Matthew Hines's Reviews > The Guns of August

The Guns of August by Barbara W. Tuchman
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Nov 25, 10


I have always loved history because it is about real people, and how the decisions they make can impact history. This book by Barbara Tuchman explores that concept in spades. This is a book which begins in 1910, at the funeral of King Edward VII of England. At that funeral were all the royal houses of Europe, of whom most can claim "Uncle Edward" as a literal relative. Most of these monarchs were feuding, most strengthened their alliances either with France or with Germany for the war which must inevitably come between those two countries. But she explores the fateful hours and days of the opening scenes of the The Great War, in which a tortured King Albert of Belgium is caught in the middle of a restive Germany and a defiant France, and with the only easy road into either country.

While most historians love to focus on the stories of individual soldiers when telling the story of war, Tuchman instead tells the story of grand strategy; of the mistaken assumptions both sides had of each other. The tactics assumed in the early stages of war were based on the wars without machine guns, mustard gas, or tanks. Weapons of war had evolved, but not the tactics of war. So began the slaughter....

This book must be a part of any history lover's library. I think you will find it most stimulating.
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