Friday, August 1, 2014

Book: The Guns of August -- August 1, 2014

This month we remember the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One, the Great War, the War to End All Wars.  I thought this was a good time to reread Barbara Tuchman's book The Guns of August.  Tuchman set the stage and then wrote in great detail about the events of the first month of the war.  She wrote about the French Army's belief in the offensive, the German Army's theory of schrecklichkeit (frightfulness), and the general way in which events did not turn out the way that leaders planned. 

Tuchman had a way with words.  “Human beings, like plans, prove fallible in the presence of those ingredients that are missing in maneuvers -- danger, death, and live ammunition.” I particularly liked her sections on the burning of Louvain and the bombardment of Rhiems, two indelible black marks against the Germans.  “Two firing squads marched to the center of the square, faced either way and fired till no more of the targets stood upright. Six hundred and twelve bodies were identified and buried, including Felix Fivet, aged three weeks.”  

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