Tony'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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Dec 19, 11

bookshelves: history
Read in December, 2011

THE PROUD TOWER. (1966). Barbara W. Tuchman. ****.
In this highly researched and very readable book, the author examines what was going on in several countries just prior to WW I. Although she claims that other countries could have been picked, she decided on the final grouping using no real set of criteria other than interest to the general reader. “This book is an attempt to discover the quality of the world from which the Great War came...I have tried to concentrate on society rather than the state.” In her first chapter, “The Patricians: England 1895-1902, she examines the state of British government; who was running it and its constituency. It is obvious that the whole structure was composed of a good-old-boy network of titled gentleman who all knew each other, and, in many cases were related through marriage or linearity. They all went, mostly, to the same schools and belonged to the same clubs. They were all relatively financially independent through earnings on their land. The workings of their government were directed, primarily, to the support and continuance of their power. The review given here is exhaustive. No need to try and memorize all the players – most of whom we Americans never heard of. At the end, however, you will get an excellent picture of a country on the brink of a change that would be forced upon it by those not in power. She does the same thing for Germany and for America and France. Why America? At the time, America was just realizing its power and was wanting to flex its muscles. She examines the roots of the Spanish-American War and its consequences. With France, she concentrates on the Dreyfus Affair, and the seam it created that ultimately split the country apart. There’s lots here that I certainly didn’t know before, and lots to think about after having read this book. Recommended.
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