Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Review : The Guns of August by B.W.Tuchman

Reading this book was like witnessing a high octane drama. Tuchman has painted a magnificent picture of a war torn Europe with her words. The book focuses on the first month of the war and the chain of events which eventually led to the battle of Marne. It provides all the military, political and geographical details about the war that changed the face of Europe in the next four years.
                            The book is full of epic tales of bravery, cowardice, tragedy and treachery. The opening paragraph describing the scene of King Edward VII’s funeral just swept me off my feet. I loved how Tuchman has characterized all the European nations-Germany is the high school bully, France is the scrawny nerd who stands up to the bully and gets beaten black n blue (obviously!) and England is the guy who promises the whole class that he will take care of the problem but disappears the moment the bully appears. The story never loses its momentum. All the military accounts both on and off the field are described in detail. The major portion of the book is about the generals of the French, Russian, German and English army. Tuchman has discussed the personalities of these men in great detail because ultimately it was the idiosyncrasies of these men which led to the loss of millions of lives. The Schlieffen plan is very well explained and the chapter on the battle of Tannenberg is unforgettable. My favorite section was the one written on the German naval warship-Goeben.The chase sequence between the German and English ships seemed like a scene of a modern day action movie.
                                 The author does not believe in providing back stories to certain events which can be very confusing sometimes.She mentions the battle of Sedan in quite a few places but there is no overview of that event anywhere in the book. Also, I found the maps to be very complicated but that did not pose a problem as the text is very self- explanatory. This book is a perfect combo of information and entertainment. The unbiased narration makes it a must read for any history lover.

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