I like books with spunk, and Barbara Tuchman’s The Guns of August has it. Published in 1962, it’s too old to be considered the definitive historical work on the First World War, as I’m sure more modern books have benefitted from a more widely available historical record and emotional distance from the events now a century past. But damn, The Guns of August comes out firing and just doesn’t let up.
I must admit that I haven’t finish it. To me the play-by-play of battles and movements of armies is a lot less interesting than how and why they got to the battlefield. Perhaps I’ll pick it up again and get a better sense of the Great War’s nitty gritty, but for now I’m satisfied and impressed by the sniper-like precision Tuchman wields in her dramatic reenactment of the political, diplomatic, and military machinations that triggered a catastrophic war between and within the great European powers.