August 1914
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August 1914

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  1,095 ratings  ·  55 reviews
/Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn /Harry T. Willetts, editor To his depiction of the outbreak of World War I and of the Russian offensive into East Prussia and defeat at Tannenberg, Solzhenitsyn has added a brilliant reconstruction of the assa
Hardcover, 645 pages
Published December 31st 1972 by Bodley Head (first published January 5th 1970)
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Capsguy
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...more
Emma
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.
Carol
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.
L Fleisig
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
Huw Evans
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
Robert
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
Benedict Waldstein
A new war and Peace!
A magnificent torso sadly unfinished. Any body who likes war and peace should definatly read this.
Jemma
One of the most marvellously complex novels I've ever read. Clearly an author to be spoken of in the same bracket as Dickens, Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. I suspect the length of the novel however has prevented this from being one of his more well known works. Indeed, you do need at least an outline of WWI on the Eastern Front to be able to follow the first few hundred pages. If you do however, this novel repays you handsomely. The sheer frustration of watching the tragedy unfold from several perspec...more
Jan-Maat
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...more
Joe
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...more
brian
this has definitely been the hardest A.S. book for me to complete. towards the end i felt like i was just plodding along trying to get to the end with no real payoff. i found the book slightly anti-climactic (much like WWI itself) and wished that some of the chapters dealing with minor characters had been omitted completely for the sake of flow and continuity. i know it's only the first part of a larger work, but i felt the book could have stood on it's own if the focus had been more on the two...more
Robert Seaman
It hard to call this a novel. It's really Solzhenitzen's attempt to set the record straight wrt the Battle of Tannenburg. The sheer craziness of it all is readily apparent. There is little doubt as to the incompetency of the Russian/Soviet military hierarchy; though much the same can be seen in most military organizations. I guess you could call it a "poor man's" 'All Quiet on the Western Front', but it is not in that realm of quality. His attempt to personalize the character fall short of that....more
Adelaide
Like The First Circle, August 1914 is chock full of memorable characters, most of them stuck in the wheels of some larger machine they can't stop (despite their efforts). In this case, it is the Russian military. Solzhenitsyn paints a pretty graphic pictures of the organizational, technological, and leadership lackings of the army as it enters World War I. It is frustrating, almost painful, to watch the blunderings of generals seeking self-advancement, personal safety, honors, or just blindly bl...more
Patrick
This is kind of an odd book. I'd like to know more about the factions of Russia at the teim of writing that would have influenced the text.

It's basically en embellished millitary history of a botched battle at the start of WWI. There's a lot of millitary beuracratic incompetence. The more interesting parts are the character building parts where he gives you these glimpses into different characters lives before and after the war. It's interesting to see how he views the lives of those involved as...more
VeganMedusa
Lots of characters to try and keep track of - particularly difficult with all the army men. Also when a character is introduced in the first 100 pages and then we don't see them again for over 500 pages, it's hard to remember!
But an amazing book. Poor Samsonov - he tried so hard but was fighting against general incompetence, fatigue, etc. And Vorotyntsev was a heroic character that I really rooted for, but it was obvious that with all the high-up positions based on cronyism and noble relatives (...more
A Kritzer
An absolutely excellent book that really puts you in the minds of the Russian leadership as war breaks out. Bit by bit you see the campaign fall apart as the Russian high command loses control of the battles.
John
This was my third Solzienitsyn book and my last. The book covered the first two weeks of WW1. too much, too many characters who were mentioned one time then not again for 400 pages. Out of the entire book, there is only one line I will remember, It was a quote by Tolstoy. HOW CAN YOU ENJOY LLINING UP WORDS IN RANKS LIKE SOLDIERS ACCORDING TO THEIR SOUNDS? CHILDISH NONSENSE ' It's unnatural. The job of words is to express thoughts, and you don"t find much thought in poetry. do you? There's a lot...more
Syd
Whew! That was a long haul, this book isn't for the weak. Basically this is a historical novel about the outbreak of WWI and the battle of Tannenberg. Between the many (and expected) battle scenes, however, Solzhenitsyn describes the ineptitude of the leadership with a biting sarcasm. There were many times I would've laughed at how comical the battle "plan" was if it weren't for the fact that so many men died because of the sheer lunacy of it all.

And personally, I think if anyone spends twelve y...more
Colin
I ended up liking this book, one that had not come to my attention before. I suffers, as other Russian authors, with over elaboration of detail which swells the text to 622 pages. A number of character's appear and not all appear to find an ending, having been abandoned during the story. I also find the Russian names difficult to follow in that everyone appears to have several and a character does not appear to be called the same name throughout. The book does show up the elitist monarchy and th...more
The Hancock
To me Russian history is nearly always sad and Solzhenitsyn's fictionally embellished account of Russian military activity on the German front during the first days of World War I does fail in this regard. Some of the characters that are presented disappear for such long periods that when they reappeared I had forgotten who they were. For me, the non-military characters did not enhance the story in any way. They were just 'there,' something to read through until the story returned to the main th...more
John
This is Solzhenitsyn's account of the first months of the Russian's involvement in World War I on the German front. The book is a great account of the years leading to the Russian Revolution. It is clear that Russia is in decline and has lost any military advantage it might have over its neighbors. The tsar has also lost his luster and the political will has turned from him toward revolution. This is a good book for those who enjoy Russian literature and those interested in the period.
Michael
An engaging historical novel but certainly not in the same league as Tolstoy. The story concerns a military campaign in the ealy days of the first world war. Russia suffers a major defeat by Germany and is sacrificed by military bureaucracy. The novel covers a few days during a battle which is a disaster for the Russians. Many characters and some difficult to follow military strategy.
Tiffany
This is the only book I have read in this series but if I have the time I would continue on. There are many characters to keep track of, which I did not find overly difficult. The attention to detail is amazing and I enjoyed accounts of the German characters as well as the Russian. You can get bogged down sometimes but I soldiered on and felt it was worth it in the end.
Kirsten
I don't know why but it was hard for me to get into this book. I love Russian history, so it wasn't like I was uninterested...I felt like the plot was all over the place. None of the characters were given a chance to develop enough (or to my liking) and their Russian names only compounded the problem. I really need to read his Gulag Archipelago...
Joshua
Imperial Russia's defeat at the Battle of Tannenberg in East Prussia, known in Russian history as the Battle of the Masurian Lakes. 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.
Don Mccord
I liked it, but really only for history nerds. Lots of detail on Russia just before the fall of the Czars, and the euphoria going into World War I which was snuffed out by a military disaster in the first month. Lots of detail on the 1914 Battle of Tannenberg, but told in third person narrative instead of a fact recital.
Khalekan
Excellent novel, the greatest war nivel I have ever read.

One thing I couldn't understand.

Solzhenitsyn sets out to tell the story of the Battle of Tannenburg but that town is mentioned once as far as I can recall and the action takes place in all the small towns to the east and west of it.
Nosemonkey
Genuinely awesome. One to re-read for 2014, as one of the best accounts of the start of WWI I've come across. Major shame he never finished the series...
Rock
Anyone who has ever had a stupid incompetent boss will enjoy this book. Or, I guess, people who like war and stuff. Actually I think Solzhenitsyn could write a book about historical fluctuations in the price of tires and it would be fun to read, or at least to skim.
Jim
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 trenches...it is not surprising the Russians revolted shortly after.
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Solzhenitsyn has died... 4 18 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
More about Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn...
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956 Cancer Ward The First Circle The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, books III-IV

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