Extended Audio Sample

Download The Guns of August Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Guns of August Audiobook, by Barbara W. Tuchman Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (11,398 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Barbara W. Tuchman Narrator: Wanda McCaddon Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2009 ISBN: 9781455185696
Regular Price: $31.95 Add to Cart
— or —
FlexPass™ Price: $15.95$5.95$5.95 for new members!
Add to Cart learn more )

In this Pulitzer Prize–winning classic, historian Barbara Tuchman brings to life the people and events that led up to World War I. This was the last gasp of the Gilded Age, of kings and kaisers and czars, of pointed or plumed hats, colored uniforms, and all the pomp and romance that went along with war. How quickly it all changed—and how horrible it became.

Tuchman masterfully portrays this transition from the nineteenth to the twentieth century, focusing on the turning point in the year 1914, the month leading up to the war, and the first month of the war. With fine attention to detail, she reveals how and why the war started and why it could have been stopped but wasn’t, managing to make the story utterly suspenseful even when we already know the outcome.

A classic historical survey of a time and a people we all need to know more about, The Guns of August will not be forgotten.

Download and start listening now!

BK_BLAK_002603

Quotes & Awards

  • “Fascinating…One of the finest works of history written…A splendid and glittering performance.”

    New York Times

  • “I have been unable to put this book down…Barbara W. Tuchman writes brilliantly and inspiringly...The Guns of August is lucid, fair, critical, and witty.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “In provoking musing thoughts, Tuchman has no contemporary equal. Her book, thus, has a vitality that transcends its narrative virtues, which are considerable, and its feel for characterizations, which is excellent.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “More dramatic than fiction...Magnificent…Beautifully organized, elegantly phrased, skillfully paced...The product of painstaking and sophisticated research.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “Brilliant…Her narrative grips the mind.”

    New Yorker

  • “An epic never flagging in suspense.”

    Christian Science Monitor

  • “Tuchman’s masterpiece of historical reconstruction has been given a narrator who comprehends in full its enormous narrative power…Tuchman creates caustic portrayals of kings, kaisers, and generalissimos with a keen eye and ear for detail and an instinct for the right quote and the right word. [Wanda McCaddon] delivers all these with ease and naturalness. While Tuchman’s large cast of armies and their generals is challenging, [McCaddon] lessens this difficulty with her mimicry of national accents, as well as her pacing and variations in tone. This unforgettable listening experience is recommended for all lovers of history, audiobooks, and a flat-out great story.”

    AudioFile

  • “Narrator [Wanda McCaddon] sounds exactly as listeners would expect historian Barbara Tuchman to sound:  educated, knowledgeable and fascinated with her subject —like the best kind of history professor—and her British accent lends more authority.”

    SoundCommentary.com

  • Winner of the 1963 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction
  • Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award
  • The 2009 AudioFile Best Voice for History: Wanda McCaddon

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dennis Aiden Lockhart | 2/17/2014

    " There is so much in this book...there is always so much in any book about military history--names of officers, names of soldiers, names of battles, names of places, etc.--that a re-reading is almost necessary if one is to remember anything other than the basic facts presented in the book. Military histories are, to me, always a bittersweet experience: whatever fascinating facts, speculations or even gossip are included, there is always the underlying idea that people, in this case numbering in the millions, were dying as the story unfolded. They are as anonymous in death as they were in life. "Their position was overrun", "the battalion was routed", and "victory was complete" are basically code words for the basic idea that many people died, away from their home and their loved ones and to be buried, if at all, in an unmarked grave. Napoleon single-handedly managed to decimate the French male population during the first fifteen years of the nineteenth century through his continuous years of war, over 1.5 million young French men never returning home. What makes this book even more depressing than most of its type is that we know that what happens in August of 1914 is nothing more than a murderous prelude to an even more murderous four years of what has been called "competitive homicide". And yet, in the same way that we find it difficult to drive by an automobile accident without slowing down to see what happened, so, too, do we read about these terrible wars and the horrific tolls they exacted on both those who died and those who did not. Tuchman, as has been noted by hordes of readers and reviewers much more insightful than me, manages to bring to light enough human foibles among the leaders and humanity among the soldiers to make it not only readable but, dare I say, enjoyable. She even does the impossible...presenting in a cogent manner the actual reasons, other than the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand, why the First World War came about and, indeed, makes it seem unavoidable to the nations involved as they roused themselves from, as someone noted, "the boredom of peace". It has been said that "...armies always prepare to fight the last war", meaning that they know what worked before and use that as the guide in preparing for the next war. Tuchman shows us that some of the French and Russian generals seemed to be preparing to fight the war before the last war, still relying on cavalries to somehow survive machine-gun fire and bayonets to overcome artillery bombardment. The only heroes in this story seem to be the Belgians, and especially Albert, their king, and the Russian soldiers who were expected to die in great numbers and duly obliged. (And even the Belgians come out brave but very naive, refusing to compromise their neutrality by asking for assistance until it has become overrun by the Germans.) Tuchman does one other thing: she does away with the idea that the populations of the nations involved were unwillingly lead by the nose into war by their leaders. As she says about workers on the street, they may have considered themselves socialists, but when war was declared, their allegiance switched "from Marx to Mars", the god of war. "It is a joy to be alive!" screamed a headline in one Berlin newspaper as Germany declared war on France. Of course, this is because they all thought the war would be short--the Kaiser promised his troops in August that they would be back home "before the leaves fall"--and they all thought their side would win. This naivete was only matched by those who thought the nations of Europe had their economies so enmeshed with each other that a war was impossible. The only thing more depressing for the reader than the litany of mistakes, misinformation and treachery is the idea that when the book is ended, the war has only begun. As dreadful as the tale already told has been, what is to follow will be immeasurably worse. . "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alan Jacobs | 2/14/2014

    " A huge cast of characters and a setting that extends across all of northern France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and parts of Russia/Prussia/Poland. Tuchman seems to be in the rooms where plans were made by the high commands of France, Germany, England, Russia, and Belgium, all at once. If you can keep all the names straight, it's possible to envision the entire horrible scene of World War I unfolding. Yet, it's still difficult to comprehend why. France's cause seems clear--territory had been taken from it by Germany, and it wanted it back; in addition, Germany was clearly plotting against France. Germany's grievance against France is much less comprehensible. Even though all of Germany, including well-known German philosophers and intellectuals, supported the war effort, yet it is impossible to see German aggression as anything other than a result of the vanity of generals. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kyle Swiggum | 2/13/2014

    " I have a fondness for military history, and in particular, I find World War I an intensely interesting subject. When I found this in the bookstore, I was immediately taken in because I had studied the outbreak of the war in my history studies but never in so much detail. Tuchman does a marvelous job at cutting through all of the havoc of those opening months of conflict and illuminates the key players on both sides, their agendas and decisions, brilliance and incompetence, and what was at stake in this pivotal period of history. To any history lover, this is a well-written and extremely fascinating look into a short window of time that had an enormous effect on the war itself as well as the world. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wachlin007 Hotmail | 2/13/2014

    " This book explains how World War I started. I learned a lot. I had no idea that so much of the royalty at the time was related. Essentially, cousins were fighting cousins. Pretty stupid, but then, most wars are. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lorena | 2/9/2014

    " I majored in history, I've read a LOT of history, and no one writes it like Barbara Tuchman. I am a raving Barbara Tuchman fan. That is all. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wachlin007 Hotmail | 2/9/2014

    " This book explains how World War I started. I learned a lot. I had no idea that so much of the royalty at the time was related. Essentially, cousins were fighting cousins. Pretty stupid, but then, most wars are. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Matty2fatty | 2/3/2014

    " Only made it 60% through! After reading A World Undone (which I preferred) the middle got boring, but The Guns of August was a great second description of the background, causes, and beginning of the war, especially since it emphasizes different stories. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ian | 1/31/2014

    " Yeah, it's that good. All the awesomeness you've heard about it is true. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carl | 1/30/2014

    " I don't need to rehash the story, but I will say that this book is so excellently written as it covers the first 30 days of WWI, the events that led up to it, and the consequences from it. It is written with such fascinating detail, punctuated with great humor, about the follies and foibles of each country's leaders. I was reminded throughout of the wonderful line from Elaine on TV's Seinfeld, "War...what is it good for?". "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John Christmann | 1/23/2014

    " Tuchman is probably one of the best writers in the field of historic narrative. Her ability to tell the story of the first month of WW1 is prosaic. I've never encountered a history writer with the literary ability of a novelist; it was as if I was reading a work of fiction. She is able to capture the personality of these historic figures, and tell the story of a world changing event with ease. Her scholarship is also top-notch; she weaves her narrative through the use of wartime documents, newspaper articles, letters & correspondence, and personal diaries. If you're interested in history, but find reading history texts dull and a bit dry, I recommend Barbara Tuchman's work. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Meredith | 1/19/2014

    " Thoroughly researched and even-handed account of the opening days of world war I. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Nick | 1/19/2014

    " The fact that some people can possibly read through his book and enjoy it has got to be completely insane. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sarah | 1/18/2014

    " This is a compelling book about the first month of World War I. Tuchman describes the personalities and events in a style that is both very informative and interesting. The account is detailed but easy to understand; even her descriptions of troop movements and where the armies were are quite comprehensible. This is an excellent book for anyone interested in history, especially World War I. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amanda | 1/16/2014

    " This heartbreaking account of the first month of The Great War was not for the faint of heart or light reader. Tuchman went into facinating (and sometimes incredibly complicated) details about the philosophies, plans, leadership and movement of the various troops. Although difficult to get into, once the war began, I was completely engrossed. I was amazed at the research and details surrounding all of the different armies and their leaders. Deffinately thought provoking and educational. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Guy Cranswick | 1/15/2014

    " The opening pages is one of the best ever written, certainly for a history. A classic. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Christopher | 1/13/2014

    " a classic; well worth the read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Quincy | 1/8/2014

    " I enjoyed this book very much. Even though I was mostly ignorant of this part of history, the author presented the material in a way that made it accessible and interesting. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Paul | 1/6/2014

    " Beginning of book detailing the climate of Europe and the causes of the first world war was very interesting, but the last third of the book slowed down and bogged down with detail. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kate | 1/5/2014

    " I didn't know much about WW1 before reading this book, but I feel I can now talk intelligently and condesendingly about it at dinner parties. It's a very dense book, it was a bit of a struggle to get through, but worth it in the end. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sajal Shrestha | 1/1/2014

    " Fantastic book. The details of the onset of the great war woven by the author is just mind blowing. It reads like a novel and yet is historically accurate. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Arun | 12/26/2013

    " One cannot forget the landscapes of war described in this masterpiece. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Melissa | 12/18/2013

    " One of the best history books of all time. Narrative, fascinating telling of the start of World War I. Riveting! I loved it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dlchambers | 12/9/2013

    " I finally understand the beginnings of WW1 and why it resulted in trench warfare. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Philippe | 12/6/2013

    " Classic about the start of WWI. Covers mostly the war of movement at the beginning of the war before the stalemate resulted in trench warfare and the slaughter of attacks and counter attacks doomed to fail because of the antiquated tactics used. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 José | 11/16/2013

    " A must-read for anyone that wishes to understand the chain of events that lead up to the Great War. If I remember correctly, Tuchman also takes us through the first few months of the war to show the reader how Paris was nearly captured! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kendra | 11/15/2013

    " A great book. An interesting period of time in Europe and Tuchman writes about it and the pivotal characters (in a gossipy way) so well. I'd read it again. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marilyn Pronovost | 11/15/2013

    " Had to read this for a high school class. Hard to get through but I did learn a lot about the planning for WWI. Information that has stayed with me many years. The concern about a two front war,the pincer movement to conquering France. How this warwasaprecursor to WWII. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mike | 11/15/2013

    " A stunning & enthralling work of historical narrative. Tuchman is a master of letting events unfold, keeping the reader rapt with suspense even though the outcome may be known. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 James | 11/3/2013

    " Very good. Great info delivered, not dry at all. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Daniel | 10/31/2013

    " Truth is stranger than fiction! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Wesley | 10/24/2013

    " The writing style of this book is so exquisitely suspenseful and enveloping. This is another one of those I thoroughly enjoyed. WWI doesn't receive its just attention by many but Barbara brings out the best telling of a single month in history that changed the world. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nancy | 8/28/2013

    " Gripping history of the first few months of World War I. The book ends as the lines are established for the trench warfare that will come to define the war. Since I didn't know much about World War I, I found the book to be incredibly interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dale Sino | 6/4/2013

    " Barbara Tuchman makes history read like a novel. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Eric | 3/26/2013

    " This book describes the lead up to and the beginning of WWI. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Harold | 1/30/2013

    " Best history book about WWI...indepth and detailed...puts a human touch to the war. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 David | 1/16/2013

    " This is a brilliant book, telling the history of the first month of World War I. For any fan of history, this is a must-read. The numerous names do get confusing at times (thank goodness for the index), but this is no dry history text, it is a riveting story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jabbott | 1/3/2013

    " This is an excellent depiction of the beginning of World War I. It efficiently describes the build-up to the war, the first month of the conflict, and the eventual plunge into the great brutality of stationary trench warfare. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Steph | 9/23/2012

    " Fascinating read. Required if you're a history buff. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Scott | 8/30/2012

    " Quick read. Paints a picture of a war started from vanity and ego and prosecuted through vanity and incompetence. A lot of wars are like that, I suppose. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Quincy | 8/19/2012

    " I enjoyed this book very much. Even though I was mostly ignorant of this part of history, the author presented the material in a way that made it accessible and interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ross | 8/16/2012

    " Just terrific. Will plan to read it again soon. Currently reading several other of Tuchman's works. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michael | 6/10/2012

    " First read in high school; listened in 2013. Barbara Tuchman was some kinda writer. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jeff | 4/26/2012

    " Three and a half really. Good, but melodramatic at times and still full of speculation. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stephanie | 2/4/2012

    " Highest compliments on the research and the writing. A big high five to Pulitzer prize winning Barbara Tuchman, who wrote a very readable, informative book about World War I that was never boring. A classic that will hopefully be around for future generations. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Eugene du Plessis | 8/6/2011

    " Not an easy read but keeps WW1 alive in memory "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mick | 6/24/2011

    " Story of the start of WW1. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bill | 6/13/2011

    " A good read, but a little too involved in troop movements. A little more detail about the actors would've been nice. But if you enjoy terms like "flank' and "cavalry", go for it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Pippin | 6/7/2011

    " i can't quite give this 5 stars because it was dense and made some assumptions of the ready at times. but it was still a great read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rachel | 6/3/2011

    " I'd read sections of this in high school, but not the entire thing. As I don't read military histories that much, I appreciated keeping the troop movements down to a minimum to focus on the people involved and their decision making processes. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nancy | 5/17/2011

    " Gripping history of the first few months of World War I. The book ends as the lines are established for the trench warfare that will come to define the war. Since I didn't know much about World War I, I found the book to be incredibly interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tstrubi | 5/13/2011

    " The Guns of August was the first book about WWI that I have read and it probably will not be the last. It gave a lot of information about August of 1914 or the first month of WWI. It taught me plenty and though it wasn't the most enjoyable book I have ever read I would still recomend it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kent | 5/4/2011

    " Barbara Tuchman reveals the stupidity of politicians and generals and how they can stumble a world in a devastating war. It sickens and saddens one to realize that, as Barbara Tuchman makes clear, World War I could have been avoided. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Paragoalie | 4/20/2011

    " An awesome book that gives the lead up to and the first month of WWI. Dispells the common theory that the Germans were sole to blame "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Melissa | 3/24/2011

    " One of the best history books of all time. Narrative, fascinating telling of the start of World War I. Riveting! I loved it. "

Write a Review
What is FlexPass?
  • Your first audiobook is just $5.95
  • Over 90% are at or below $12.95
  • "LOVE IT" guarantee
  • No time limits or expirations
About the Author
Author Barbara W. Tuchman

Barbara W. Tuchman (1912–1989), American historian, was born in New York City and graduated from Radcliffe College in 1933. A self-trained historian, she was a writer for the Nation and an editor for the US Office of War Information. In her later years she was a lecturer at Harvard and the US Naval War College. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1963 for The Guns of August and in 1972 for Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911–45. She was awarded the 1978 Gold Medal for History from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

About the Narrator

Wanda McCaddon (a.k.a. Nadia May or Donada Peters) has narrated well over six hundred titles for major audiobook publishers, has earned numerous Earphones Awards, and was named a Golden Voice by AudioFile magazine.