The Guns of August

Barbara Tuchman’s The Guns of August is history at its best. It is both enjoyable and enlightening; it is “history as drama,” and like good fiction abounds in wise lessons. Tuchman frames the events leading up to the First World War within the context of the principle decision makers. As she tells it, nations and individuals are not passively swept along by forces of history; the catalysts of history are individuals, replete with their flaws and foibles. She excels at character portraits, which contextualise the attitudes and judgements of history’s protagonists. Having said that, Tuchman makes a compelling case that the world...

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