The Guns of August

GunsOfAugustSuggested by David Ray • 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.
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9 Responses to The Guns of August

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    I will point out here that Tuchman wrote a number of histories, several of which would fit in well. Perhaps the best choice after this would be A Distant Mirror, though Stilwell and the American Experience in China has a lot of merit as well, and there are other good ones. But one must remember that she wasn’t exactly a conservative.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      A Distant Mirror sounds great. I might read that next…after the new book I’m now reading which is pretty good so far: Lords of the Sea.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        That would be the one by a high school classmate about Athens and its fleet? Quite good.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          John R. Hale was your classmate? Cool.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            Well, the senior class at Louisville Country Day was all of 35 students. That was the first year they were in the Cum Laude Society, so 3 students (the maximum allowed) graduated Summa Cum Laude. He and I were among them.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      I have read all three Tuchman books you mentioned and thought all were good.

      The book on Stilwell was the most surprising as I had no idea he spoke Mandarin and kept his diary in Chinese. If Tuchman’s portrayal of Stilwell is close to reality, he was a real horse’s ass as a person. On the other hand, there is no doubt he was a horse’s ass as regards to his relationship with Chiang Kai-Shek. Chiang may have been a real bastard, but he was Little Lord Fauntleroy himself when compared to Mao and his band of bloody bandits.

      An old friend of the family’s, now deceased, served in the Army Aircorps loading and unloading planes which flew over the Hump. He disliked Stilwell intensely.

      He recounted an incident in which Stilwell, who apparently loved Coca Cola, on short notice ordered a plane to fly several cannisters of Coke syrup over the Hump. There were for Stilwell’s personal consumption.

      One must understand flying over the Hump was very dangerous and to order a plane and crew to do so for a few canisters of Coke was extremely egotistical.

      Well, my family’s friend told me that the canisters mysteriously disappeared and were never found. But some weeks later, the enlisted men’s mess did have plenty of Coke for a while.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        There’s a reason why Stilwell was known as “Vinegar Joe”. He was a very good general, but as popular as Braxton Bragg (albeit not for the same reason).

        Incidentally, another interesting book on the intersection between China and Americans is Caleb Carr’s The Devil Soldier, about Frederick Townsend Ward, who became a high-grade mandarin fighting against the Taiping Rebellion and founded the Ever-Victorious Army (which became famous when Charles Gordon took it over after Ward’s death, for which he became famous enough as “Chinese” Gordon to be the subject of a joke I learned in childhood).

  2. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    The Taiping Rebellion is a very important part of Chinese history. There is no doubt that it did must to accelerate the demise of the Ching (now written Qing) Dynasty and with it the end of Imperial China.

    If I recall correctly, it is estimated that over 20 million people died during the rebellion of Jesus’ little brother.

    I find both Ward and Gordon very interesting characters.

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