The Guns of August
By Barbara Wertheim Tuchman
Why this book?
The Great War was preceded by one hundred years of relative peace in Europe, during which other events, especially the industrial revolution and the waning of continental empires, were setting the stage for the shattering of that peace and the end of the world in which it existed.
The war began during the twilight of an age in which men had come to believe that technology and “progress” might be harnessed to a perfect life. The war took a sledgehammer to that notion as it did so many other cherished ideas and beliefs.
Tuchman delivers a fascinating examination of the political, cultural, and financial causes of the war. Her book’s unique strength, though, lies in her intimate and unvarnished portraits of the leaders of those dying empires — vain, deluded, stupid, fatuous, paranoid, and greedy — who, faced with a changing world and a threat to their continued power, pushed Europe into a suicidal war of mass carnage.
When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.