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You are here: Home > Suggested readings > Tuchman - The Guns of August - ISBN 9780345476098 - 4/5

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Published on 2018-08-22 20:49:39 | words: 753


Tuchman, Barbara
The Guns of August
BookID 159639013
ISBN 0345476093
(see LibraryThing.com card)
Description (from Amazon)Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best nonfiction books of all time

The Proud Tower, the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Guns of August, and The Zimmerman Telegram comprise Barbara W. Tuchman's classic histories of the First World War era

In this landmark, Pulitzer Prize-winning account, renowned historian Barbara W. Tuchman re-creates the first month of World War I: thirty days in the summer of 1914 that determined the course of the conflict, the century, and ultimately our present world. Beginning with the funeral of Edward VII, Tuchman traces each step that led to the inevitable clash. And inevitable it was, with all sides plotting their war for a generation. Dizzyingly comprehensive and spectacularly portrayed with her famous talent for evoking the characters of the war's key players, Tuchman's magnum opus is a classic for the ages.

Praise for The Guns of August

"A brilliant piece of military history which proves up to the hilt the force of Winston Churchill's statement that the first month of World War I was 'a drama never surpassed.'"-Newsweek

"More dramatic than fiction ... a magnificent narrative-beautifully organized, elegantly phrased, skillfully paced and sustained."-Chicago Tribune

"A fine demonstration that with sufficient art rather specialized history can be raised to the level of literature."-The New York Times

"[The Guns of August] has a vitality that transcends its narrative virtues, which are considerable, and its feel for characterizations, which is excellent."-The Wall Street Journal
My review: 4/5This review is, as others on my profile, a "dual review", i.e. covering in part two books.

The reason is that I do not look at the subject at face value- and, as I wrote in other reviews, the history of warfare (and crime history, in this case) often have a major advantage: the authors review known choices from multiple perspectives.

The first book is Barbara Tuchman's "The Guns of August", about the inception of WWI.

The other is one of the few about criminology written in Italian that didn't disappoint in its discussion about decisions-making.

As you can see, both of the books are really about decision-making and avoiding various forms of bias.

And now, the review about "The Guns of August".

WWI was the first mechanized war, bringing also on the front new weaponry that was to be characterist of the XX century.

But what was impressive was how much choices were made based upon the bias deriving from previous wars- so much that even correct information was ignored.

WWI brought about a shortening of the time available to make choices while at the same time converting logistics into an even more critical element, as you could not simply pick up from the land what you needed- spare parts, oil, etc had all to be brought.

Sounds an unusual "connecting the dots", but in reality this divergence of available timeframe between decision making and decision implementation actually became more critical with each war- including, of course, Cold War.

This was a lesson that had yet to be learned in WWII, but in reality also the war in Africa and all the mistakes in WWI and WWII organized by Winston Churchill were a painful "learning ground" that enabled the landing in Normandy.

When seen at a distance, we are inclined to over-rationalize choices made (including the wrong ones), and this happens often also in business: who would admit having made a choice on a whim?

The most interesting point of this book is actually the large quantity of background information on decisions and availability of information to the decision makers.

Anyway, if you are just interested in history per se (I am biased, as I am focused on change), it is a book still worth reading 56 years after it was published.

[Review released on 2018-08-23]
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