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Dreadnought: Britain, Germany, and the Coming of the Great War (1991)

de Robert K. Massie

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1,506278,788 (4.27)30
"A classic [that] covers superbly a whole era...Engrossing in its glittering gallery of characters." CHICAGO SUN-TIMES Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Robert K. Massie has written a richly textured and gripping chronicle of the personal and national rivalries that led to the twentieth century's first great arms race. Massie brings to vivid life, such historical figures as the single-minded Admiral von Tirpitz, the young, ambitious, Winston Churchill, the ruthless, sycophantic Chancellor Bernhard von Bulow, and many others. Their story, and the story of the era, filled with misunderstandings, missed opportunities, and events leading to unintended conclusions, unfolds like a Greek tratedy in his powerful narrative. Intimately human and dramatic, DREADNOUGHT is history at its most riveting. From the Trade Paperback edition.… (més)
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Es mostren 1-5 de 27 (següent | mostra-les totes)
Two years and 2 months since I started this book I've finished it, but don't let that discourage you. It's a good book.

Dreadnought explores the people involved in the battleship arms race that contributed to the start of World War I. Basically each chapter follows one person. Be it Bismarck, Sir Edward Grey, Kaiser Wilhelm II or fascinating people you might not have heard of before like Friedrich von Holstein or John Arbuthnot "Jackie" Fisher.

Some of them could easily fill a book by itself instead of just 20-60 pages each, and that is why this is a 1000 page book.

The book is chronological, starting in the 1870s, 1880s, and ending 1914 which means that it covers 1-2 generations and the people's mood changes.

As for World War I, I think this book puts more blame at the Germans than some other books, but it also contains enough information for you to create your own opinion (and in the end, World War I had so many different reasons and guilty parties that it will never ever be black or white).

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the political side of naval history. I found John Fisher particularly interesting, as the creator of everything modern in a modern fleet. Wherever a breakthrough or major decision was made, he was there in some capacity.

Kaiser Wilhem II doesn't get a pretty picture painted of himself. The book doesn't say anything about it, but I'm starting to wonder how stable he really was. He seemed really emotional and irrational at times.

Questions, questions... Like any good book, this book leaves you wanting to know more. The only downside is the time needed. ( )
  bratell | Dec 25, 2020 |
Dreadnoughts. Looking for information on the Battle of Jutland, or the design or evolution of the Dreadnought, or role of navel power in World War I? Look elsewhere. However, If you want to learn more of Queen Victoria's offspring and the evolution of European relations up to the start of World War I, then this is the book for you. Two sections of photo inserts show all the major players in the upcoming war and a single picture of H.M.S. Dreadnought (the last picture in the second section of photographs).

Anything you want to know about crisis leading to the war are covered. Also, covered is England's Splendid Isolation and it's fall, and why England had to align against Germany. The complex entangling alliances are also covered. Primarily the book is a history of England and Germany and it their leaders and officials. Also covered is the challenges (politically at home) of growing a navy. Massie backs up his book with almost one hundred pages of bibliography. To call this book through would be a gross understatement. It is probably the most detailed account I have read on the the subject.

World War I is what many historians call the start of the 20th Century because of epic changes that the war brought about, politically and militarily. Dreadnoughts, takes you right up to the door step of that change. Dreadnought is well worth the read if you are interested in the period coming to the start of World War I. It is a long read, but explains much of a very complex time without over simplification. ( )
  evil_cyclist | Mar 16, 2020 |
Massie's writing style is clear, and he organizes huge themes and complex topics in ways that are understandable to the non-specialized reader. Nevertheless, this is an extremely long book, and quite a commitment for anyone who is not totally obsessed with the topic. Also, Massie focuses on political and military aspects of history. The deeper social trends, how the experiences and views of the "unwashed masses" may have influenced events is simply not within his area of interest. Thus, for someone who, like me, is interested in how and to what extent these events influenced "ordinary" people, this book was often tough going. Still, I learned a great deal and will read more by this author. ( )
  kaitanya64 | Jan 3, 2017 |
An excellent book that only loses a star as it was a little difficult to follow, particularly in the early stages given the author's method of concentrating on a character. I found this awkward at the start of each chapter and I suspect others who are not already well versed in the characters would too. For those who already know a reasonable amount about the period I doubt it would be an inconvenience.

I also found it took a long time to get to the ships, which was my main reason for reading the book, but bear with it dear reader...

The depth of research is evident on every page and given that this was written some time ago I find it incredible still that there are debates over who was to blame for the start of the war. Unless someone has shown Massie to be hugely at fault somehow and has confused his sources, then this veritable tome leaves the issue in no doubt.

The soft spot I already have for Churchill has become fully ripe as a result of this book and Sir Edward Grey emerges from what were shadows for me to be a man of great honour , tenacity and imagination who did everything possible to avoid the unavoidable.

If you are interested in royalty, politics, diplomacy, power, war in general or ships in particular, this book is a must read. ( )
  expatscot | Aug 24, 2016 |
900+ pages of the naval & political buildup to WW1. The history is told by reference to the personal stories of the key players. Maybe the last European war where monarchs actively contributed. Excellent book.
Read Aug 2007 ( )
  mbmackay | Dec 6, 2015 |
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"A classic [that] covers superbly a whole era...Engrossing in its glittering gallery of characters." CHICAGO SUN-TIMES Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Robert K. Massie has written a richly textured and gripping chronicle of the personal and national rivalries that led to the twentieth century's first great arms race. Massie brings to vivid life, such historical figures as the single-minded Admiral von Tirpitz, the young, ambitious, Winston Churchill, the ruthless, sycophantic Chancellor Bernhard von Bulow, and many others. Their story, and the story of the era, filled with misunderstandings, missed opportunities, and events leading to unintended conclusions, unfolds like a Greek tratedy in his powerful narrative. Intimately human and dramatic, DREADNOUGHT is history at its most riveting. From the Trade Paperback edition.

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