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August 1914 (The Red Wheel #1)

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  1,798 Ratings  ·  116 Reviews
In the first month of the First World War the Russian campaign against the Germans creaks into gear. Crippled by weak, indecisive leadership the Russian troops battle desperately, even as the inevitability of failure and their own sacrifice dawns. Solzhenitsyn’s astounding work of historical fiction is a portrait of pre-revolutionary Russia, a tragic war story, and an epic ...more
Hardcover, 645 pages
Published December 31st 1972 by Bodley Head (first published January 1st 1971)
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Feb 01, 2011 Ray rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Bought secondhand and devoured in a single overnight reading. Back in the day when I could do an overnight read - my rock and roll years.

Re-read and enjoyed a couple of times since.

An excellent read.
Jan 24, 2016 Bettie☯ rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: BBC Radio Listeners
Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Isca Silurum

Description: A new adaptation for radio of Nobel Prize-winner Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's epic story of the first battle of the Eastern Front in 1914 - which was a disaster for Russia. Solzhenitsyn's book was published in the West one year after he won the prize - with sections about Lenin omitted. It was only after his expulsion from the USSR that the complete book was available. This new production is narrated by Fiona Shaw.

In August 1914, Colonel Vorotynts
Feb 21, 2011 Capsguy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russian, war
Ever wanted to smack someone in the face because of their insistent incompetency and blatant disregard for others just because of their own self-interests? Then you're going to have a lot of sympathy for the Russian soldiers who lost their lives in Russia's opening campaign in World War I.

As always, typical Russian/Solzhenitsyn epic, wide array of characters caught up in something bigger than them with each having different opinions on religion, politics, and society. Not as 'great' as Cancer W
This is probably my favorite book of all time. Alexander Solzhenitsyn was brilliant. If you don't like WWI history, this book is not for you, but it was excellent. It was fiction, but centred around the campaign in Tannenburg, Prussia. There wasn't much of a plot other than the campaign, though the characters made up for it, and is the first in a series of four, the last of which has not been translated into English as yet. It was 622 pages, but well worth reading.

Just short of 5/5 because some bits I found really hard to get through and I say this as a fan of russian literature and history.

I wouldn't recommend this to someone who's just getting into russian literature. If you have no knowledge of the Battle of Tannenberg nor late 19th / early 20th century russian history and politics, you might as well do some reading first or else you won't enjoy the first 300 pages nor the rest of the book for that matter.

There's a long chapter in which he treats
question whether I read this back in the day when I was reading Solzhenitsyn.
L Fleisig
Sep 09, 2012 L Fleisig rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aleksandr Solzhenitzyn's ("A.S.") August 1914: The Red Wheel paints a marvelous portrait of Russia at the crossroads of the 20th century. By way of background, I read David Remnick's Resurrection about Russia's post -USSR struggles. Remnick writes a beautiful chapter on A.S., his life, his exile, Western Europe and the U.S. intelligentsia's dismissive treatment of him, and his return to Russia. Reminick's extraordinary discourse on A.S. is the perfect prelude to this work because it allows the r ...more
It is important to bear in mind that with the end of the Cold War the funding to translate Solzhenitsyn dried up. There is after all plenty of nationalistic Russian writing from the nineteenth century available in English. The only advantage that Solzhenitsyn had over Tolstoy and Dostoevsky was that he happened to be anti-communist, but after 1991 that wasn't of so much interest any more either.

The centre of the novel, told from many points of view with a mixture of historical and fictional char
From BBC Radio 3 - Drama on 3:
A new adaptation for radio of Nobel Prize-winner Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's epic story of the first battle of the Eastern Front in 1914 - which was a disaster for Russia. Solzhenitsyn's book was published in the West one year after he won the prize - with sections about Lenin omitted. It was only after his expulsion from the USSR that the complete book was available. This new production is narrated by Fiona Shaw.

In August 1914, Colonel Vorotyntsev advances into East P
Huw Evans
Aug 26, 2011 Huw Evans rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, fiction, russian
Ironically,I am writing this review on the 11th November. I have categorised it as fiction but there is a strong factual element - can I call it military faction? After Ivan Denisovich, the size of this book came as a surprise and the writing expands to fill the space between the covers, without lapse or hiatus. We remember our own war dead, but seem to have forgotten that the Russians lost twice as many men as did the UK. The appalling carnage at the beginning of the war is well described where ...more
Sep 08, 2009 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a must read book for anyone who is interested in almost any aspect of European literature and/or Russian history and literature. Solzhenitsyn has a way of writing that immediately involves the reader in the scene, the characters, the situation he creates. He develops characters that stay with one, and makes one want to read more and more about their lives. After this, I read Cancer Ward and First Circle and he creates worlds within worlds in these books as well.
Aug 06, 2014 Mimi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I correctly anticipated how appropriate it would feel to read this in August 2014 - exactly 100 years after the events in this novel. I did not anticipate how eager I would be to return each time to this amazing novel, discovering well drawn characters, a scathing indictment of Russian military culture at the beginning of the Great War, and a humbling and breathtaking faith. Definitely one to re-read.
Aaron Crofut
Jan 30, 2011 Aaron Crofut rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I leave this book wondering why the Battle of Tannenberg isn't more widely studied by military history buffs. The Germans, initially caught off guard by the rapid speed of Russia's invasion of East Prussia, manage to defeat an enemy twice their size due to their better command structure, logistics, and by the incredible blunders made by their enemy, not least of which includes sending plans through telegraph wires without encoding them first. Though a work of fiction, the battle itself is presen ...more
Guy Portman
Oct 15, 2016 Guy Portman rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russian
3.5 Stars

Set in the years leading up to The Revolution, this monumental book is Solzhenitsyn’s interpretation of a turbulent period in his country’s history, beginning with the outbreak of World War I. We follow Russia’s invasion of East Prussia, a hapless campaign, culminating in the near destruction of the Second Army at the Battle of Tannenburg, and the suicide of its commanding general, the blundering Alexander Samsonov.

Subsequent sections encompass the life of Prime Minister Pyotr Stolypin
Oct 29, 2011 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The First World War was so wasteful of human life on all sides. This shows the Russian high command to be as inept as the British High Command and the victims are the poor proletariat fighting in the is not surprising the Russians revolted shortly after.
Timons Esaias
I read the original version of this soon after it came out in English, at the beginning of the '70s, along with Lenin in Zurich. I liked it a lot, and it led me to much further reading on the subject of the Russian Front of WWI. I admired the novel in its original form, with its many memorable scenes, and desperate situations. I've owned the "Red Wheel" version since it came out, and finally got around to reading it.

Solzenhenitsyn's additions and revisions turned it into a shapeless mess, to be
Apr 07, 2013 Kim rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
"August 1914" is a novel by Russian novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn about Imperial Russia's defeat at the Battle of Tannenberg in East Prussia. The novel was completed in 1970, first published in 1971, and an English translation was first published in 1972. The novel is an unusual blend of fiction narrative and historiography, and has given rise to extensive and often bitter controversy, both from the literary as well as from the historical point of view.

Now that first paragraph is directly from
Jun 11, 2017 Walter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In this novel, Soviet Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitzyn takes on the theme of the Russian Army in the opening months of the First World War. This novel was exceptionally well written, and it is surprising to me that more enthusiasts of the First World War are not talking about it. Perhaps it's because the novel was written in the late 1960s, long after the heyday of Great War literature in the 1930s. Perhaps it's because the novel is about the Russian army and not one of the Western armies a ...more
Robert burke
Jun 08, 2017 Robert burke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first in Solzhenitsyn's epic novels about Russia in the First World War, November 1916 is the second. Unless you can read Russian or French, the last two novels haven't been translated into English. In November, the University of Notre Dames is publishing March 1917, the third volume. It will be translated by Marian Schwartz. Hopefully the fourth volume is in the works.
Jul 08, 2014 Jonathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
It's hard not to add to all the comments that have already been made on this book. Yes it was a marathon and a tough read, but I can't help but appreciate the man's genius while doing so. It's difficult to recommend, but also difficult to give a low rating as a result. I learned a lot, personally, from reading this.

Reading some of the background of the battle described from other accounts, it's disturbing to think how pivotal the battle of Tannenburg was to world history. The German army had the
Drew Eckert
Mar 21, 2017 Drew Eckert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a good book.

Solzhenitsyn is an outstanding author. By the time that I read August 1914 I had gotten through Cancer Ward, One Day in the life..., and The First Circle. About halfway through the book is when Solzhenitsyn's rhetoric started to get tiring. While I understand he had plenty of reasons to hate Russian/Soviet government, he starts to lay it on pretty thick. To the point where I think it starts to detract from the overall story.

August 1914 is about the defeat of Russia's army in a
Michelle L
Nov 01, 2014 Michelle L rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Solzhenitsyn provides an account of the events surrounding the failed Russian army intiatives of mid-August in 1914. His focus is not only on the First Army (led by the hapless and nervous General Samsonov), but also the attempts of the brave Colonel Vorotyntsev to salvage a victory for Russia.
These events are all set amidst a backdrop of tense social and politicial rumbling (which will ultimately leave to great upheaval). Solzhenitsyn peeks into the lives of every day Russians and focuses on h
Jul 28, 2013 Joe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazingly good book. Solzhenitsyn does for the Great War in the east what Tolstoy did for the Napolianic wars of 1805 and 1812. But this is a series of perfect doorstops. Each of the volumes makes "War and Peace" look like a novella. But I always like a big, fat, thick novel ... even better if it is a Russian novel.

Solzhenitsyn does a wonderful job describing then Battle of Tannenburg (confused valor on the part of the Russians; effective leadership and uses of railroads by the Germa
Stephen Paper
Nov 08, 2015 Stephen Paper rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful book, even better if you read it in combination with Barbara Tuchman's Guns Of August
Benedict Waldstein
A new war and Peace!
A magnificent torso sadly unfinished. Any body who likes war and peace should definitely read this.
Strong Extraordinary Dreams
Warning: Make sure you have a map; there is probably one at the back of the book. Look at the map before you start reading and constantly follow it. I didn't realize until the last pages that my book had a map in it, so I got very confused and kept on wishing for one. Don't make my mistake.

August 1914 gives a good soldier-on-the-ground account of the Russian's disastrous invasion of Austria in August 1914. Largely a cultural rather than a military account, this book tries to get inside the sold
Feb 06, 2014 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Before I write anything else, I want to emphasize that Alexander Solzhenitsyn's August 1914 is a splendid, ambitious book. It puts on full display all of his talents as a novelist who creates intriguing characters, moves easily through different dimensions of society (rural, urban, upper class, military class, aristocracy, intelligentsia), and carries heavy narrative burdens with unflagging strength. By the end of his life, Solzhenitsyn was considered something of a nationalistic, messianic cran ...more
Feb 15, 2008 Nate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this was the first edition of the book which solzhenitsyn had stated he disliked the translation of, and has some stuff cut. of course i didnt realise this until like half way through so i decided to finish it anyways so take this with a grain of salt that some of these complaints might be addressed in the second revised edition, which i'd like to eventually read someday.

only reading ivan denisovich before, i really wanted to read some of solzhenitsyn's longer works. clearly inspired by "war an
Aug 03, 2013 Kevin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Much as every American writer is said to be driven to write the thus-unwritten “Great American Novel,” every Russian writer seems driven to re-write Tolstoy’s War and Peace. This is especially clear in August, which has one of its many characters visit Tolstoy’s estate on the way to the muster grounds, in order to tell him how great he was. Reading this made me realize that one of the reasons I enjoyed Solzhenitsyn’s A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is its succinct format—as the title makes ...more
David Miller
Feb 13, 2017 David Miller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great book, a very easy read due to the fluid writing and the excellent translation (I suppose it is excellent - certainly easy to read in English). But very hard to read due to the unbearable tragedy of the subject matter. I could hardly get through the story of the peasant turned successful landholder, knowing what was in store for him in just a few short years.

Some scenes are drawn with painterly sharpness. Lenin arriving at a train station in Zurich, watching closely the crowds driven by
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Goodreads Librari...: what if a book has been translated twice? 7 44 Jun 19, 2015 10:04AM  
Solzhenitsyn has died... 4 28 Aug 04, 2008 09:42AM  
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Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn was a Soviet and Russian novelist, dramatist, and historian. Through his writings he helped to make the world aware of the Gulag, the Soviet Union's forced labor camp system – particularly The Gulag Archipelago and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, two of his best-known works.

Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970. He was exiled from
More about Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn...

Other Books in the Series

The Red Wheel (2 books)
  • November 1916 (The Red Wheel #2)

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“Why is it that all the main work of breaking down human souls went on at night? Why, from their very earliest years, did the Organs select the night? Because at night, the prisoner torn from sleep, even though he has not yet been tortured by sleeplessness, lacks his normal daytime equanimity and common sense. He is more vulnerable.” 2 likes
“As he spoke, he looked into their faces and saw, as though in his own features, that fundamentally they all bore the indelible impress of a similar background: army tradition; long spells of garrison service in a world isolated from the rest of society; a sense of alienation, of being despised by that society and ridiculed by liberal writers; the official ban on discussing politics and political literature, resulting in a blunting or stultifying of the intellect; a permanent shortage of money; and yet, despite it all, the knowledge that they represented, in purified and concentrated form, the vitality and courage of the whole nation.” 1 likes
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