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August 1914

(The Red Wheel #1)

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  2,196 ratings  ·  147 reviews
In his monumental narrative of the outbreak of the First World War and the ill-fated Russian offensive into East Prussia, Solzhenitsyn has written what Nina Krushcheva, in The Nation, calls "a dramatically new interpretation of Russian history." The assassination of tsarist prime minister Pyotr Stolypin, a crucial event in the years leading up to the Revolution of 1917, is
Paperback, 896 pages
Published May 15th 2000 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1971)
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Mark I'm assuming you've found your answers in the meantime, but just in case: Nadrau = Nadrowo, Wittmansdorf = Witramowo. The names you listed appear to…moreI'm assuming you've found your answers in the meantime, but just in case: Nadrau = Nadrowo, Wittmansdorf = Witramowo. The names you listed appear to be incorrect: Waplitz = Waplewo (not Wapelo) and Nidzica was formerly Neidenburg (not Niederburg) and (Polish) Nibork. There are many locations in present-day Poland that are called Janów or Janowo. From the location of the other places you listed, and from a quick glance at the book, I'm guessing Solzhenitsyn might be referring to this place, which is between Nidzica and Chorzele:
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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 ·  2,196 ratings  ·  147 reviews

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Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wwi
In the Russian Army of 1914, rear guards did not save themselves by surrendering. Rear guards died.

August 1914 is an epic novel about the complete rout of Russia’s 2nd army at Tannenberg in modern day Poland which occurred in the opening month of WWI. It was notable as an ominous sign that Russia’s military would be no match for Germany either organizationally or technologically. This book was written by Alexander Solzhenitsyn in 1971 and while it is not as heart wrenching as Solzhenitsyn’s
Feb 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Bought secondhand and devoured in a single overnight reading. Back in the day when I could do an overnight read - my rock and roll years.

Re-read and enjoyed a couple of times since.

An excellent read.
I read the shorter, potentially cropped or incomplete version of this would be epic years ago. It impresses through bulk and scale. The set up of the initial chapters has us criss-crossing European Russia introducing us to various upper class characters on the verge of World War One, Solzhenitsyn fictionalises his story to allow Lev Tolstoy to still be alive and to talk to one character (he had been dead since 1910 in reality), I feel this is Solzhenitsyn shaking hands with his role model and ...more
August 1914 is a monumental work, part history, part historical fiction, part a detailed account of the battle of Tannenberg (26 August - 30 August 1914) with fictional elements interwoven, including mini-biographies and accounts of key elements and episodes of Russian history in the years leading up to World War I.

In reading the book I sometimes wondered Is this fiction or fact? It's wasn't always possible to decide (at least with my limited knowledge) But eventually I concluded that obviously
Jan 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: BBC Radio Listeners
Recommended to Bettie by: Isca Silurum

Description: A new adaptation for radio of Nobel Prize-winner Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's epic story of the first battle of the Eastern Front in 1914 - which was a disaster for Russia. Solzhenitsyn's book was published in the West one year after he won the prize - with sections about Lenin omitted. It was only after his expulsion from the USSR that the complete book was available. This new production is narrated by Fiona Shaw.

In August 1914, Colonel
Feb 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: russian, war
Ever wanted to smack someone in the face because of their insistent incompetency and blatant disregard for others just because of their own self-interests? Then you're going to have a lot of sympathy for the Russian soldiers who lost their lives in Russia's opening campaign in World War I.

As always, typical Russian/Solzhenitsyn epic, wide array of characters caught up in something bigger than them with each having different opinions on religion, politics, and society. Not as 'great' as Cancer
Nov 07, 2014 added it
question whether I read this back in the day when I was reading Solzhenitsyn.
Katia N
Oct 12, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

On a purely literary merit it is a big and tiresome slog. It is designed to be 10 volumes' chronicles devoted to the events which has lead to the Revolution of 1917. So the parts about the fictional characters are alternated by the parts about real historic figures and events. The construction is complex and really awkward. Initially the fictional parts were relatively lively with interesting set of characters and several story lines. But the gaps between dropping a particular line and
This is probably my favorite book of all time. Alexander Solzhenitsyn was brilliant. If you don't like WWI history, this book is not for you, but it was excellent. It was fiction, but centred around the campaign in Tannenburg, Prussia. There wasn't much of a plot other than the campaign, though the characters made up for it, and is the first in a series of four, the last of which has not been translated into English as yet. It was 622 pages, but well worth reading.

Just short of 5/5 because some bits I found really hard to get through and I say this as a fan of russian literature and history.

I wouldn't recommend this to someone who's just getting into russian literature. If you have no knowledge of the Battle of Tannenberg nor late 19th / early 20th century russian history and politics, you might as well do some reading first or else you won't enjoy the first 300 pages nor the rest of the book for that matter.

There's a long chapter in which he treats
Sep 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Bettie
From BBC Radio 3 - Drama on 3:
A new adaptation for radio of Nobel Prize-winner Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's epic story of the first battle of the Eastern Front in 1914 - which was a disaster for Russia. Solzhenitsyn's book was published in the West one year after he won the prize - with sections about Lenin omitted. It was only after his expulsion from the USSR that the complete book was available. This new production is narrated by Fiona Shaw.

In August 1914, Colonel Vorotyntsev advances into East
Aug 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I correctly anticipated how appropriate it would feel to read this in August 2014 - exactly 100 years after the events in this novel. I did not anticipate how eager I would be to return each time to this amazing novel, discovering well drawn characters, a scathing indictment of Russian military culture at the beginning of the Great War, and a humbling and breathtaking faith. Definitely one to re-read.
Timons Esaias
Mar 04, 2017 rated it liked it
I read the original version of this soon after it came out in English, at the beginning of the '70s, along with Lenin in Zurich. I liked it a lot, and it led me to much further reading on the subject of the Russian Front of WWI. I admired the novel in its original form, with its many memorable scenes, and desperate situations. I've owned the "Red Wheel" version since it came out, and finally got around to reading it.

Solzenhenitsyn's additions and revisions turned it into a shapeless mess, to be
Apr 07, 2013 rated it it was ok
"August 1914" is a novel by Russian novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn about Imperial Russia's defeat at the Battle of Tannenberg in East Prussia. The novel was completed in 1970, first published in 1971, and an English translation was first published in 1972. The novel is an unusual blend of fiction narrative and historiography, and has given rise to extensive and often bitter controversy, both from the literary as well as from the historical point of view.

Now that first paragraph is directly from
L Fleisig
Sep 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Aleksandr Solzhenitzyn's ("A.S.") August 1914: The Red Wheel paints a marvelous portrait of Russia at the crossroads of the 20th century. By way of background, I read David Remnick's Resurrection about Russia's post -USSR struggles. Remnick writes a beautiful chapter on A.S., his life, his exile, Western Europe and the U.S. intelligentsia's dismissive treatment of him, and his return to Russia. Reminick's extraordinary discourse on A.S. is the perfect prelude to this work because it allows the ...more
Guy Portman
Oct 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: russian
3.5 Stars

Set in the years leading up to The Revolution, this monumental book is Solzhenitsyn’s interpretation of a turbulent period in his country’s history, beginning with the outbreak of World War I. We follow Russia’s invasion of East Prussia, a hapless campaign, culminating in the near destruction of the Second Army at the Battle of Tannenburg, and the suicide of its commanding general, the blundering Alexander Samsonov.

Subsequent sections encompass the life of Prime Minister Pyotr
Huw Evans
Aug 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, fiction, russian
Ironically,I am writing this review on the 11th November. I have categorised it as fiction but there is a strong factual element - can I call it military faction? After Ivan Denisovich, the size of this book came as a surprise and the writing expands to fill the space between the covers, without lapse or hiatus. We remember our own war dead, but seem to have forgotten that the Russians lost twice as many men as did the UK. The appalling carnage at the beginning of the war is well described where ...more
Sep 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a must read book for anyone who is interested in almost any aspect of European literature and/or Russian history and literature. Solzhenitsyn has a way of writing that immediately involves the reader in the scene, the characters, the situation he creates. He develops characters that stay with one, and makes one want to read more and more about their lives. After this, I read Cancer Ward and First Circle and he creates worlds within worlds in these books as well.
Michael Perkins
Aug 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
the rest of the series to be rolled out in English....
Aaron Crofut
Jan 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I leave this book wondering why the Battle of Tannenberg isn't more widely studied by military history buffs. The Germans, initially caught off guard by the rapid speed of Russia's invasion of East Prussia, manage to defeat an enemy twice their size due to their better command structure, logistics, and by the incredible blunders made by their enemy, not least of which includes sending plans through telegraph wires without encoding them first. Though a work of fiction, the battle itself is ...more
Oct 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The First World War was so wasteful of human life on all sides. This shows the Russian high command to be as inept as the British High Command and the victims are the poor proletariat fighting in the is not surprising the Russians revolted shortly after.
The themes of August 1914 are human, military, and political. The human theme is the heroism of the ordinary Russian soldier. With awe Solzhenitsyn depicts the hardiness of infantrymen who marched untiringly hither and yon at the contradictory orders of confused generals. With compassion he recites the courage of peasants, clerks, and teachers who fought to the death despite the obvious incompetence of their officers. Loving comrades, family, religion, and country more than life, foot soldiers ...more
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In this novel, Soviet Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitzyn takes on the theme of the Russian Army in the opening months of the First World War. This novel was exceptionally well written, and it is surprising to me that more enthusiasts of the First World War are not talking about it. Perhaps it's because the novel was written in the late 1960s, long after the heyday of Great War literature in the 1930s. Perhaps it's because the novel is about the Russian army and not one of the Western armies ...more
Robert burke
Jun 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is the first in Solzhenitsyn's epic novels about Russia in the First World War, November 1916 is the second. Unless you can read Russian or French, the last two novels haven't been translated into English. In November, the University of Notre Dames is publishing March 1917, the third volume. It will be translated by Marian Schwartz. Hopefully the fourth volume is in the works.
Jul 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
It's hard not to add to all the comments that have already been made on this book. Yes it was a marathon and a tough read, but I can't help but appreciate the man's genius while doing so. It's difficult to recommend, but also difficult to give a low rating as a result. I learned a lot, personally, from reading this.

Reading some of the background of the battle described from other accounts, it's disturbing to think how pivotal the battle of Tannenburg was to world history. The German army had the
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
It is important for us to read the classics!

“Why?” you ask. “Why should I read the classics? Isn’t reading about pleasure, about what I enjoy? I enjoy Harry Potter so much more than The Brothers Karamazov. I move so much more quickly through Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler than I do W. Somerset Maugham, Ernest Hemingway.”

It’s a fair question. Isn’t reading about enjoyment as much as it is about personal growth? Why would you watch Gone with the Wind when you can instead gaze vapidly at the
Sep 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the most marvellously complex novels I've ever read. Clearly an author to be spoken of in the same bracket as Dickens, Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. I suspect the length of the novel however has prevented this from being one of his more well known works. Indeed, you do need at least an outline of WWI on the Eastern Front to be able to follow the first few hundred pages. If you do however, this novel repays you handsomely. The sheer frustration of watching the tragedy unfold from several ...more
Michelle L
Nov 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
Solzhenitsyn provides an account of the events surrounding the failed Russian army intiatives of mid-August in 1914. His focus is not only on the First Army (led by the hapless and nervous General Samsonov), but also the attempts of the brave Colonel Vorotyntsev to salvage a victory for Russia.
These events are all set amidst a backdrop of tense social and politicial rumbling (which will ultimately leave to great upheaval). Solzhenitsyn peeks into the lives of every day Russians and focuses on
Jul 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is an amazingly good book. Solzhenitsyn does for the Great War in the east what Tolstoy did for the Napolianic wars of 1805 and 1812. But this is a series of perfect doorstops. Each of the volumes makes "War and Peace" look like a novella. But I always like a big, fat, thick novel ... even better if it is a Russian novel.

Solzhenitsyn does a wonderful job describing then Battle of Tannenburg (confused valor on the part of the Russians; effective leadership and uses of railroads by the
Dec 26, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: own
This was my third Solzienitsyn book and my last. The book covered the first two weeks of WW1. too much, too many characters who were mentioned one time then not again for 400 pages. Out of the entire book, there is only one line I will remember, It was a quote by Tolstoy. HOW CAN YOU ENJOY LLINING UP WORDS IN RANKS LIKE SOLDIERS ACCORDING TO THEIR SOUNDS? CHILDISH NONSENSE ' It's unnatural. The job of words is to express thoughts, and you don"t find much thought in poetry. do you? There's a lot ...more
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Great War (1914-1...: Russian Front. 7 20 Mar 01, 2018 06:28AM  
Goodreads Librari...: what if a book has been translated twice? 7 45 Jun 19, 2015 10:04AM  
Solzhenitsyn has died... 4 29 Aug 04, 2008 09:42AM  

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Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn (Russian: Александр Исаевич Солженицын) was a Soviet and Russian novelist, dramatist, and historian. Through his writings he helped to make the world aware of the Gulag, the Soviet Union's forced labor camp system—particularly The Gulag Archipelago and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, two of his best-known works.

Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Prize in

Other books in the series

The Red Wheel (3 books)
  • November 1916 (The Red Wheel #2)
  • Март Семнадцатого (The Red Wheel, #3.4)
“As he spoke, he looked into their faces and saw, as though in his own features, that fundamentally they all bore the indelible impress of a similar background: army tradition; long spells of garrison service in a world isolated from the rest of society; a sense of alienation, of being despised by that society and ridiculed by liberal writers; the official ban on discussing politics and political literature, resulting in a blunting or stultifying of the intellect; a permanent shortage of money; and yet, despite it all, the knowledge that they represented, in purified and concentrated form, the vitality and courage of the whole nation.” 4 likes
“Why is it that all the main work of breaking down human souls went on at night? Why, from their very earliest years, did the Organs select the night? Because at night, the prisoner torn from sleep, even though he has not yet been tortured by sleeplessness, lacks his normal daytime equanimity and common sense. He is more vulnerable.” 2 likes
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