Owen'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
Jul 14, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: ww1, politics, military-history, non-fiction

Barbara Tuchman is a very good writer of history. It's one of those situations in which you thank the Lord, or somebody, that this particular person decided to go ahead in this particular direction. I don't know if just anyone will enjoy "The Proud Tower," since it deals with a very precise period in history, the Victorian Age in Britain, or the time leading up to the First World War. However, for me Tuchman's book, while not actually revelatory (her book on the origins of W. W. I - "The Guns of August" - definitely was), proved well worth reading. She tends to deal a lot in anecdotes, making you wonder if some of the remarks she attributes to others have been taken out of context. But if this is a weakness, it also lends strength to the book by making it eminently readable. The period of world and particularly European history leading up to those August guns is endlessly interesting, since here was a world which in many ways, was closer to that of the 10th century, than the 20th. Aristocracy was fading, labour movements were slowly but surely making themselves felt, and the lights were, as we now know, slowly going out all over Europe. If you haven't read Tuchman yet, you are missing a very serious investigator who has the added charm of authorial integrity, but doesn't ram anything down your throat. It's intelligent, often perspicacious writing, which really freshens up our notions of what a history book should be.
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