Blogging the Bookshelf

Blogging my bookshelf – one book at a time

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Entries from March 31st, 2012

Not a Single Tennis Court – “The Guns of August 1914”, Barbara Tuchman

March 31st, 2012 · Comments Off on Not a Single Tennis Court – “The Guns of August 1914”, Barbara Tuchman · Criticism, Culture, History, Sport, War, WW1

The (Russian) officer corps was top-heavy with a superabundance of aged generals whose heaviest intellectual exercise was card-playing and who, to save their court perquisites and prestige, were kept on the active list regardless of activity. Officers were appointed and promoted chiefly through patronage, social or monetary, and although there were among them many brave […]

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Tags:british empire·colonialism·Empire··

Glory – “The Guns of August 1914”, Barbara Tuchman 

March 31st, 2012 · Comments Off on Glory – “The Guns of August 1914”, Barbara Tuchman  · War, WW1

“If we are to be crushed,” Bassompierre recorded their sentiment, “let us be crushed gloriously.” In 1914 “glory” was a word spoken without embarrassment, and honor a familiar concept that people believed in.

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Tags:Glory·Honor·military··

Regulations Are All Very Well for the Drill – “The Guns of August 1914”, Barbara Tuchman

March 31st, 2012 · Comments Off on Regulations Are All Very Well for the Drill – “The Guns of August 1914”, Barbara Tuchman · Leadership

Though a profound student of Clausewitz, Foch did not, like Clausewitz’s German successors, believe in a foolproof schedule of battle worked out in advance. Rather he taught the necessity of perpetual adaptability and improvisation to fit circumstances. “Regulations,” he would say, “are all very well for drill but in the hour of danger they are […]

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Tags:Bureaucracy·bureaucrats·Initiative··military·Regulation·Tactics·

March 30th, 2012 · Comments Off on · quote

Though a profound student of Clausewitz, Foch did not, like Clausewitz’s German successors, believe in a foolproof schedule of battle worked out in advance. Rather he taught the necessity of perpetual adaptability and improvisation to fit circumstances. “Regulations,” he would say, “are all very well for drill but in the hour of danger they are […]

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Tags:Bureaucracy·bureaucrats·Initiative··military·Regulation·Tactics·

Committed to Fight Whether the Cabinet Likes It Or Not – “The Guns of August 1914”, Barbara Tuchman

March 30th, 2012 · Comments Off on Committed to Fight Whether the Cabinet Likes It Or Not – “The Guns of August 1914”, Barbara Tuchman · Nuclear Weapons, Politics, Security Policy, War

Echoes of the secret meeting of the Committee of Imperial Defence angered the Cabinet members who had been left out and who belonged to the sternly pacifist wing of the party. Henry Wilson learned he was regarded as the Villain of the proceedings and that they are ‘calling for my head’. At this time began […]

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Tags:JFK·Nuclear Weapons··

The Disposition Not to Prepare for the Harder Alternative – “The Guns of August 1914”, Barbara Tuchman

March 30th, 2012 · Comments Off on The Disposition Not to Prepare for the Harder Alternative – “The Guns of August 1914”, Barbara Tuchman · Complexity, History, Leadership, Philosophy, Politics

One constant among the elements of 1914—as of any era—was the disposition of everyone on all sides not to prepare for the harder alternative, not to act upon what they suspected to be true.

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The Great Illusion – “The Guns of August 1914”, Barbara Tuchman

March 30th, 2012 · Comments Off on The Great Illusion – “The Guns of August 1914”, Barbara Tuchman · History, Philosophy, War, WW1

A new book, “The Great Illusion” by Norman Angell, had just been published, which proved that war had become vain. By impressive examples and incontrovertible argument Angell showed that in the present financial and economic interdependence of nations, the victor would suffer equally with the vanquished; therefore war had become unprofitable; therefore no nation would […]

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Prince Danilo – “The Guns of August 1914”, Barbara Tuchman

March 29th, 2012 · Comments Off on Prince Danilo – “The Guns of August 1914”, Barbara Tuchman · History, Humour

The last-named, Prince Danilo, ‘an amiable, extremely handsome young man of delightful manners’, resembled the Merry Widow’s lover in more than name for, to the consternation of British functionaries, he had arrived for the funeral the night before accompanied by a ‘charming young lady of great personal attractions’ whom he introduced as his wife’s lady-in-waiting, […]

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Tags:Adultery·Monarchy·Royalty

The Opening Line – “The Guns of August 1914”, Barbara Tuchman

March 29th, 2012 · Comments Off on The Opening Line – “The Guns of August 1914”, Barbara Tuchman · History, Prose, Writing

So gorgeous was the spectacle on the May morning of 1910 when nine kings rode in the funeral of Edward VII of England that the crowd, waiting in hushed and black-clad awe, could not keep back gasps of admiration.

That’s some opening line for a history book…

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Tags:·Monarchy·Royalty·World War 1·

Nothing in France is Free From Sexual Assignment – “Me Talk Pretty One Day” – David Sedaris

March 29th, 2012 · Comments Off on Nothing in France is Free From Sexual Assignment – “Me Talk Pretty One Day” – David Sedaris · Humour, Prose, Writing

Nothing in France is free from sexual assignment. I was leafing through the dictionary, trying to complete a homework assignment, when I noticed the French had prescribed genders for the various land masses and natural wonders we Americans had always thought of as sexless, Niagara Falls is feminine and, against all reason, the Grand Canyon […]

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Tags:·French·Gender·