Brett'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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's review
Mar 23, 2011

really liked it

Another fun book by Barbara Tuchman. This one is a bit different than the last book I read by her (A Distant Mirror). Rather than sticking with one subject, each chapter gives a history of a different aspect of the late 19th and early 20th century. One chapter is on anarchism, another on the Spanish American War. The descriptions of the in-fighting within the US Congress was particularly interesting and some of it had a familiar ring to it... I also was unaware of the "Peace Conferences" held in the early 1900's, in a supposed attempt to rid the world, or at least Europe, of war. There were some agreements on a reduction of armaments etc., but of course just a few years later the continent would descend into WWI.

The fact that the chapters are fairly self-contained makes this a great book to pick up again to refamiliarize yourself with a certain subject, without committing to reading the entire book. I originally picked it up as I had just finished reading a number of books on Hertzen and Bakunin, the latter would become an early anarchist. Thus, the anarchy chapter was very interesting to me, and it still surprises me how some self-professed idealists working towards establishing a Utopia thought the best way to accomplish this was to sew random violence against the citizenry. So very strange and sad.

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