From the acclaimed military historian, a new history of the outbreak of World War I: the dramatic stretch from the breakdown of diplomacy to the battles—the Marne, Ypres, Tannenberg—that marked the frenzied first year before the war bogged down in the trenches.
In Catastrophe 1914, Max Hastings gives us a conflict different from the familiar one of barbed wire, mud and futility. He traces the path to war, making clear why Germany and Austria-Hungary were primarily to blame, and describes the gripping first clashes in the West, where the French army marched into action in uniforms of red and blue with flags flying and bands playing. In August, four days after the French suffered 27,000 men dead in a single day, the British fought an extraordinary holding action against oncoming Germans, one of the last of its kind in history. In October, at terrible cost the British held the allied line against massive German assaults in the first battle of Ypres. Hastings also re-creates the lesser-known battles on the Eastern Front, brutal struggles in Serbia, East Prussia and Galicia, where the Germans, Austrians, Russians and Serbs inflicted three million casualties upon one another by Christmas.
As he has done in his celebrated, award-winning works on World War II, Hastings gives us frank assessments of generals and political leaders and masterly analyses of the political currents that led the continent to war. He argues passionately against the contention that the war was not worth the cost, maintaining that Germany’s defeat was vital to the freedom of Europe. Throughout we encounter statesmen, generals, peasants, housewives and private soldiers of seven nations in Hastings’s accustomed blend of top-down and bottom-up accounts: generals dismounting to lead troops in bayonet charges over 1,500 feet of open ground; farmers who at first decried the requisition of their horses; infantry men engaged in a haggard retreat, sleeping four hours a night in their haste. This is a vivid new portrait of how a continent became embroiled in war and what befell millions of men and women in a conflict that would change everything.
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Readers accustomed to Hastings’ vivid battle descriptions, incisive anecdotes from all participants, and shrewd, often unsettling opinions will not be disappointed.Read Full Review of Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes... | See more reviews from Kirkus
Hastings's latest 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.Read Full Review of Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly
“Catastrophe 1914” brilliantly shows how, within its first few months, World War I came to assume the dispiriting and bloody form it would hold for the next four years.Read Full Review of Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes... | See more reviews from NY Times
An outstanding historian of the Second World War, Max Hastings has made a victorious foray into a conflict with which he is less familiar. His fans will recognize the trademarks: trenchant and Olympian judgments that eschew quirkiness in their pursuit of common sense...Read Full Review of Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes... | See more reviews from NY Times
This volume is a highly readable account of a war Europe completely misjudged in terms of bloodshed and cost...Read Full Review of Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes... | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books
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.Read Full Review of Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes... | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books
One of the joys of this hefty book is Mr. Hastings‘ narrative skill. He provides the wide-lens approach to the broad political environment, but he spices the long view with attention to the quotidian details of his characters and their inner lives that makes for a very human story.Read Full Review of Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes... | See more reviews from Washington Times
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.Read Full Review of Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes...
Readers who desire a better understanding of the first world war can do no better than reading Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War.Read Full Review of Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes...
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