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Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War Audiobook, by Max Hastings Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Max Hastings Narrator: Simon Vance Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2013 ISBN: 9781483073606
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From the acclaimed military historian, a new history of the outbreak of World War I—from the breakdown of diplomacy to the dramatic battles that occurred before the war bogged down in the trenches

World War I immediately evokes images of the trenches—grinding, halting battles that sacrificed millions of lives for no territory or visible gain. Yet the first months of the war, from the German invasion of Belgium to the Marne to Ypres, were utterly different—full of advances and retreats, tactical maneuvering, and significant gains and losses. In Catastrophe 1914, Max Hastings re-creates this dramatic year, from the diplomatic crisis to the fighting in Belgium and France on the western front and Serbia and Galicia to the east. He gives vivid accounts of the battles and frank assessments of generals and political leaders, and shows why it was inevitable that this first war among modern industrial nations could not produce a decisive victory, resulting in a war of attrition. Throughout we encounter high officials and average soldiers, as well as civilians on the home front, giving us a vivid portrait of how a continent became embroiled in a war that would change everything.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “If any region today could cause a crisis comparable to that of 1914, it is the Middle East. They need a new book on the outbreak of World War I, and now they have it in Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War…Catastrophe is a book written with an eye cocked to the Anglophone audience and its inherited half-truths about the war. By taking a pan-European perspective, Mr. Hastings punctures these with directness and brio…It is not hard to see how the ideas in this book carry a special resonance in our time.”          

    New York Times

  • “Hastings argues persuasively that the war’s opening phase had a unique character that merits closer study…Hastings ends his deft narrative and analysis by observing that the price of German victory would have been European democracy itself. Those who died to prevent that victory—despite the catastrophic decisions of 1914—did not die in vain.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “Hastings is in top form…a lively and opinionated account…one that lacks the romanticism that can bedevil military history. There’s nothing sentimental about his version of events. His vivid rendering of the first months of a cataclysm that grows more distant with each passing year makes the book a worthy addition to the canon.”

    Christian Science Monitor

  • “[World War I’s] centennial is almost upon us. Among the resulting flood of books, it’ll be hard to find one better than this…absorbing and compulsively readable…Like an eagle soaring over this vast terrain, Hastings swoops in and out, spying broad features and telling details alike…Superb.”

    Cleveland Plain Dealer

  • “Magnificent…At once moving, provocative, and utterly engrossing.”

    Sunday Times (London)

  • “Forcefully reasserts the thesis of German guilt in Catastrophe…magnificent…A splendid read.”

    Guardian (London)

  • “Like one of Field Marshal Haig’s family whiskies, Max Hastings is a dram that steadily improves with age…His position as Britain’s leading military historian is now unassailable…enormously impressive…Hastings effortlessly masters the complex lead-up to and opening weeks of the First World War…magisterial…Hastings soars across frontiers to take in every theater, describing half-forgotten campaigns on the Drina and Danube rivers with the same verve and élan that he brings to the more familiar clashes at Mons, Le Cateau, the Marne, and Ypres…But it is the voices of ordinary folk that resonate loudest and longest…This is a magnificent and deeply moving book, and with Max Hastings as our guide we are in the hands of a master.”

    Telegraph (London)

  • “Vivid and compelling.”

    Evening Standard (London)

  • “This is history writing at its best.”

    Times (London)

  • “Compelling…Hastings will have no truck with the idea that a chapter of accidents brought about the war, or with any liberal, guilt-ridden guff about equal moral and political responsibility of the warring belligerents…Told with an equal richness of detail and sure narrative sweep…A formidably impressive book.”

    Spectator (London)

  • “What makes this book really stand out is Mr. Hastings’ deliberate efforts to puncture what he labels the many myths and legends of the events of 1914…His deep research, insightful analysis, and wonderful prose make this an excellent addition to his long library of titles. This volume is a highly readable account of a war Europe completely misjudged in terms of bloodshed and cost—a war that destroyed three dynasties, remade the map of Europe, and set the state for mankind’s bloodiest century.”

    New York Journal of Books

  • “Hastings over the past two decades has become the contemporary premier historian of twentieth-century war…The real strength of this story is how Mr. Hastings portrays the principal characters, not as stereotyped tyrants, greedy empire builders, or mindless militarists but rather as very real human beings with as many flaws as virtues…Will the past be prologue? Get this book.”

    Washington Times

  • “A first class narrative.”

    Mail on Sunday (London)

  • “Invites consideration as the best in his distinguished career, combining a perceptive analysis of the Great War’s beginnings with a vivid account of the period from August to September of the titular year.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “After many accounts of World War II, the veteran military historian tries his hand, with splendid results…Readers accustomed to Hastings’ vivid battle descriptions, incisive anecdotes from all participants, and shrewd, often unsettling opinions will not be disappointed. Among the plethora of brilliant accounts of this period, this is one of the best.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “Essential reading as the centenary approaches.”

    Library Journal

  • “Hastings’s foray into the First World War yields a lively and opinionated account of the early days of conflict, one that lacks the romanticism that can bedevil military history. There’s nothing sentimental about his version of events. His vivid rendering of the first months of a cataclysm that grows more distant with each passing year makes the book a worthy addition to the canon. Whether or not you agree with his contention that Germany shoulders the blame, anyone interested in the war, and the questions it still raises, will relish watching Hastings wade into battle.”

    Barnes & Noble, editorial review

  • A Barnes & Noble Best Book for September 2013
  • A New York Times bestseller
  • A Publishers Weekly bestseller
  • A New York Times Editor’s Choice
  • New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books, 2013

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About the Author

Sir Max Hastings is the author of twenty-six books, most about conflict and several made the New York Times bestsellers list. Between 1986 and 2002 he served as editor-in-chief of the London Daily Telegraph, then editor of the Evening Standard. He has won many prizes both for journalism and his books have been bestsellers translated around the world. He chronicles Vietnam with the benefit of vivid personal memories: first of reporting in 1967-68 from the United States, where he encountered many of the war’s decision-makers including President Lyndon Johnson, and then of successive assignments in Indochina for newspapers and BBC TV. He rode a helicopter out of the US Saigon embassy compound during the 1975 final evacuation.

About the Narrator

Simon Vance (a.k.a. Robert Whitfield) is an award-winning actor and narrator. He has earned more than fifty Earphones Awards and won the prestigious Audie Award for best narration thirteen times. He was named Booklist’s very first Voice of Choice in 2008 and has been named an AudioFile Golden Voice as well as an AudioFile Best Voice of 2009. He has narrated more than eight hundred audiobooks over almost thirty years, beginning when he was a radio newsreader for the BBC in London. He is also an actor who has appeared on both stage and television.