Monica'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
Apr 23, 2009

really liked it
Read in March, 2010

Audiobook, but probably best read in hard copy, although the performance here by Nadia May is excellent. The problem is that the book is so detailed that it's extremely difficult to follow in audio.

But of course Barbara Tuchman really builds the world of Europe in the two decades before World War One. Perhaps the most fascinating portion of the narrative is the first, which details how the upper class lived in Britain with little thought for those less fortunate, and how the desperate working classes struggled simply to survive. We see the entire Dreyfuss affair in France, then jump to Austria and Germany for a portrait of Richard Strauss that has difficulty connecting because it just isn't possible to describe music with the printed word. The book ends with a deep look at the socialist movement throughout western Europe, taking us to the very beginning of the war.

You will know what Europe was like before WWI from this book,much of which is fascinating. Be prepared, however, for a bit of a slog.

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