Kerrie'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 11, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: audiobook, non-fiction, world-war-1, overdrive
Read from February 01 to March 11, 2012

Tuchman provides a well-rounded portrait of the major players in the 24 years before WWI. It's not all history and political science, but more of a look at the frame of mind of every country before all that shit went down in Sarajevo. Much of the book focused on the role that the socialists played during that time in England, France, the United States, Germany, and Russia. Much of the book focuses on France, particularly the Dreyfus Affair (something I previously didn't know much about, but she is thorough.) I really enjoyed her chapter on music and the arts (focusing on Richard Strauss, Stravinsky, and Nijinsky) which detailed how cultural tastes were trending toward the modern. For awhile I thought that in taking on too much and not focusing in more on a few topics, the approach was becoming too scattershot. However at the end of the book it became clear that the strongest theme was the rise (and failure) of the socialists. The leading figures of that party were certain that when it came to war, the brotherhood of workers would guarantee that any war would only be fought by the bourgeoisie and upper classes for no worker would fire upon a fellow worker. Obviously that was not the case, and patriotism/nationalism won out - the rampant nationalism that she had covered in the previous chapters detailing the Dreyfus Affair in France, the jingoism of the United States, and the pride and loyalty to the monarchy in Great Britain.

Highly recommended. Can't wait to tackle The Guns of August and The Zimmermann Telegram.
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Reading Progress

20.0% "Even the anarchists had their tawdry scandals. Love Triangle Exhibit A:

HAWT." 6 comments
40.0% "I knew nothing about the Dreyfus Affair, but France went utterly batshit insane!
65.0% "Pauline, wife of Richard Strauss, sounds like a handful. She'd bark out "Richard! Compose!" when he was slacking, and "Richard! Put down your pencil!" when he worked too hard. She hired a rough Swede masseur and Richard would leave the house to her cries of pain. Here's the little charmer:

Marriage was happy tho" 4 comments

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Jane (new) - added it

Jane Well THAT explains the Valkyries.

message 2: by Karla (new)

Karla Who narrated this audiobook? Did they do a good job?

Kerrie Nadia May, and she did a great job, especially with the accents. Can't say the same for the book I'm listening to now...

message 4: by Jane (new) - added it

Jane Ooo I like Nadia May. She has exactly the right voice for the period and therefore has narrated many Golden Age detective stories.

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