For this week, you have the option of responding to any of the following prompts. You may choose to respond to many of them, but please respond to at least one.
1. Reflect on the following sentence from the end of Chapter 11 of Barbara Tuchman’s The Guns of August, “What Belgium gave the Allies was neither two days nor two weeks but a cause and an example.” What was the cause? What was the example?
2. How did the German invasion of Belgium affect the British decision to enter the war?
3. Drawing on Michael Howard’s account of the fighting during the first six months of the war, why, despite millions of men in the field and hundreds of thousands of casualties, was neither side close to winning the First World War? Why, in other words, did all of the war plans fail in 1914?
4. Is Barbara Tuchman’s craft as a historian akin to that of a novelist? How does she engage the reader? Choose a specific passage in The Guns of August that strikes you as particularly effective. How does she use details that might escape another historian’s notice?
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