In Catastrophe 1914 (Vintage, $17.95), Max Hastings once again proves why he is such a lauded historian. In his latest military-political study, the author of Inferno, Winston’s War, and many others, looks at the opening events of the First World War through the strange dichotomy of great human folly coupled with noble intentions. Far from seeing the conflict as a waste, Hastings paints a picture of Europe struggling on the very edge of losing its identity and freedom; his vivid evocations of battle on both the Western and Eastern fronts follow the many generals, soldiers, and politicians maneuvering both on and behind the scenes. This book details just one year of the war and yet illuminates more about Europe in the first part of the twentieth century than tomes twice its size. Whether or not Hastings convinces you that the war was absolutely necessary, you can’t help but be engaged by his argument, his evidence, and his narrative; this stimulating book will broaden your understanding of the Great War.
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