The Proud Tower by Tuchman

Anyone read this book? I recently started it after finding it stashed deep in my collection of books…I had no idea it was there and I’d never heard of it.

I relegated it to the top of my toilet tank (a place of honor) and began reading it in bits and pieces. It seemed very fragmentary at first but now the common theme of social change in the face of aristocracy in late 19th century England is starting to take shape. I am starting to really like this book.

Anyone else recommend it?

I recommend it. Its the perfect companion to “The Guns of August” but its also a look to a long gone world.
It seems disconnected but while dealing with and individual or a situation it deals with each of the major WWI belligerents.

I enjoyed it, recommend it, kept my copy, and still dip into it from time to time. It provides good, memorable introductions to two events whose effects lingered long: the Dreyfus affair and the rise of anarchist terror. The chapter on Richard Strauss led me to read Wilde’s play “Salome”, which, well, let’s just say it’s very unlike every other play he wrote.

I didn’t think anyone read Tuchman these days. I highly recommend all of her work.

Just finished re-reading it a few months ago. Highly recommend it for glimpses of a lost age.

When I want to read something I pick up one of her books and re-read it because it so much better written than even most novels. Whereas she’s historically accurate and objective enough to learn a lot from: although certainly there are individual cases where she is less than 100% factually accurate, or takes a non-objective tone without necessarily playing fast and loose with bare facts, she is certainly above average in those categories and is more entertaining than anyone who might challenge her in those areas.

My favorite so far by her is A Distant Mirror, and I like the Guns of August of course, but even Folly is readable, if easily identifiable as a weak offer by her and less well written and coherent, is still much more readable than others history.

When I worked at the Little Rock Public Library, there was a Belgian patron, Rene Moucherot who had argued with her by mail over some detail of the invasion of Belgium by the Germans in 1914. The man was as proud and pissed as in my experience only certain Europeans can be.
I asked him, “I understand Belgians speak French and German. What dialect of German, Barva Deutsch (sp)?”
“Why, good German!”

My associate reported that Rene told him that his Mother had died in Belgium, and we never saw him again.

Barabara Tuchman is one of the greats. It’s sad that she has slipped into the “I’ve never heard of her” category. I’d recommend just about anything of hers, although her last couple of books were indeed lesser efforts.

I don’t think I have but now that I’ve been reminded I may. I really enjoyed A Distant Mirror with its amazing level of detail and discussion of the difficulties of historical research. March of Folly took an interesting unifying perspective of events that I had only seen presented before in fragments.

Was that where she said in the forward that she wanted to find a “common man” of the 13th Century, “But I couldn’t find him.” She did as I recall found some noble guy. I am surprised that she found that surprising.
I found The Guns of August fascinating, and read everything else of hers we had at the library.

I wanted to have a display of her books when she died, but Management wasn’t interested.

Yes, I adored this book and most of her others (didn’t love THE MARCH OF FOLLY as much).

May I suggest Walter Lord’s THE GOOD YEARS, which also covers 1900-1914? Yes, it’s the same guy who wrote about the Titanic, but his histories are terrific too, especially his one about Pearl Harbor.

Thanks for the heads up, all. I am ashamed to admit that I studied English in college and I’ve never heard of her. Too much Eudora Welty, I suppose.

I will look for The Guns Of August next after I finish this one.

The Proud Tower was a major reason I became interested in the period of roughly 1890-1914. A great divide in history, presented by a skilled and colorful historian.

Somehow I can understand how you’d get that impression…

And let’s not forget The Zimmermann Telegram, a Tuchman classic, featuring the most dumbass admission ever made at a press conference.

Ha-ha, no, it wasn’t that, it was the headlong style of plunging from one lord’s name and behaviors to the next at the outset of the book. It was hard to keep track of everybody while the table was being set for the major thematic elements of the book, which I assume will be revealed shortly. I am only a little ways into it.

“The lights are going out all over Europe and you shall not see them lit again in your lifetime.”
-Lord (Edward) Grey

A ghastly depressing story we all ought to know by heart.

I found the (historically accurate?) accounts of the different lords and dukes and such interesting, particularly the description of their landholdings in acreage, their allowances in pounds per year, etc.

It seemed like a very few wealthy people owned pretty much all the usable land in England back in those days in the forms of estates and whatnot!

My favorite Barbara Tuchman story is in an interview about “The Proud Tower”, she admitted she was unable to work in the fact that Kaiser Wilhelm’s wife Agusta was all but addicted to the huge and fabulous hats of the era.

I read it years ago, and the two chapters that stuck with me are the ones you mention on the Dreyfus affair and the anarchist movement. Definitely worth it for those two chapters alone, though I remember liking the rest of the book as well (even if I can’t remember what the other chapters covered!).