The Proud Tower

The Proud Tower

A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890-1914

Book - 1966
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The Proud Tower, the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Guns of August, and The Zimmerman Telegram comprise Barbara W. Tuchman's classic histories of the First World War era

During the fateful quarter century leading up to World War I, the climax of a century of rapid, unprecedented change, a privileged few enjoyed Olympian luxury as the underclass was "heaving in its pain, its power, and its hate." In The Proud Tower, Barbara W. Tuchman brings the era to vivid life: the decline of the Edwardian aristocracy; the Anarchists of Europe and America; Germany and its self-depicted hero, Richard Strauss; Diaghilev's Russian ballet and Stravinsky's music; the Dreyfus Affair; the Peace Conferences in The Hague; and the enthusiasm and tragedy of Socialism, epitomized by the assassination of Jean Jaurès on the night the Great War began and an epoch came to a close.
Praise for The Proud Tower
"[Barbara W. Tuchman's] Pulitzer Prize-winningnbsp; The Guns of Augustnbsp; was an expert evocation of the first spasm of the 1914-1918 war. She brings the same narrative gifts and panoramic camera eye to her portrait of the antebellum world." -- Newsweek
"A rare combination of impeccable scholarship and literary polish . . . It would be impossible to read The Proud Tower without pleasure and admiration." -- The New York Times
"An exquisitely written and thoroughly engrossing work . . . The author's knowledge and skill are so impressive that they whet the appetite for more." -- Chicago Tribune
"[Tuchman] tells her story with cool wit and warm understanding." -- Time

Publisher: New York : Macmillan, c1966
ISBN: 9780345405012
Branch Call Number: 909.82 TUC
Characteristics: xv, 528 pages :,illustrations, ports. ;,25 cm


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May 22, 2017

A book by a highly respected historian covering approximately 25 years prior to the first world war. This book was put together from a series of essays that the author had previously written. Each essay deals with a different aspect of life in the "Belle Epoque" prior to the first world war. It gives a picture of a variety of personalities that shaped the political, social and performing life in that era. In particular, I enjoyed chapter 7, which described the historical context of composers, artists and performers in the period leading up to the war. While those persons did not directly cause the war, their art reflected the great changes in society that were taking place during that period.
This was overall a very difficult book to read. The structure, made up from a variety of different essays, was palpable as one read through the book. It was disjointed. It felt like a series of different writings strung together. Although all dealt with the same era, they did not share much in common and could easily have each stood alone.
This book certainly did not read as well as Tuchman's masterpiece, The Guns of August. Although I could only devote limited amounts of time daily to reading it, it took me about six weeks to get through. And this for a reader that is particularly interested in the origins and consequences of the First World War. For someone with a more casual interest, I would not recommend this book.

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