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The Guns of August

4.2 of 5 stars 4.20  ·  rating details  ·  20,719 ratings  ·  1,068 reviews
"More dramatic than fiction...THE GUNS OF AUGUST is a magnificent narrative--beautifully organized, elegantly phrased, skillfully paced and sustained....The product of painstaking and sophisticated research."CHICAGO TRIBUNEHistorian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Barbara Tuchman has brought to life again the people and events that led up to Worl War I. With attention to ...more
Kindle Edition, 640 pages
Published (first published 1962)
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revcodes This book is about the beginning of World War I.

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Kalliope




On the night of the 13th of August 1961 the Government of East Germany began to build the Wall that divided Berlin isolating its Western part within the Communist Eastern block.

In 1962, Barbara Tuchman published her Guns of August and the following year it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

As many years separate Tuchman’s book from the events she discusses as years separate us from the time its publication: about half a century.

Those two lots of five decades each may explain two different reactions
...more
Paul
Well, how d'you do, Private Willie McBride, First Class - do you mind if I sit down down here by your graveside? It's so nice to rest for awhile in the warm summer sun... I've been walking all day and I'm nearly done in. Well. So, Willie - I see by your gravestone you were only nineteen when you joined the glorious fallen. 1916 - a long time ago now. Well I hope you died quick and I hope you died clean. But Private Willie McBride, it could have been slow and obscene. Let's not think of that. And ...more
Trevor
May 06, 2009 Trevor rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Trevor by: richard wood
Shelves: history
You could almost be excused for thinking that the highest praise one could give a work of non-fiction would be that it reads like a work of fiction. I haven’t looked at any of the other reviews for this book yet, but I would be prepared to bet that many of them say this read like a novel. And it is an incredibly dramatic story and some of the characters are larger than life – but this is no novel.

I say that because in a novel you expect at least some of the characters to develop during it – and
...more
Lilo
Nov 23, 2014 Lilo rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone who hasn't read it yet
Shelves: history, wwi
“The Guns of August” is the first book I read about the Great War or, as I knew it, World War One. “The Guns of August” is also the first substantial information I obtained about this war.

I was born in Germany, in 1939. My family, then containing of my parents, my biological maternal grandmother, and my adoptive maternal grandmother (my biological grand-aunt), talked very little about WWI, probably because WWII was raging, food as well as all other supplies were scarce, and we were surrounded b
...more
Sue
After reading this book 100 years, sometimes to the day, after some of the events happened, it is difficult to know what to say. Others have written so many excellent reviews. I believe that I will focus on reaction for my review---reaction 100 years after the fact to the apparent ease with which the European world, and then much more, slid into an horrific spilling of blood, the ease with which several leaders gave orders which condemned millions of people to death; cities, towns, even small na ...more
Lobstergirl
Jul 28, 2012 Lobstergirl rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lobstergirl by: Rafalca
Shelves: european-history, own
This is an excellent but somewhat odd book; odd because the emphasis is so much more on the military than the political that you're left wondering why, how, precisely, this war was so inevitable. Granted, the political leaders are discussed in the first few chapters, the German Kaiser and the Russian Czar more so than the French and the British. But the stress is on the generals, and the war planners, on Schlieffen, whose plan had been prepared in 1905-06 and seemed to be restlessly waiting for ...more
Chrissie
Phew, this was a difficult book to digest in the audiobook format. Neither is it easy to digest in a paper book format. It is dense. It is detailed. Names and places and battles are thrown at you in rapid succession. You have to remember who is who, which corps is fighting where and its number, the title of each commander and more. You do not have time to stop and think and recall what was told to you minutes/pages or even hours/chapters before. You need more than a detailed map because you don’ ...more
Stephen
6.0 stars. WOW!! This book was AMAZING!! I have always been very interested in World War II and have read quite a few books on the subject. However, until reading THIS book I had never endeavored to learn anything more than the basics of World War I. With the reading of this incredible book, I have taken a tremendous step towards correcting that deficit.

Focusing on the first 30 days of World War I (hence the title), this beautifully written book addresses in great detail the causes for the conf
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Evan Leach
"Dead battles, like dead generals, hold the military mind in their dead grip, and Germans no less than other peoples prepare for the last war."
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Barbara Tuchman, The Guns of August.

img: German Cavalry

In her Pulitzer-Prize winning classic The Guns of August, the story of the first month of World War I, Barbara Tuchman argues convincingly that August 1914 was when the Gilded Age died and the modern era really began. The book opens with a famous depiction of Edward VII’s funeral in 1910, attended by all the kings a
...more
Darwin8u
The Guns of August which I read in September

What an amazing piece of historical writing. Tuchman shows how August, 2014 was impacted by two failed plans (Plan 17 & the Schlieffen Plan), Generals and politicos who were either overly optimistic at the wrong time or overly pessimistic at the wrong time. She detailed how inadvertent acts by disgraced Generals might have saved France, how the politics and the national moods of France, Germany, Russia, and Great Britain may have contributed to the
...more
Mark Mortensen
In the 19th Century Henry David Thoreau eloquently stated: “I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” In the 20th Century, Barbara W. Tuchman full of vision, passion, discipline and self confidence, pursued her American dream and found such success. The historian extraordinaire lacked a PhD but proved to critics that her ...more
Gail
I don't like technical books about military maneuvers--all that blather about Colonel Blimp, General von Bomb-them-all, and Prince Icantmakeupmymind, and the 5th Army Group attacks the XVI Corps on the right salient---yawn...
Welcome to a book that makes all this nearly understandable.

Tuchman gives a great picture of the men who made the fatal errors of judgement which led to the four years of hell known as WW I and then resulted in, twenty years later, the even worse agony known as WW II. She i
...more
BrokenTune
Nope. Maybe it is this particular audiobook version, but I'm really not feeling the love for this book.

With The Guns of August, Tuchman wrote this incredibly detailed account of the first month of WWI - and the detail is staggering, so much so that it might even be somewhat overwhelming and that somehow this detail detracts a little from what otherwise looks like a one-sided portrayal. I mean the detail staggering (and the only aspect that kept me reading this far) and includes a lot of detail o
...more
Clark Zlotchew
As always, Barbara W. Tuchman delves deeply into the historical subject matter. This book is about the First World War, its causes, the conduct of it, and the results. I see that what I've just written in the preceding sentence doesn't sound inviting; it comes off as dry and uninteresting. But this book is anything but that. It is actually exciting in its description of the progress of the war, and the various armies. It is also fascinating to burrow into the causes and the intrigue involved. It ...more
Gadi
I let go at around page 280 (out of 440 in my edition), when I started realizing that every paragraph is so chunked up with minute details about this general moving these troops out of this place and into this wing on this day because of these emotions and this miscommunication and this people's overconfidence that it just all became so trivial and so unbelievably lifeless--which in a weird way completely contradicts all of the GR reviews I've read about how this book brings life to the first mo ...more
John
Barbara Tuchman did not have a PHD, “It’s what saved me, I think” she said, believing that academic life can stultify imagination, stifle enthusiasm and deaden prose style. After all, Herodotus, Thucydides, Gibbon, Mac Cauley and Parkman did not have PhD’s.” Her dealings with the press and critics were cautious and in their reviews of this book described her as a fifty-year-old housewife, a mother of three daughters and the spouse of a prominent New York physician. More succinctly, how could she ...more
Charissa
Jan 22, 2008 Charissa rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: peaceniks, warmongers, history buffs, and everyone in between
Recommended to Charissa by: my ex-husband
This was the first non-fiction history book that read so much like a good novel that I screamed through it almost without pausing for breath. I knew bits and pieces about World War I before this... but the persistent idiocy of so many involved simply held me riveted to the pages. One of my favorite bits is how the French kept insisting on wearing their red uniforms as they charged through field and forest toward machine gun fire. They just couldn't wrap their heads around the idea that "elan" ju ...more
KF-in-Georgia
The narration is excellent. And, of course, the book is a classic, with vivid, gorgeous writing. The opening paragraph is justifiably famous:

So gorgeous was the spectacle on the May morning of 1910 when nine kings rode in the funeral of Edward VII of England that the crowd, waiting in hushed and black-clad awe, could not keep back gasps of admiration. In scarlet and blue and green and purple, three by three the sovereigns rode through the palace gates, with plumed helmets, gold braid, crimson sa
...more
Silvana
The Guns of August is the best researched book I’ve ever read so far with such poised and skillful narrative style. Tuchman managed to entertain her readers with vivid, incredible details about the prelude to the first thirty days of World War I. She never cease in captivating our minds with epic tales of bravery, cowardice and indecisiveness.

Did I say “entertain”? Ah indeed, this book is indubitably a remarkable form of entertainment. Battles, maneuvers, and actions in the field plus debates (
...more
Mark
Feb 13, 2014 Mark rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans and seekers of history
Recommended to Mark by: history buffs
My knowledge up to this year about WOI could be condensed in: my country was "neutral" in this conflict, it was trenchwarfare and in a sense the first act in the social change coming in the 20th century. When it came to content I really never learned anything about this period. While reading this book I did watch several documentaries by the BBC, the Great War & Royal cousins, and an earier documantary by the BBC about the Great War that won three emmy's.

Barbara Tuchman does have a very nice
...more
HuhWhat
I had a lot of fun reading this book. I appreciated the detail around the troop movements, the Generals' actions, and the politics going on in the back rooms and out in the open, on both sides of the war. I listened to the audiobook so getting maps to accompany it was essential but poring over the maps I found turned out to be half the fun ! The narration was excellent, couldn't have asked for better on my 1st attempt at an audiobook.
Jon
4 to 4.5 stars.

Thanks to Barbara, I now know more about the first month of World War I than all my previous half-century of accumulated, absorbed knowledge. Not only do I know more, but I understand the how. How Europe ended up in a terrible stalemate and war of attrition that lasted four more years. The why will have to wait until I can read her other history The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890-1914.

On August 23rd, I attended a discussion of The Guns of August sponsor
...more
Laura
Undoubtedly the best book on the Great War, showing an extensive research work made by the author.

Jay
This 1962 Pulitzer Prize-winning book is a classic of political and military history, and just a few pages in it becomes obvious why. Tuchman is able to describe the far-off world of 1914, a hundred years ago (though only 50 to her, at the time), with its emperors and princes and populations for whom war meant glory, in ways that allow us moderns to comprehend it and feel familiar with it. To say there was a diverse and numerous cast of characters driving events in world affairs in those days wo ...more
David
I've read some books on WW II recently, and realized I don't know much about WW I - so decided to remedy that with this Pulitzer Prize winner, considered by many to be one of the best histories ever written. It's a broad and comprehensive treatment of the month preceding the start of the conflict, and the first month of the war itself. Listening to the audiobook made everything seem a bit sterile and unimaginative and complicated at first, but it picked up as I got more into it. I think this is ...more
Jeppe Engell Engell
Jeg købte denne bog fordi jeg fandt på en liste over bøger man bare skal læse. Jeg har aldrig interesseret mig særligt meget for 1 verdenskrig, men tænkte at jeg måtte prøve at give denne bog en chance.
Jeg købte bogen til min Kindle og tænkte derfor ikke over hvor mange sider bogen er på, derfor blev jeg noget nervøs da introduktion til bog, bare blev ved og ved. Men bogen er udgivet for mange år siden og den udgave jeg købte var en nyere udgave, derfor var det nødvendigt med en lang introdukti
...more
Cphe
Read this as part of the 100 year anniversary of the Great War. This was an intense and very dense read. Not a book you can sit down and just read. It needs to be assimilated. I had some trouble sorting all of the political and military leaders that were introduced. An interesting and well presented delivery of a profound and influential time in history.
Mike
5 Stars for The Guns of August. I won't take the time to do a review because there are so many good reviews already here.
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... is a good place to start. As we approach the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI, I suggest reading this one. It is exciting, instructive and scholarly all at the same time. This is the way to write history! I am fired up to read more of Tuchman's work. She deserved the praise and awards she received for this book.
Neil
I felt as if it took me as long to read this book as it did for the Great War to end. I started in the first week of July with every intention of finishing it before August was over in commemoration of the centennial of the War to End All Wars. As usual, I was only half-way done a month later and the Boston Public Library refused to renew it for me again because some other equally minded reader was waiting for it. I had no alternative but to go to my town public library with my hat in my hand, p ...more
AC
Excellent narrative.

Still listening, but much, much better than I had expected -- The comparison (in her foreword to the new edition) with Thucydides is ridiculous, of course. And this is not an academic history based on archival research. But her instincts are good, imo -- and it is a clear, and well-paced narrative. Perfect for an audible.
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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...
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 Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-45

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“The muffled tongue of Big Ben tolled nine by the clock as the cortege left the palace, but on history's clock it was sunset, and the sun of the old world was setting in a dying blaze of splendor never to be seen again.” 16 likes
“So gorgeous was the spectacle on the May morning of 1910 when nine kings rode in the funeral of Edward VII of England that the crowd, waiting in hushed and black-clad awe, could not keep back gasps of admiration. In scarlet and blue and green and purple, three by three the sovereigns rode through the palace gates, with plumed helmets, gold braid, crimson sashes, and jeweled orders flashing in the sun. After them came five heirs apparent, forty more imperial or royal highnesses, seven queens - four dowager and three regnant - and a scattering of special ambassadors from uncrowned countries. Together they represented seventy nations in the greatest assemblage of royalty and rank ever gathered in one place and, of its kind, the last. The muffled tongue of Big Ben tolled nine by the clock as the cortege left the palace, but on history's clock it was sunset, and the sun of the old world was setting in a dying blaze of splendor never to be seen again.” 12 likes
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