The Proud Tower has ratings and reviews. In The Proud Tower, Barbara W. Tuchman brings the era to vivid life: the decline of the Edwardian. The Proud Tower, the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Guns of August, and The Zimmerman Telegram comprise Barbara W. Tuchman’s classic histories of the. The Proud Tower A Portrait of the World Before the War, ; Barbara W. Tuchman’s Great War Series Written by Barbara W. Tuchman. The Proud Tower.

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See 1 question about The Proud Tower…. Lists with This Book. Aug 24, Matt rated it liked it Shelves: How do you follow up a major success in life?

Barbara Tuchman certainly had to answer that query. Inshe published The Guns of Augustone of the most widely acclaimed works o How do you follow up a major success in life? Inshe published The Guns of Augustone of the most widely acclaimed works of history ever written. It won the Pulitzer Prize. It was a popular success. It is said that Kennedy read it during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

So, what do you do when your book has made you famous, wealthy, and also saved the world from nuclear war? How do you come up with an encore? In literal terms – well, read on. I yhe what I would’ve done. Tuchman didn’t do either of these things. She didn’t do towef, really.

The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890-1914

Instead, of a fresh masterpiece, Tuchman’s next catalogue entry is the literary version of a sit com’s clip show. Prouud Proud Towerthe chronological follow-up to The Guns of Augustis a collection of eight previously-published essays written by Tuchman. The only original writing is a three page Forward that tries to reverse engineer a thesis. I doubt many of us have seen the original articles elsewhere. Certainly, this is my first exposure to any of them. It is, at the very least, misleading as to its intentions.

Right from the cover, you are lead to believe this is a predecessor — in spirit if not in fact — to The Guns of August. The Tufhman Toweron the other hand, is all over the place, hopping, skipping, and jumping from one topic to the next. It does not provide a portrait, a holistic vision, so much as it gives us an assortment of snapshots. Most importantly, the shadow of World War I is hardly mentioned at all.


She has two chapters on Great Britain, both focusing on the shift of power away from the patricians embodied in the House of Lords and into the hands of the common people embodied tudhman the Liberal alliance with Labour. The first Great Britain chapter focuses on Lord Salisbury, and gets a bit tedious. The second chapter, about the de-fanging of the House of Lords, is much brisker and alive with political maneuvering. Like Socialists, Anarchists were looking to foment a revolution.

Unlike Socialists, Anarchists being anarchists were against organization, training, discipline, etc. Instead, they wanted to spark the revolution by spontaneous acts of violence. Tuchman always had a keen eye for comparing historical movements from one time period to another. She would have appreciated how familiar the Anarchist tactics feel today in light of modern terrorist tactics.

Reed tried to stop America from turnign into an imperial. It was a struggle he lost following American successes and land acquisitions in the Spanish-American War. This was the moment America went from a proud non-colonial power to an aggressively-grasping empire that mimicked the old order of Europe. The Dreyfus Affair began in when Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a French artillery officer, was convicted of passing military secrets to the Germans. On the one side, you had the moral might of the government and military, which held itself beyond reproach.

The conventions that came out of these talks attempted to codify the conduct of warfare. It touched on issues such as protection for civilians and their property and treatment of prisoners-of-war. Despite a lot of foot dragging among the great powers, who did not want other countries to constrain their abilities in time of war, Tuchman presents the Hague Conferences as relative successes.

The Proud Tower – Wikipedia

Indeed, as she notes, in one of her rare references to the looming Great War, a third conference had been scheduled for Here, Tuchman goes on a rather lengthy tangent about Richard Strauss, the German composer and conductor. Thus, I was predisposed not to care much about this subject. The French Jaures was an influential leader of the Socialist movement.

Without Jaures, the Socialists became — at least for a minute — as ardent nationalists as any. Freed from the threat of strikes or opposition, the governments of the belligerent nations were free to do as they pleased.

Unfortunately, they desired war. As you can see, there is no cohering element to these various chapters. Accordingly, there is an unevenness inherent to the proceedings. Nothing connects one chapter to the next.

Tuchman thf not deliver any sort of final judgment on the world before the war. Rather, she is making a bunch of random observations.

Strauss composes excellent operas! I liked The Proud Tower on the strength of its best essays. Tuchman writes at her usual high level, with erudition, dry wit, and perceptive characterizations. Anyone picking this up in expectation of a prequel to tuchhman WWI classic will be disappointed. Despite the alleged thematic similarities, the two books are worlds apart. The Guns of August is driven tuchmsn a strong narrative. The Proud Tower is a loose gathering of unrelated topical essays.


This book, for all its qualities, feels like a way to keep up a revenue thr while Tuchman labored on a real project. View all harbara comments. Aug 09, Kalliope rated it really liked it Shelves: This book is really a collection of essays published separately in various journals.

Any book tackling the social, political and artistic situation of the world in the couple of decades before it entered its first global war, could only offer a partial view. These essays offer a series of selected aspects of this bellicose universe seen through fhe points of view.

There are considerable absences. For example, Russia and the Austro-Hungarian and the Ottoman empires are not tackled. There are additional chapters on Syndicalism, Anarchism, the institution of the Hague Conferences, and on a German Musician. I have two favorite chapters. I learned a great deal from the one devoted to the US in which Tuchman shows how after the annexation of the Territory of Hawaii the country turned into something different from the days when it was founded.

Fascinating was also the account barbata The Hague Conventions which tackled how, if they fundamentally failed, they also succeeded in starting a protocol that after some developments alleviated some aspects of brutality when fower decide to engage in war.

The least relevant of the chapters was the one dedicated to a German composer. Entertaining in itself it seemed to grant disproportionate attention to Richard Strauss, no matter how beautiful his music is. And yet, in spite of the merged nature of this collation of essays, an overall picture emerges. From the Proud Tower we can see that it was the social structure of society, with its internal and extreme poles, that pulled a greater and greater tension and finally made the inner strings snap.

But the view also offers the realization that if these social tensions were felt in parallel in the countries Tuchman has selected, their logical international relevancy was poisoned by distorting nationalisms. What could have been a series of revolutionary and coetaneous changes in domestic social pacts, marched instead into a political war against other nations.

A nationalist shot him fatally a couple of days after the war against Serbia had been declared and four days before the war became general. Tuchman writes in a very engaging manner, but to me it was at times too engaging. I prefer a more analytical and less journalistic approach. The facts and arguments stay better in my mind. View all 18 comments. Those interested in World War One. While drearisome Arose the howl of wakened hounds: The mouse let fall the altar-crumb, The worms drew back into the mounds, The glebe cow drooled.