Jack's Reviews > The Guns of August

The Guns of August by Barbara W. Tuchman
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's review
Aug 06, 2011

bookshelves: history

A detailed account of the torrid first thirty days of the First World War up to the beginning of the Battle of the Marne. Tuchman tells of the buildup of war as fueled by German rise and its perception of English "encirclement," the flawed German Schlieffen plan of quick decisive victory by invasion of France through Belgium, and the equally flawed French Plan 17 which anticipated drawing in German forces on the flanks with a concentrated force in order to break through the center. I found the chapters on the eastern front with Russia to be especially interesting. This part detailed how Russia attacked prematurely before proper mobilization, and how it managed temporary success in invasion into east Prussia before ultimate defeat at the Battle of Tanneberg. Although it benefits occasionally from compelling narration and the sheer magnitude of the events being portrays, I often found it dry. Tuchman's sprawling narrative style introduces too many individuals to really keep track of, and the description of military maneuvers were often obscure and overly technical for the lay reader to appreciate.

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