. While Tuchman was not an academic historian, she knew her material thoroughly, and, oh, her prose is wonderful. She can take a complex military situation and explain it in such a way that a civilian has no pro ...more
Sep 16, 2012 Tim rated it really liked it
This volume includes two books by Barbara Tuchman: The Guns of August and The Proud Tower. The first book; The Guns of August is a detailed account of World War I. The Proud Tower is an in depth look at all aspects of society leading up to WW1; social structures, economics, politics, socialism, anarchy in Britain, Europe, Russia, and the U.S. Consider the whole volume a chronicle of Western civilization right before and through Season 1 of Downtown Abbey.

I read The Proud Tower first since it con
Mar 10, 2014 Jos rated it it was amazing
First part of the book read in May 2014:

Second part of the book read in May/June 2014:

Two 4* books equal 4* in total. The lavish production of this volume and a short essay on America's entry into WW I concluding this volume make it 5*. The essay ends with an astonishingly far-sighted conclusion on America's role in the world, especially considering that this essay was written in 1967. America, please listen:

"Where o
Tim Diggles
Aug 09, 2014 Tim Diggles rated it it was amazing
This is excellent, it is actually two books, both fascinating and over 1,000 pages. The Guns of August gives an almost hour by hour history of the first month of WW1, and this is history written at its very highest level, dealing with the massive movements of troops and ships in that eventful August. Being an American writer there is no bias towards the Brits and their contribution is suitably dealt with. The vast Battle of Tannenberg on the eastern front seems just a vast mess which Germany cob ...more
Dan Snyder
Jul 19, 2016 Dan Snyder rated it it was amazing
Justly celebrated. Among the historians that should be read in order to understand the consensus of our age. I found myself admiring the wealth of research presented in such a lyric way, the story memorable and paced.

Tuchman's book is so widely accepted that I recognized its narrative devices (the Edwardian funeral in the opening, for example) in many textbooks and documentaries. Beyond an understanding of the events and people of the time, the synthesis in Guns of August has been readily placed
Mar 24, 2014 JodiP rated it it was amazing
I have just finished The Guns of August this morning. This is a dense, well-researched account of the first month of WWI, with attention paid to factors leading up to the war. I knew very little about the conflict, and now feel I have a solid basis. I had no idea that Germany had planned for decades, down to an invasion plan and violating the neutrality of Belgium. Tuchman was clearly a master historian.She provides much information, but her humor shines through at times, especially when describ ...more
Mar 05, 2012 S.D. rated it it was amazing
History is a great equalizer. Tuchman’s studies of the immediate prelude to & first months of WWI (The Guns of August), and the 24 years preceding it (The Proud Tower) bear more than striking resemblance to recent times. An era marked by the propagation of war by ruse for ulterior motives, entangling alliances, strategic mismanagement at a cost of millions, tenacious terrorism & fanatical nationalism, acute economic disparity & political polarization, and populist platitudes should r ...more
Dec 25, 2013 Timothy added it
Shelves: non-fiction
Not an easy read, in view of the level of detail. It seemed that one should either read it quickly, in a couple of long weekends, or a chapter or so at a time--I opted for the latter.

Needless to say, for someone looking for a treatise on the follies of modern warfare, this would be a great place to start.

Or should I say, a transition from 19th-century warfare to modern warfare, given the differences exhibited by the general staffs of the countries involved.
Henry Ramirez
Dec 08, 2013 Henry Ramirez rated it it was amazing
This is a review for the first part of the book, The Guns of August.

Tuchman does a fine job of telling an incredibly detailed account of the first 30 days of WWI. Showing how the first month, leading to the Battle of Marne, would decide the outcome of the war( not that the Germans would lose or the Allies win, but that it would be a disastrous and long war).

Kate Blumenthal
Nov 15, 2014 Kate Blumenthal rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: history buffs, action lovers
The beginning of WWI - I knew so little beyond the assassination of the Arch Duke and the basic outline of conflict. This is a really good book. It is a well-written chronicle of a gripping story, truly a page turner. I am glad we read The Proud Tower first as it set a good foundation for understanding some of the motivations of the main characters.
Jason Bell
Feb 14, 2013 Jason Bell rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned-books, history
excellent well written detailed exposition of the the first month of WWI, and the second book is an excellent portrait of the world leading up to WWI.
Christoph Weber
Mar 01, 2014 Christoph Weber rated it it was ok
Shelves: military
Diesmal ein Klassiker zum Thema #WW1 The Guns of August - handelt leider nicht nur vom August
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Barbara Wertheim Tuchman was an American self-trained historian and author and double Pulitzer Prize winner. She became best known for The Guns of August (1962), a history of the prelude and first month of World War I.

As an author, Tuchman focused on producing popular history. Her clear, dramatic storytelling covered topics as diverse as the 14th century and World War I, and sold millions of copie
More about Barbara W. Tuchman...

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