Cera'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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Sep 24, 08

Read in September, 2008, read count: 1

Tuchman is rightfully famous as a historian, but I found this book disappointing. It's a sound scholarly look at the period 1890-1914, focusing on the social movements within the powerful European nations & the United States that, according to Tuchman, set the stage for the outbreak of WWI. Unfortuantely, Tuchman doesn't obviously tie her thesis (presented in the introduction) to the rest of the book, and thus her admirable work on issues such as international Socialism, the Dreyfus Affair, and the transition of power in Britain from the aristocracy to the middle classes all seems much more descriptive than analytical. I came away from the book full of new information, but without the understanding I hoped to gain of just _how_ these social issues tied into the Great War. I kept wanting to say, "Yes, okay, but *why do I care?* What, pray tell, does all of this *mean*?" I don't know if my disappointment was a factor of being used to a different style of writing history -- the book, after all, is over 40 years old -- or if Tuchman perhaps bit off a little more than she could chew, but I had hoped for more. That being said, I'm still looking forward to reading her classic _The Guns of August_ in the near future!
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