Bettie☯'s Reviews > The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890-1914

The Proud Tower by Barbara W. Tuchman
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Mar 06, 2014

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bookshelves: summer-2010, fraudio, history, victorian, edwardian, published-1966, dip-in-now-and-again
Read from August 25 to September 03, 2010

** spoiler alert ** Read By..........: Nadia May
Genre............: History
Publisher........: Blackstone
Year.............: 2005
Unabridged.......: Yes
Language.........: English
Total Duration...: 21 hours 48 minutes

blurb - "The diplomatic origins, so-called, of the War are only the fever chart of the patient; they do not tell us what caused the fever. To probe for underlying causes and deeper forces one must operate within the framework of a whole society and try to discover what moved the people in it." (Barbara W. Tuchman)

The fateful quarter-century leading up to World War I was a time when the world of privilege still existed in Olympian luxury and the world of protest was heaving in its pain, its power, and its hate. The age was the climax of a century of the most accelerated rate of change in history, a cataclysmic shaping of destiny.

In The Proud Tower, Barbara Tuchman concentrates on society rather than the state. With an artist's selectivity, Tuchman brings to vivid life the people, places, and events that shaped the years leading up to the Great War: the Edwardian aristocracy and the end of their reign; the Anarchists of Europe and America, who voiced the protest of the oppressed; Germany, as portrayed through the figure of the self-depicted hero, Richard Strauss; the sudden gorgeous blaze of Diaghilev's Russian Ballet and Stravinsky's music; the Dreyfus Affair; the two Peace Conferences at the Hague; and, finally, the youth, ideals, enthusiasm, and tragedy of Socialism, epitomized in the moment when the heroic Jean Jaures was shot to death on the night the War began and an epoch ended.

From AudioFile

Blackstone's inspired pairing of narrator Nadia May with the work of Barbara Tuchman introduces a new generation to the pleasures of one of the twentieth century's most popular and esteemed historians. This panorama of the world pre-WWI calls upon May to display her considerable powers of stamina and mimicry. She skillfully conveys Tuchman's detachment and sense of perspective, her wit and command of language, and her gift for the telling and defining detail. May also demonstrates the power of the audiobook to bring to life the essential character of a text, as well as its underlying structure and continuity. Written for a general audience, this outstanding title is highly recommended, both on its own and as a prelude to Tuchman's masterpiece, THE GUNS OF AUGUST

c drive/home

To contrast with The Three Emperors: Three Cousins, Three Empires and the Road to World War One

After just one section I would announce that this is infinitely circumlocutional and the three emperors is winning hands down.

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Reading Progress

08/25/2010 page 1
0.0% "The Patricians England 1895 - 1902"
08/25/2010 page 1
0.0% "Let's have some fun at the expense of Lord Salisbury...

08/25/2010 page 1
0.0% ""
08/25/2010 page 1
0.0% ""
08/25/2010 page 1
0.0% "

Cartoon, showing Erin, Lord Salisbury and Gladstone, 1884.
Erin is tied to a tree by coercive measures. In front of her are Lord Salisbury and Gladstone (with Midlothian shield) dressed as seventeenth-century [...]"
08/25/2010 page 1
0.0% " Erin's Suitors. Cartoon by William O'Brien, 1884.
Erin caught between two lecherous suitors for her affections—Gladstone and Salisbury. Caption underneath reads: The Proud Beauty. Erin—Which shall it [...]"
08/25/2010 page 1
0.0% "[image error]

Li Hung Chang With Lord Salisbury and Lord Curzon."
08/25/2010 page 1
0.0% "

Lord Salisbury & Randolph Churchill secure the support
of the Music Hall Stars

From The Penny Illustrated, issue 1313, Saturday August the 7th 1886"
08/26/2010 page 2
0.0% "The Idea and the Deed.The Anarchists 1880-1814"
08/26/2010 page 2
0.0% "[image error]"
08/28/2010 page 3
1.0% "The Anarchists 1890 - 1914 : End of a Dream - The US"
08/30/2010 page 3
1.0% ""We started off trying to set up a small anarchist community, but people wouldn't obey the rules. "
— Alan Bennett"
08/30/2010 page 3
1.0% "

Thomas B Reed - "I would rather make an epigram than a friend". He certainly was a slashy-mouthed man!"
08/30/2010 page 4
1.0% ""Give me Combat" - France 1894 - 1899"
08/30/2010 page 4
1.0% "[image error]

The Dreyfus Affair"

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Bettie☯ The anarchist section (chapter 2) was eye-opening for me, and brilliantly written too. Now I need to delve into something light to wash carpets by...

message 2: by Grace (new) - added it

Grace Tjan Only 3 stars?

Bettie☯ Sandybanks wrote: "Only 3 stars?"

I was contrasting this with Three Emperors. Proud Tower was ace for setting the political stage, and superb at answering all things 'anarchist' but overall Three Emperors informed me better.

The title here of 'A Portrait' is very accurate.

message 4: by Grace (new) - added it

Grace Tjan I've always wanted to read a good book about this period. I like A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century and The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam, but based on your assessment, I think I'll read the Three Emperors instead of this one.

Bettie☯ Sandybanks wrote: "I've always wanted to read a good book about this period. I like A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century and The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam, but based on..."

Personally speaking, that is the best choice. You will get a full overview, not just a couple of specialist strands, meet some real whackos and come away with your information basket overflowing with facts that YOU WANTED TO KNOW.


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