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The Guns of August/The Proud Tower

4.48 of 5 stars 4.48  ·  rating details  ·  130 ratings  ·  17 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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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
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
Tim Diggles
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
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
Gary Land
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
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
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
Interesting, worth the read not boring three chapters in.
Kate Blumenthal
Dec 16, 2014 Kate Blumenthal rated it 4 of 5 stars
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.
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
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).

Christoph Weber
Diesmal ein Klassiker zum Thema #WW1 The Guns of August - handelt leider nicht nur vom August
Jason Bell
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.
Both are quite good, but I preferred The Proud Tower for its wider sweep of time and events.
Larry Benfield
I learned much about the beginnings of WWI.
Jun 02, 2013 Mark added it
Very enjoyable,well written
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Barbara Wertheim Tuchman was an American self-trained historian and author. She became best known for The Guns of August, 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 copies.
More about Barbara W. Tuchman...
The Guns of August A Distant Mirror:  The Calamitous 14th Century The Proud Tower : A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890-1914 The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam The Zimmermann Telegram

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